My brother and I started on the Byron Reece trailhead around 4:00 pm on Saturday. We had a 1400 ft elevation gain hike in front of us. The pace was set high in order to have the camp situated before sun-down. The trail is considered moderate to difficult with its steep rocky inclines. We determined our pace was too fast after making it to the top out of breath and hearts pounding. Panoramic views of the rolling Appalachian mountains were neat. The total time of the hike up was 1hr 15mins which left us plenty of time to set up camp before the sun set.
If you've ever experienced an Appalachian Mountain sunset, you know that capturing its magnificence is impossible to do in a photo or video. Standing on the peak of Blood Mountain, you're able to see a great expanse of the mountain range as it extends northeast. Cold winds chilled us to the bone but we kept our eyes on the rewarding scenery until the show was over.
No time was wasted sparking up a camp fire. We strategically set up camp in such a way that a rock wall that shielded us from wind. After a few hours of warmth by the fire, we bundled up into our Eno hammocks. Sleep was very limited as we battled to keep our feet from becoming icicles (multiple pairs of socks and foot warmers would've been nice). We decided to restart the camp fire at 5:30 am after our feet had had enough. I rehung my Eno in order to hang my feet over the fire. Finally warm, I was able to get a couple more hours of shut-eye. Meanwhile, Daniel laid his sleeping bag next to the fire, every now and again feeding the flames.
The fog didn't allow us to see the sun rise. We were packed up and departing from camp by 8:30 am. I've always favored morning hikes not only because it normally contains a lot of downhill, but because of how peaceful they can be. We passed many hikers on the way up the mountain but on the morning hike we passed just two couples. It only took us 45 minutes to reach the bottom.
My first time on Blood Mountain was all-in-all a great experience. The views from the top are simply outstanding and no-doubt worth the 4.8 mile round-trip. It's a great day-hike destination. I'm interested to see what the camping is like during spring.
P.S. Blood Mountain's name is believed to originate from a bloody battle between the Cherokee and Creek Indians.