Mt. Mitchell

Mt. Mitchell

posted in: Bicycle Touring, North Carolina | 20

Day 17, May 16 – Marion to Mt. Mitchell

Started my day off with delicious banana bread muffins made by Grandma.  Rounded up my stuff and said our goodbyes.  It’s been a fun stay!  It was a fairly easy pedal to the start of my climb to the parkway.  By noon I finished the initial climb… it did not seem quite as bad as I thought it would be.  I guess the practice ride helped.

I rode another five miles or so (mostly more climbing) to the exit for Mt. Mitchell and decided to give it a go.  After about an hour of fairly steep climbing I made it to the summit.  Wild views on the way up but foggy at the top.  It got really chilly up there… by the time I rode to the campground near the summit I was getting pretty cold.  After the tent was up I layered up and after sitting in my sleeping bag for a bit I decided to ride to the mountain restaurant for some soup and coffee to warm up.

On my way back to the campground I could see some weather blowing in.  Back in my tent the winds picked up and the sleet came down.  Glad I had a fairly warm sleeping bag.

IMG_4910Gear update… Removing the items above.  Updated the gear page finally.

IMG_4968Out with the shoes and in with the goodies.

IMG_4970Until next time Grandma!  Check out my awesome sandal tan lines.

IMG_4981And so begin the hills.  Time to prepare…

IMG_4980Step 1) Tunes.

IMG_4990Step 2) Hydration

IMG_4989Step 3) Game face

IMG_5015Climb on!

IMG_5025Climb, climb, rest, repeat.


IMG_5037Rewarding my initial climb to the parkway with a banana bread muffin and turkey bacon that I stashed from breakfast.

IMG_5042Watching the rain in the distance with a fellow cyclist.  Is that going to hit us?

IMG_5056Oh yes.  I was thrilled.


IMG_5065To climb or not to climb.  I can’t say no to a good challenge.  Even if the weather isn’t great.


IMG_5079Up and up… Difficult to see, but there are snowflakes there.


IMG_5091Some weather is moving in… creeping across the next range over.

IMG_5096The summit!  Before the clouds consumed it.

IMG_5105And then I found the snow.  Socks and sandals… fashionistas beware.


IMG_5107They were giving out free grape-nuts samples near the top.  Don’t mind if I do.


IMG_5116What a view!

IMG_5126Warming up over a coffee in the restaurant near the top before heading back to camp.


Miles: 42.6
Elevation climbed: ~7000 ft
Acts of kindness:  4 – Grandma sent me with cookies, dehydrated apples, and a hearty breakfast; Met Bob Hurt from Dakota, MN who was out photographing the mountain from a sweet tripod setup coming out his van’s sunroof.  He snapped a few photos of me and took my email so he could send them to me; Met some cyclists from TN who offered me a place to stay when they learned I was headed there.  Unfortunately they weren’t along my route; The park ranger gave me a discount… He said it was for the bad weather.  I think he felt bad I was up there on a bike.

Day 18, May 17 – Mt. Mitchell to Asheville

Brrrrrr!  It was chilly this morning.  I got up around 7:00 AM to take a look around at the frost.  No need to be riding on slick roads and through cold air so I went back to bed for a couple hours.  I woke with the sun shining and the frost mostly cleared.  After layering up, packing up camp and having my morning joe I was soon racing down Mt. Mitchell.  It took about 5 minutes to get from the ranger station to the entrance… At least an hour climb the night before.

The ride to Asheville started uphill for about 5 miles followed by 15 miles of downhill glory.  25-35 miles/hr seemed to be the cruising speed.  Sure beats climbing!  I had to make several stops to shed and reapply layers between short climbs and downhill sections.  By the time I got off the parkway temperatures were much more comfortable.  It was a quick ride from the parkway exit to my hostel in west Asheville.  The hostel is very laid back.  I’ve got a camping spot in the back yard.

Rode partially into the downtown area but didn’t go too far for lack of light.  Checked out 2 breweries that were along my ride.  This town is loaded with them!  Might have to stay an extra day.  Met a fellow cross country cycle tourist tonight and had fun chatting about her trip.  Sounds like her trip was nothing short of amazing and she shared the same excitement for my trip.  She did most of the Trans Am route last year, Virginia to San Francisco.

IMG_5141I knew when I saw my breath when I woke up that things would be frosty.


IMG_5143I know!  I’ll get rid of my shoes… one day later it snows and I’m making hobo wind socks.

IMG_5150Ahhh feeling alive again.

IMG_5153Layered up!





IMG_5176Some crazy houses in Asheville.


Miles: 52
Acts of kindness:  2 – Free beer from Dan at Wedge Brewing Company who I met earlier in the day up near the top of Craggy Mountain

Day 19, May 18 – Mt. Mitchell to Asheville

Woke up to rain and I left my laundry on the clothes line – Doh!  Must be a sign I need to stay the day and let them dry.  Visited a coffee shop and bakery down the street and had a cinnamon roll as big as my head.  Going to start my day with a healthy helping of sugar and caffeine I guess.  I worked on looking into the GPS tracks for the Northern Tier route.  I was selected to do some digital map trials for the Adventure Cycling Association.  After messing around with that a bit I rode around downtown and checked out the area.

Back at the hostel I made friends with a couple from UK and a trio from Australia.  Had a fun evening with them.

Miles: Just a few around town
Total Mileage:  ~860

Day 20, May 19 – Back on the Parkway

Just heading out to get back on the parkway towards Bryson City.  Looks like I’ll be doing some more climbing.  My current route shows about 150 miles to Tennessee!  Maybe I’ll be there in 2 days of tough riding.

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20 Responses

  1. Chris m

    We are having soooo much fun reading of your adventures( minus the snake early in your trip). Love the beer and acts of kindness updates. Glad grandma revived you! Al said she’s a great lady! We pray for safe travels and great adventures daily. Happy trails brad!

    • Bradley

      Glad you enjoy 🙂 And no snakes in a while! Just lots of crazy birds, squirrels, woodchucks, and weird millipedes. Thanks for the prayers. More steep climbs today!

  2. Gene Dankbar

    Great pictures Brad! Thanks for sharing.. Congratuations on summiting the tallest peak east of the Mississippi!

    Have a great day of biking!

    Gene (your dad’s friend from the Y)

    • Bradley

      Hey Gene! Thanks! It helped having a couple rest days before the climb that’s for sure! These last few days definitely feel more difficult on tired legs

  3. Paul Phillips

    Hobo wind socks…excellent!

  4. Steve Gage

    Really enjoying the blog, Brad!

  5. Erik Lewinski

    loved the post! What great views!! I did the hobo socks last winter when I got stuck in Philadelphia in a snow storm. It works pretty good except of the noise it makes every step you take. 🙂 Stay safe.

  6. LOVED the photo of the iced up grass! But why did you get rid of your shoes again? Taking that hillbilly stuff too seriously? And who hands out free Grape Nuts on mountain peaks?

    • Bradley

      Haha trying to cut down the weight! And the Grape Nuts were in a basket in the park convenience shop near the top of the mountain.

  7. “Summary
    Miles: 52
    Acts of kindness: 2 – Free beer from Dan at Wedge Brewing Company who I met earlier in the day up near the top of Craggy Mountain”

    So what was the second act of kindness? A second beer?

    • Bradley

      Whoops! Haha it was indeed! Except from the bartender because he thought I waited too long before he got to me… I didn’t think it was that long but hey – No complaints!

  8. Steph Gaspers

    Awesome photos of the frosty bike and hobo shoes! Yeah, Brad!

  9. Jeff Brown

    Drinking a home brew as I’m reading your posts.
    Has to be easy to keep the Game Face going with all the post card views. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

  10. Michael Keefe

    Hey Brad… We don’t know each other well — I am an RPM/BP/CX instructor at Peak — but I think your ride is a GREAT adventure. I had to comment on this post because of the memories it brought back. Years (and years) ago I lived in North Carolina and road the Spartanburg, SC to Mt. Mitchell Summit century ride. Seeing your pics of the rode to the summit brought all the memories back, and I thank you for that! Keep on keepin’ on!

    • Bradley

      Hey Michael I think I can put a face to your name from the gym. Glad you enjoy the posts. The parkway is really amazing riding! Thanks for commenting!

  11. Katelyn Martens

    Looks like an amazing trip thus far, keep up your hard work and beautiful photos, living vicariously through you for sure right now 🙂

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