Sunday, September 28, 2014


 Rattlesnake Knob and Copperhead Knob

The Fat Bald White Guy was able to attend the inaugural Black Mountain Weekend hosted by North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest.  A double treat was that my son the Real Big White Guy (RBWG) was able to attend it with me.  Great men's conference, but looming above the Ridgecrest Center was the Rattlesnake Trail. The FBWG and his new hiking companion, the RBWG, could not resist!

One of our speakers was Frank Turek who is the author of a book entitled.  "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be Atheist" 
 Frank pointed out many truths of science and history that pointed to the existence of an awesome Creator God.  The sign reminded us of a verse he cited. 

 "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without an excuse" (Rom. 1:20)
From the parking lot outside our residence lodge we could see the sun breaking up the clouds and the first evidence of fall adorning the trees.  My brief trail research had good news and bad news.  The trail to the Rattlesnake Knob was only 1.5 miles long but climbed 750 feet.  A side excursion to Copperhead Knob was a .4 mile round trip. So I expected a four mile round trip.... but no one counted the extra 100 feet or so elevation from the parking lot to the trail head.  This was a steep climb. And you know how much I dislike steps! 
The Real Big White Guy hustled up the steps leaving me huffing and puffing behind....oh the advantages of youth!  

After climbing two different flights of steps we encountered a steep narrow trail which made me wonder if we would ever find the trail head to Rattlesnake Knob.

When we finally arrived at the trail head my viewranger app registered .8 miles!  And we did take note of the warning on the sign... more on that later!  

The trail is really a narrow logging road and is surrounded by tall trees, wildflowers and lush rhododendrons.  Oh yes, did I mention that the trail was steep?
Noticing that we were knocking down cobwebs on the trail I related to the RBWG a lesson learned on Rockjock Trail in the Linville Gorge.  The presence of cobwebs indicated we were the first ones on the trail and therefore no one had scared away the snakes!  We learned on Rockjock when we encountered a Timber Rattler that snakes like to lounge in the afternoon sun on lonely trails.  No sooner than I said that, I stopped and pointed to the trail ahead.  There was Mr. Nicholas Noneck.

Truly a beautiful snake. It was black with blue stripes. From the color we concluded he was a Carolina Panther Snake.  This is all we saw of him.  It took several well placed rocks to get him to move from his warm spot, as we chose to obey the sign and not pet him.

Not far from the Carolina Panther snake we got our first glimpse of Ridgecrest in the distance.  It sure did look a long way off and we had not reached halfway point yet!  Soon we came upon the Copperhead Knob spur trail.  The sign said the knob was .2 miles away.  We climbed along a narrow trail and the RBWG pointed out the evidence of a recent fire. 

 While we debated whether is was a natural or controlled burn, the RBWG stopped and proved to me that he had learned something on the trail.  Our second Nicky Noneck was lounging in the sun.  It was a small rat snake which really look like a tree limb.
This snake was more easily identified as a Carolina Rat Snake, sometimes referred to as "Fedora".  It took great exception to be interrupted from its afternoon sun bath, but eventually conceded the trail to us.  The trail up to Copperhead Knob is very narrow and overgrown to the point that we were looking for the real thing as we climbed to the top.  Getting to the knob, the RBWG, exclaimed as he got his first glimpse of the distant mountain vista, "Now I know why you hike!"
From Copperhead Knob you have a nearly 180 degree view eastward.  Ridgecrest, Black Mountain and Interstate 40 seemed quite small when framed by the distant blue ridge.  Thinking of our brothers down at Ridgecrest, I was reminded of a Psalm of David: 

"As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people from this time forth and forever" (Psalm 125:2)

After returning to the Rattlesnake Trail we trudged up a steep incline to a large camping site which served as an intersection of sorts for two trails.  The logging road continued to the right and a sign directed us to the narrow trail on the left to Rattlesnake Knob.  I told the RBWG that this is the type of trail we encounter in the gorge.  It was narrow, steep and rocky.  The effort was worth it!
The view is to the north and west and with some rock scrambling we got to see nearly 180 degrees of mountains in every direction.

Waiting to greet us on the summit was John Newby, an assistant district attorney from Kinston.  John played football at Furman and is a very big white guy (VBWG).  I could not resist taking a pic of the RBWG and his new friend, VBWG.  Any Sasquatch sightings in the area can now be disregarded.

"Before the mountains were born, or you gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God! " Psalm 90:2

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer. My God, my Rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and my horn of salvation, my stronghold and my salvation, my Savior... 2 Samuel 22:3

Rating the trail will be difficult.  As far as effort to view, the trail is about right.  It is far from an effortless trail.  It is deceptively steep for such a short distance.  Our round trip was 4 miles and I would bet from the parking lot to the summit of Rattlesnake Knob and Copperhead Knob we climbed 900 feet.  The access to the trail is great if you can get into Ridgecrest ....8;  the trail is well marked and well maintained but aside from the views from the knob, there is not much to see...7; the views are great....mountains in every direction form a nice back drop to the Ridgecrest Center first hike with the RBWG ...10+  The trail is a solid 8....if you are at Ridgecrest you have to take this hike!
One last thing....I like Mike!  He has the endorsement of the Fat Bald White Guy. For that matter I am sure the Real Big White Guy and the Very Big White Guy also support him.  Please vote for Mike!

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