Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holston Mountain

Saturday I met Rick and Tammy @ Cross Mountain Tennessee for a run. Tammy likes to run South on the AT out to visit good ole Uncle Nick Grindstaff's grave.(Along the Appalachian Trail in Shady Valley on Iron Mountain, the dividing line between Shady Valley and Stoney Creek, there is the chimney-shaped grave of Uncle Nick Grindstaff, a man who, as the tombstone says, "Lived alone, Suffered alone, and Died alone.”)Here is one rendition of his story.
Rick and I take the AT north about 3.5 miles to Double Springs shelter then as you are climbing away from the shelter on the AT the Holston Mountain Trail takes off to your left. The trail is blazed blue and is hard to follow at times for the first couple miles. It is 9.5 mile on the Holston Mtn. Trl. to the firetower where we turn around giving us about 26 miles total.
At a point 3.5 miles south of Low Gap (U.S. 421) and 3.5 miles north of TN 91, the A.T. leaves Holston Mountain and heads southeast over Cross Mountain to Iron Mountain. From this point, the blue-blazed Holston Mountain Trail (USFS 44) continues southwest along the crest of Holston Mountain to Holston High Knob. Before 1954, this was the route of the A.T. Its abandonment as the A.T. route, while necessary to avoid the wide valley crossings to the south, was nevertheless undertaken with some reluctance because of the considerable beauty and ease of traverse of this route. For 9.5 miles, this trail follows the mountain crest through pleasant forest growth with no major change of elevation. Outstanding features include Flint Rock, a high rock outcropping near Flint Mill Gap overlooking the Holston River Valley and South Holston Lake, and Holston High Knob with a USFS fire and communications tower. This trail is maintained by the Watauga Ranger District of USFS.

We checked out this trail for the first time this year.  In the summer we experienced lots of overgrowth, including deadly Brier bushes and chest high stinging nettles. We were looking forward to returning to this trail after the cold had taken down the vegetation and leaves so it would be easier to stay on the trail and catch some views of the lake. What we didn't expect to find were the large amount of briers still on the trail. My legs were a sight to behold when we made it back to the car.

It was a pretty uneventful run, we just took it easy and enjoyed being out. Once you are on the Holston Mtn. Trl. you can catch some good views of the lake. It looks like a huge relief map from up on the ridge line. Being the time of year that it is we expected to see hunters. We only actually saw 2, but we did hear a couple of gun shots, and come across several signs they were among us. The 4 wheeler didn't have keys so we could only look, but we did get to try out the handy dandy tree stand! hope they didn't mind.
Just so I don't forget again, I'm going to put this down in writing.... This run has some climbing in it! I'm sure I'm still a bit tired from Masochist, but these climbs were boogers. We got to the fire tower, our turn around point and Rick decided to go up. I had only made up two levels the last time and with it being pretty windy I decided to just stick to the ground.
I explored around and looked at an old "out house" and another pile of concrete that I couldn't distinguish. You can see the C2 monument in the ground which we are guessing was a way for air traffic to identify the spot for landing.
I had packed a peanut butter, jelly, and cranberry sandwich so i munched on that and fiddled with my pack. The trip back was slightly quicker even though our pace slowed and our legs stiffened. I definitely need to spend some time with the foam roller, stick, massage, yoga, etc. I took a wonderful body movement class last night, including some tai chi, nia dance movement, yoga, kung fu, breathing exercises, etc. It was a great way to start loosening up all those tight muscles and lots of fun while learning.
I'm looking forward to the long holiday weekend and a trip to Asheville for great food, family, friends and a fun run! SO Very much to be Thankful for! Have a great holiday! gobble gobble!


  1. For those of you who have never run this section, you are certainly missing alot. As far as I know, Beth and I are the only two to ever run the Holston Mountain Trail. We still have some scouting to do on some trails coming up from the South Holston Lake side of the mountain. A winter run on this trail is certainly better than a summer run, but your legs still get cut up a good bit. I really think that Beth would have received Best Blood as she has some very nice briar gashes. I agree that this trail is far hillier than the book description. This makes for a good hard days loop.

    Saturday in Asheville at The Gobbler, you are going to have to show us some of the things you learned in last night's body movement class.

    We do have so much to be thankful for and Saturday's run with you was just one of the things I am thankful for!

  2. I've hiked the HMT but never run it! Love the Firetower and the great views you get . . . but it's pretty scary!!

    Have a great Thanksgiving! And we'll see you out there sometime soon!

  3. Wow, I haven't heard the name Nick Grindstaff in a LONG time.... I do remember the legend from my hike thru Damascus on the AT many many years ago. Are there still Grindstaffs in Damascus? For some reason I seem to remember a Grindstaff showing my friend and I how to get from the Post Office to the Hostel. Okay Beth, on another subject, hoping to hear about your run in Asheville Tgiving weekend. How'd it go?

  4. Rob, The Grindstaff that you are talking about in Damascus was Paschal Grindstaff. He is now deceased (about two years ago). He was the postmaster in Damascus. He was originally from Mountain City, TN and he had no children so there are none of his line still in Damascus.

  5. That's the guy Rick...Paschal Grindstaff-it was 32 years ago. It was 1978 when a friend and I hiked thru. If my math is right it was probably the year Jenny was born and before Beth was born. I have good memories of Damascus. My friend and I met two local girls and well we hung around for a couple of days before heading back to the trail!