Ascent of MacRae Peak on 2016-10-09

Climber: Bradley R

Date:Sunday, October 9, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:MacRae Peak
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:5845 ft / 1781 m

Ascent Trip Report

How I chose this hike: I woke up and got ready to go to church with my wife. As soon as we walked outside my wife said you should go hiking, you're going to be complaining all day that you should have gone hiking (it was beautiful). We started driving to church and took a turn where Table Rock could be seen it was clear and beautiful, I turned around and drove home to go hiking. Since it was a relatively late start and I didn't have anything planned Grandfather was a convenient choice. I quickly packed my bag and changed into hiking close.

Parking: The closest thing to the parking area I could find was "Tanawha Trail" type this into google maps and look for parking on the uphill side of the BRPW.

The Plan: Hike up Tanawha to Daniel Boone to Grandfather trails (bagging Grandfather aka Calloway, Attic Window, and Macrae). Turn around at Macrae, returning via Grandfather>Daniel Boone>Cragway>Nuwati>Tanawha. I followed this plan.

The hike: I parked at the trail head after a little struggle to find it. Parking at the trailhead was full, but not overcrowded. Other parking areas along the BRPW had been miserably crowded. There were two rangers standing in the parking area, one came to me and asked "Are you planning on going to the top", I said "yes", they responded something to the effect of "I can't stop you from going, but you should reconsider, gusts of wind have been measured as high as 80 mph this morning and trees are down along the trail." I said "I'll go until it gets bad".

After getting home I would look up the weather for this day and found they had recorded wind gusts as high as 67.7 mph at 5300 feet. Calloway is about 650 feet higher, so 80 mph may have been accurate.

I started on Tanawha for about 0.4 miles. I stopped to fill out a hiking permit, which is required. These either weren't required in 2013 or I missed them. Another ranger came up and asked me and another group if we'd considered the conditions. The other group started talking to her, I didn't say anything and continued.

Next I continued onto Daniel Boone Trail for 2.9 miles (3.3 total). Through this section I was by myself for a while. Eventually I came out to my first view (Flat rock, or something like that). I stepped out on this rock and there were two other groups of people. A women by herself was almost blown off the rock she was on by a gust of wind. I stumbled backwards from gusts a few times. It would have been a bad idea to stand near the edge of any cliffs. The other two groups and I all left about he same time. One group I believe had enough wind and turned around. The women continued just ahead of me. She flew up the mountain, but acted like she didn't want to talk. I was afraid I might be making her uncomfortable. After probably 1.5 miles of hiking near one another she turned off the trail at what appeared to be a random point. I continued on, at around 2.3 miles I lost the trail and used my GPS to re-find the trail. I would lose the trail in the same area on the way down. Toward the end of this trail I met a handful of ladders, two fairly tall. None of these were exposed to wind and were easy to climb. Very near Calloway Peak I met two guys from Jacksonville NC. They were headed down, but apparently would turn around soon, because I would cross paths with them at least 6 times, Including where I turned around on Macrae peak. Finally I reached Calloway Peak.

I next continued on Grandfather trail for 1.15 miles (4.45 total). On this trail there was a couple of ladders, one very exposed to the wind making for a nervous decent on it. I was surprised by the number of people toughing out the wind up here. Though many I met after I got off the ladders admitted they were turning around after not wanting to battle the wind climbing a ladder or scrambling up exposed rocks. Along this trail I scrambled to the top of Attics Window which was a bit nerve racking at points with the wind bursting. Next I went down the steep ravine from Attics Window toward Macrae. Along the way here I crossed paths with a guy several times I learned he ran long distance trail races (i.e. 50Ks). I then met a fork and took a left to stay on Grandfather Trail.

On this last section of Grandfather trail I hiked about 0.1 miles to Macrae, then returned to the fork with Underwood, where I had turned for a total of 0.2 miles (4.65 total). On this short section was a ladder and cable up steep rock and another ladder to access Macraes peak. At the first ladder and cable I would wait several minutes (maybe 10 minutes) with the guys from Jacksonville for another group to get down. Macrae was the only peak here I hadn't been to before. I think it's now my favorite point on Grandfather, great views of the rock walls on Grandfather and surrounding mountains and valleys.

I continued back on the Grandfather in reverse of the way I had came up. The return to Calloway was difficult after re-climbing Attics Window and Calloway. I started feeling fatigued and slowing down a bit. I considered staying on Daniel Boone, and skipping Cragway. After starting down Daniel Boone my legs came back to life and I decided to complete my original plan. This was for 1.15 miles (5.8 miles total). I continued down Daniel Boone the way I had came up for 2.4 miles (7.2 total) before turning off on Cragway trail.

I hiked on cragway for 0.9 miles (8.1 total). The best view was of the Daniel Boone Bowl where you feel surrounded by mountainous walls for 270 degrees. Then I met Nuwati trail which I hiked for 0.7 miles (for a total of 8.8 miles). I then finished on the Tanawha trail, the same 0.4 miles I started on and finished up at 9.2 miles. For this last section my feet were hurting and I was ready to see my truck.

My pace was just over 40 minutes per mile, including all breaks I took, completing the hike in 6 hours and 8 minutes.

People: Despite the severe weather I met up to 50 groups of other hikers.

Other Notes:
- I had forgotten how difficult this mountain is to hike
- I'll remember this hike for the wind
Summary Total Data
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Extremely Windy, Clear
Beautiful, but extremely windy
Ascent Part of Trip: McRae

Complete Trip Sequence:
 Grandfather Mountain2016-10-09 ae2838 ft / 865 m
 Attic Window Peak2016-10-09 bd 
 MacRae Peak2016-10-09 c 
Total Trip Gain: 2838 ft / 865 m    Total Trip Loss: 2838 ft / 865 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Bradley R
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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