|Hike Name:||Panthertown Valley - Big Green Mountain|
|Trip Date:||November 15, 2003|
|Trail Conditions:||Fair to Good|
|Trip Weather:||Partly Sunny, Partly Cloudy|
|Trip Winds:||Light to Moderate|
|Trip Temperature:||High: 71-80, Low: 41-50 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Trip Report:||Saturday (11/15/03) – Had some bagels this am for breakfast, then headed for the Cold Mountain Gap trailhead at Panthertown Valley. We took three cars for some reason and were surprised to find a lot of vehicles and people at the parking area. Many were backpackers that planned to overnight in the valley with temps in the low 40’s expected for the night.
We mostly hiked the Forest Service road down to Schoolhouse Falls and were passed by three emergency service vehicles on the road. It was obvious that someone was seriously hurt, but I didn’t expect to get back to the falls and find out that someone had died of a heart attack. The guy was 44 with a wife and two kids (and from either Asheville or Nashville). He was hiking with four old college buddies and they tried to give him CPR without any success. We talked to one of this friends and he was still in shock about it. The entire situation was a sad one with many day hikers coming in to the area (but I’m sure the friends just wanted some privacy.) We passed six to seven ATV’s on the loop hike and all were headed into the area to help. I was impressed with the quick response by the volunteer fire department. They ended up hauling the body out in a basket on an ATV since the emergency service vehicles could not get back the narrow trail to the falls. It was a sobering experience to say the least.
At this point, we parted ways with our group and The Camel, Steve, and I hiked a loop over Big Green Mountain which was about six miles in all. The climb up Big Green Mountain was very difficult, even with a day pack, and if I do this hike again I’ll do it in reverse. There are great views from Big Green Mountain but limited campsites at the summit (although we didn’t follow a second and longer spur trail that was east of the mountain and may hidden a camping area.) We also didn’t find any water on the mountain, so it is best to carry it along unless you plan to get it from a stream about one mile from the summit.
Once we were on the ridge with Big Green Mountain the hiking was much easier. There are, however, many intersecting trails in this area and a compass and map are mandatory for this hike. Without them, we would have definitely made some mistakes getting back to the Cold Mountain Gap trailhead (which we made just after 4pm.) In fact we had the map and compass out freqently once we left Big Green Mountain and used most of the way back to the cars.