“You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.” The Rolling Stones
Why This Mountain?
Mt. Mitchell is the highest point in North Carolina and east of the Mississippi. I had tried to hike this peak in the first half of 52, but due to severe thunderstorms I could not. For Peak #51, I had intended to hike Clingmans Dome in Tennessee. But another severe storm in Tennessee shut down electricity and the road to the trailhead. A quick decision was made to audible and go for Mitchell instead.
Mountain & Route Facts
Mount Mitchell is the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains and the highest peak in mainland eastern North America. It is located near Burnsville in Yancey County, North Carolina, in the Black Mountain subrange of the Appalachians, and about 19 miles (31 km) northeast of Asheville. It is protected by Mount Mitchell State Park and surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest. Mount Mitchell’s elevation is 6,684 feet (2,037 m) above sea level.
The mountain, previously known as Black Dome for its rounded shape, was named after Elisha Mitchell, a professor at the University of North Carolina, who first explored the Black Mountain region in 1835, and determined that the height of the range exceeded by several hundred feet that of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, commonly thought at the time to be the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains. Mitchell fell to his death at nearby Mitchell Falls in 1857, having returned to verify his earlier measurements.
Historical and Cultural Information
North Carolina is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west, Virginia to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. North Carolina is the 28th most extensive and the 9th most populous of the U.S. states. The state is divided into 100 counties. The capital is Raleigh. The most populous municipality is Charlotte, which is the second largest banking center in the United States after New York City.
Woodland-culture American Indians were in the area around 1000 BCE; starting around 750 CE. By 1550, many groups of American Indians lived in present-day North Carolina, including Chowanoke, Roanoke, Pamlico, Machapunga, Coree, Cape Fear Indians, Waxhaw, Waccamaw, and Catawba.
Juan Pardo explored the area in 1566–1567, establishing Fort San Juan in 1567 at the site of the Native American community of Joara, a Mississippian culture regional chiefdom in the western interior, near the present-day city of Morganton. The fort lasted only 18 months; the local inhabitants killed all but one of the 120 men Pardo had stationed at a total of six forts in the area. A later expedition by Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe followed in 1584, at the direction of Sir Walter Raleigh.
In June 1718, the pirate Blackbeard ran his flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, aground at Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina, in present-day Carteret County. After the grounding her crew and supplies were transferred to smaller ships. In November, after appealing to the governor of North Carolina, who promised safe-haven and a pardon, Blackbeard was killed in an ambush by troops from Virginia. In 1996 Intersal, Inc., a private firm, discovered the remains of a vessel likely to be the Queen Anne’s Revenge, which was added to the US National Register of Historic Places.
North Carolina became one of the English Thirteen Colonies and with the territory of South Carolina was originally known as the Province of Carolina. The northern and southern parts of the original province separated in 1729. Originally settled by small farmers, sometimes having a few slaves, who were oriented toward subsistence agriculture, the colony lacked cities or towns. Pirates menaced the coastal settlements, but by 1718 the pirates had been captured and killed. Growth was strong in the middle of the 18th century, as the economy attracted Scots-Irish, Quaker, English and German immigrants. The colonists generally supported the American Revolution, as the number of Loyalists was smaller than in some other colonies.
On May 20, 1861, North Carolina was the last of the Confederate states to declare secession from the Union, 13 days after the Tennessee legislature voted for secession. Some 125,000 North Carolinians served in the military; 20,000 were killed in battle, the most of any state in the Confederacy, and 21,000 died of disease. The state government was reluctant to support the demands of the national government in Richmond, and the state was the scene of only small battles.