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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Rattlesnake Summit

Rattlesnake Mountain Trail (shown in red)
One of our favorite get away places is Ridgecrest Center in Ridgecrest, NC. It sits right at the continental divide. As you climb up the mountain along I-40 West bound you crest the ridge and there it is over to the right side of the Interstate. We took a trip to Tennessee a few weeks back but planned to stop off at Ridgecrest for a night on our way back. We cached our way up to Ridgecrest, checked in and then took a few minutes to consider whether the weather was going to hold or not. The last 30 minutes of our drive put us in a steady drizzle. It had been my plan to climb Rattlesnake Summit to find three geocaches on the ridge connecting to the summit but with the weather looking menacing, I was reconsidering. Fortunately the weather looked like it might clear
The Cross thanks to Jessica
up so off we went. We drove up to the tennis courts, cutting half a mile off of our hike. From there we grabbed the trail head. The hike consisted of a gentle climb along a well prepared trail. I got a little turned around on the trails at the lake. Once I got straightened out there (don't always trust the signage) we were again on our way towards the first cache. As we climbed we were ever cognizant of the threat of bears. Just that morning there were reports of bears rummaging around the retreat center after garbage. We made noise and talked loudly in hopes that any bear in the area would hear us coming and leave before we ever saw it.

We climbed to the ridge line where the trail took a sharp 90 degree turn to left allowing for a more gradual ascent towards the summit. The closest cache was just above us some 60 feet so I couldn't resist climbing up to look for it. sumajhuarmi stayed on the trail and kept checking on me. I was just beyond her view. I couldn't find the cache but found another trail above the cache. I gave up, came down to where sumajhuarmi was and we continued up the trail. The summit was only about 600 feet up the trail. The last couple hundred feet was rock outcropping but it was easy. We made it to the top but couldn't see anything for the clouds. We set out to find. Rattlesnake Mountain Summit (GC4ERVJ). We searched the area until finally sumajhuarmi pointed out a reference that might help us. Sure enough, it was there. Just as I was kneeling down to sign the log sheet I heard from maybe 15 feet above me at the summit (also beyond some bushes) a loud hop like a wild animal. At first it startled me, then I realized it was another climb. I hollered back, probably surprising her as much as she'd surprised me. It was one of the camp counselors at the girls camp below. She'd taken off on her own to climb the summit and thought she was alone on the summit. Surprise! I managed to hide the cache without her being any the wiser. We talked a few minutes, then headed back down the trail. We thought we'd look for the cache I had not found. As we walked down we found the intersecting trail that passed just above the missing cache. Within no time sumajhuarmi had My Left Foot (GC4J3XR) in hand. We pushed on up the trail a short distance more to look for the other shoe. That's right. The next cache was Get Off on the Right Foot (GC4J1K9), placed by the same cacher. Again, sumajhuarmi came up with the cache looking through the rhododendron. All done. The sun broke out and we started down the mountain back to Ridgecrest.
Laural Bluff Lodging at Ridgecrest thanks to Jessica

Ridgecrest from I-40 thanks to Zepfanman
When we got back to the room I logged my finds and out of curiosity checked to see how far we were from some previous caches we had found on this mountain. I posted that adventure on April 7th 2013 entitled Geocaching the Lookout Mountain Trail, Montreat, NC. I was so surprised to find that I was practically at one of the key caches in that March 2013 climb. The climb from the Montreat side was significantly harder (and provided some vistas making it well worth the climb) than the Ridgecrest climb. I also noticed that some fellow cachers have populated the area with some new caches. Anyone wishing to find these caches should contact the Ridgecrest Retreat Center to climb from their side. They might let you. I don't know. For no questions asked, check out the April 7th post and go from the Montreat side. It's all public entry from that side and gets you to the same area. Happy caching!
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