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Old Jan 24, 2011, 4:03 PM   #1
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Default Wintry Unaka Mountain

Had some time Saturday for one of my favorite short mountain hikes - up Limestone Cove Trail and Stamping Ground Ridge to Unaka Mountain. This wilderness hike (Unaka Mountain Wilderness) is only about 8 miles round trip, but quite a bit of climbing with all the elevation change.

There was less than a half inch of snow near the base of the mountain, just enough to make things look pretty...
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Old Jan 24, 2011, 4:06 PM   #2
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The snow made for some pretty good tracking. We did not see any other human tracks, but did see several sets of Black Bear tracks. Black Bears are not true hibernators, sometimes they wake up hungry and prowl around a bit during the winter.

First shot is a single track. 2nd shot is another from the same bear, with my track and one of my dog's tracks nearby, to show something of the size of the bear track.
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Old Jan 24, 2011, 4:07 PM   #3
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The higher we climbed, the deeper the snow got. Here are some rabbit tracks in the shallower snow, and another bear in the deeper snow (over 1 1/2 feet) near the top.
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Old Jan 24, 2011, 4:09 PM   #4
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Deeper snows made for some interesting patterns on the spruces, and some interesting walking on the trail!
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Old Jan 24, 2011, 4:11 PM   #5
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There had been an ice storm the day before up on top of the mountain. This made for a slippery crust on top of the snow - luckily we kept breaking through and didn't slip much!

Ice also made for some amazing patterns in the mountain vegetation.
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Old Jan 24, 2011, 4:13 PM   #6
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Stamping Ground Ridge offers some fine views of the surrounding mountains - also holding a fair amount of snow.
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Old Jan 24, 2011, 4:14 PM   #7
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We had planned to go on to Horseback Ridge, and maybe even on to Beauty Spot for some even better views. But the old road on the top was deeply snow covered, and the ice crust made for some very slow going. So we decided to head on back down, and avoid hiking in the dark!!
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Old Jan 24, 2011, 4:17 PM   #8
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Hiked back down very quickly - more like jogging than hiking - to keep warm to to be sure to get back before sunset! Next time we'll have to plan an earlier start to this hike!

Hope you enjoyed the hike up the wilderness area, and will share your comments & critique!
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Old Jan 24, 2011, 5:07 PM   #9
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Beautiful, Mole!
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Old Jan 24, 2011, 5:09 PM   #10
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Beautiful shots...the ice covered branches, the snow covered Evergreen boughs and the last pix are my faves.

Clarity and sharpness is wonderful.

Winter wonderland pictures for sure.

You have the eye of an artist .
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