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Outdoors Notebook: Hiking club takes viewers along to lofty Mount Mitchell

People unable to visit towering Mount Mitchell to enjoy its awe-inspiring views and hike its rugged trails now can do so via computers and smart phones.
People unable to visit towering Mount Mitchell to enjoy its awe-inspiring views and hike its rugged trails now can do so via computers and smart phones. File Photo

People unable to visit towering Mount Mitchell to enjoy its awe-inspiring views and hike its rugged trails now can do so via computers and smart phones.

Members of the N.C. High Peaks Trail Association, based in Burnsville, recently used the latest in Google photography/video and GPS technology to capture 360-degree scenes from the mountain’s summit and along the 11-mile Black Mountain Crest Trail.

“Now, ‘hikers’ can climb the 6,684-foot peak without leaving the comfort of their homes,” Mark Williams wrote in the latest edition of the weekly Yancey Times Journal.

“With nothing more than the click of a computer mouse, they can drink in spectacular scenery from every step along the highest elevation hiking path in the Eastern U.S.”

The photos and videos can be found at nchighpeaks.org. They were filmed using a Google Trekker, a 40-pound device with 15 cameras, GPS, a large battery and huge capacity computer drive, all mounted on an aluminum frame. The rig is carried like a backpack.

Mount Mitchell, which rises above the Blue Ridge mountains in Yancey County, is celebrating its 100th anniversary as a state park, the first established in North Carolina. The mountain ranks as the highest east of the Mississippi River and has an intriguing history.

Dr. Elisha Mitchell, a UNC professor, first began exploring the mountain during the 1830s and determined it to be of greater elevation than Mount Washington in New Hampshire, thought to be the tallest in the east. When his findings were disputed, Mitchell made return trips to the mountain to recalculate. During a final journey in 1857 he lost his life on its western flank when he fell over a waterfall. He is buried at the summit.

According to Williams, the Google device used by the hiking club at Mount Mitchell shoots an image every 2.5 seconds. Technicians stitch the images together. The Trekker was developed as an off-shoot of Google’s “Street View” program, which uses vehicles outfitted with similar cameras to log 360-degree views of nearly every street in the United States. Observer News Service

Fishing tournament results

▪ The duo of Dale Duncan and Donnie Woody scored a $14,000 payoff Saturday at Lake Norman, taking a Carolinas Bass Challenge Series tournament with five fish weighing 19.57 pounds. A whopping 229 two-person teams competed in the event based at Blythe Landing. Adam Waters and Dylan Fulk finished a close second with 19.11 pounds, earning $5,000. Third were Craig Chambers and Keith Ogden with 18.94 pounds, worth $3,500. The tournament’s big bass bonus, for a largemouth of 6.09 pounds, went to Donald Poteat and John Allen and helped them win $5,300 while finishing fourth.

▪ Mike Munday of Statesville and Rodney Kurley of Troutman teamed for a runaway victory in a NC-CATS catfishing tournament at Lake Tillery. The pair caught three catfish scaling 103.9 pounds, including the competition’s largest single fish, which weighed 46.5 pounds. The trio of Kevin Custer, Trey Peacock and Kenneth Holestin finished second with 63.1 pounds.

▪ Casey and Larry Craig of Lancaster, S.C., teamed to take a Catawba Catfish Club tournament on Fishing Creek Reservoir with three fish weighing 68.35 pounds, winning $1,100. The trio of John Terry, Steve Whitley and Jeremy Wright placed second with 65.95 pounds, earning $660.

▪ David and Aaron Locklear boated catfish weighing 94.8 pounds at Blewett Falls to win the annual spring tournament sponsored by Scotty’s Bait and Tackle of Lilesville, winning $275. Cavin Lambert boated the largest fish, a lunker of 51.3 pounds.

Catches of the Week

▪ Dennis Lumpkin of the U.S. Navy hoped for an offshore fishing trip to remember before starting a deployment to Afghanistan. The sailor from the Manteo area got one. Trolling off Oregon Inlet aboard the Outer Limits, Lumpkin and party boated a 147-pound bluefin tuna, along with numerous blackfin and yellowfin.

▪ Approximately 100 spotted bass caught and mostly released at Lake Norman by Kerry Earnhardt of Mooresville while fishing with friend and area guide David Clubb.

▪ Thirty-two hybrids and 40 spotted bass by Charlottean Emmanuel Cheek and party at Lake Norman while fishing with Clubb. They kept limits for the table and released the rest.

▪ Fifteen Lake Norman striped bass, most in the 8-10-pound range, by Chris Hammer and Whitney Johnson of Winston-Salem while fishing with guide Craig Price.

▪ A 3.6-pound crappie at Santee Cooper by guide Steve English.

▪ A 30-pound blackfin tuna off Hatteras Village by Georgian Ramses Perdomo while trolling from the Good Times.

▪ A mix of bluefin, blackfin and yellowfin tuna, a mako shark and bottom species during an overnight trip off Hatteras Village by a party fishing from the Fin Again with skipper Kenny Koci.

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