Some people ask why I’m hiking these mountain peaks in North Carolina. I hike because I want people to know that life does not end with Chemo. Yes, I still have side effects from the treatments. My joints ache and my feet are numb at times, but I refuse to let  adversity prevent me from living fully and from telling others about the hope my life contains.

I have a strong faith, and I believe that we are all here for a reason. That reason is not to stop or sit on the sidelines. So, let’s hike to the top of something pretty high and then tell others, who are battling this same disease that they can do it, too!

On this day, we were going to hike Tennent Mountain, but we had to hike to the top of Black Balsam Bald first.

I quickly noticed new and updated bear warning signs had been installed. Does anyone really read these? We scan them and took note that, once again, we did not bring the bear spray. This is such a well traveled area that I didn’t think we would “actually” see a bear.

Black Balsam Bald is a must-hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway (milepost 420.2, about 26 miles from Asheville). The Black Balsam Knob area includes some of the most spectacular mountain balds in the Southern Appalachians, including Black Balsam Knob (or Black Balsam Bald), Sam Knob and Tennent Mountain.

These treeless mountaintops in the Pisgah National Forest draw people from all over the world to soak in the sweeping views with an alpine-like feel. Almost entirely devoid of trees above 6,000 ft. elevation, the summits are more reminiscent of New England than North Carolina.

Not many wild flowers blooming on the way up to the top. Black Balsam’s June is our mid spring. Temps are always in the mid ’70’s. Once at the top, you can walk three miles on the balds without dropping back into the trees. At 6,214 ft., Black Balsam Knob is the 23rd highest of the 40 mountains in North Carolina over 6,000 ft. It was the second Bald I hike after stopping Chemo last year

We found out the hard way that the trailhead is not accessible much of the winter, since the Parkway is often closes due to snow or ice.

Beth is really standing on the top of Black Balsam and near the official marker. We mistakenly thought Tennent Mountain (the next peak) was just over the ridge  in the background of this photo. Ha! That’s what we thought.

More of us going UP. This one is of Pat walking the rocky pathway.

I have decided that trekking poles have changed my life, especially during this time of recovery. My pole converts into a monopod for my camera—a great solution for hiking.

Pat is standing in front of Sam’s Knob, which is our next challenge in the not so distant future.

I always say there is a reason they call the Parkway—the Blue Ridge.

And then there is Lulu, the  Boykin Spaniel that was all over the different Kolbs with her owner. We ran into her on Black Balsam and then again on Tennent. Wherever we were there was Lulu!