Ascent of Cold Spring Knob on 2008-08-02

Climber: Brian Stansberry

Date:Saturday, August 2, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Cold Spring Knob
    Location:USA-North Carolina/Tennessee
    Elevation:5200 ft / 1584 m

Ascent Trip Report

The Middle Prong Trail rises very gradually out of Tremont, following an old railroad grade. The Greenbrier Ridge Trail is steeper, but compared to other "crest connector" trails in the area, it's relatively easy. Some parts of the Greenbrier Ridge Trail are overgrown, but nowhere is it indiscernible. The Appalachian Trail between the Greenbrier Ridge junction and Hemlock Knob has some elevation gain/loss, but nothing too difficult.

The ascent of Cold Spring Knob's western slope was the most difficult part of this route. The elevation gain is appx. 450 feet (137m) in just over 0.3 mi (0.5km). I had to make an unexpected stop halfway up to catch my breath, which is rare for me, even at Mile 10. A couple hiking from Clingmans Dome to Derrick Knob and back passed me, and said they were trying to beat their best time.
The ascent from Buckeye Gap to the east is also fairly steep, from what I could tell.

As I was resting at the Miry Ridge Trail junction, I heard rumbles of thunder in the distance. I packed up and descended Miry Ridge as fast I could, hoping to get over the ridge's backbone and into the thick forest before the rain started to fall. Just past the Lynn Camp Prong junction, the storm hit full throttle. Although the forest canopy protected me, for the most part, I could see the rain blowing sideways over the slope through the treeline. The lower clouds shot up the hollows like geysers. Most of the thunder consisted of drawn-out rumbles, the exception being one loud blast that sounded like a transformer exploding. Oddly enough, I didn't see any lightning throughout the entire storm. The rain ended and the sun returned appx. 10 minutes after the storm reached its most intense moment.

While dawdling at Ben Parton Lookout, I suddenly remembered that I would have to cross a wide section of Lynn Camp Prong at the end of the Panther Creek Trail. Worried that the water levels would rise and leave me stranded, I raced down to Jakes Gap, and then hurried down Panther Creek. The trail has several stream crossings, and I as moved along, I noticed that water levels were indeed higher than normal (but nothing I couldn't rock-hop across). When I reached Lynn Camp Prong, I was relieved to see that it wasn't a gushing muddy mess. I rock-hopped halfway across, and then waded knee-high across a relatively calm 15-foot span of water back to the Middle Prong Trail.
Summary Total Data
    Round-Trip Distance:21.6 mi / 34.8 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Stream Ford
    Weather:Thunderstorm, Pleasant, Breezy, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Distance:12.2 mi / 19.6 km
    Route:Middle Prong Tr./Greenbrier Ridge Tr./A.T.
Descent Statistics
    Distance:9.4 mi / 15.1 km
    Route:A.T./Miry Ridge Tr./Panther Creek Tr./Middle Prong
Ascent Part of Trip: Tremont Grand Loop

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Big Chestnut Bald2008-08-02 
2Hemlock Knob2008-08-02 
3Cold Spring Knob2008-08-02 

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