Western North Carolina – WNC

Just back from a short visit to Western North Carolina where you can find the highest mountains in the Eastern United States.  I know that Virginia is a wonderful place to live and we have great hiking and beautiful mountains, but the area near Asheville really captured my heart on this visit.

We stayed near Black Mountain – a cute resort town with specialty shops and a variety of restaurants that are sure to fill everyone’s palate.  025

A local shop owner suggested we hike around Montreat College, just a couple of miles from Black Mountain.  Greeted by this entrance

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we stopped for a trail map and suggestions for a short hike (4 miles ish).  The young man at the shop guided us to a trail, and as we were walking up what was listed as “moderate” we quickly realized he thought we meant 4 miles one way.  This was NOT our intent as we had planned an afternoon in Asheville.  Also, I’m not sure how they rate their trails, but this was a little more than moderate,

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with 3 creek crossings like this one.

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We decided not to go to the top since we did not bring supplies for a longer hike.  But we veered off to have a look at the waterfall.

I don’t want to sound like a waterfall snob, but this one had me laughing.  I think I’ve seen more  action from my faucet.

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Still, it was a lovely day to be in the woods and we were doing what we enjoy.  We ended up hiking around 4 1/2 miles which was our original intent.

We did make it to Asheville later that day and were drawn to this old Woolworth’s building that has been converted to an art gallery, but kept it’s lunch counter.

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Asheville is a very fun artsy town which also yields some interesting restaurants, mostly emphasizing locally grown foods and local beers.

The next morning we headed out to the Blue Ridge Parkway and took a short 2 1/2 mile hike to see this view.

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Most views on the Parkway have easy access from the road.  But there is a Mountains to Sea trail that runs parallel to the BRP so if you are adventurous, you can hike or bike from one end of the state to the other.

It’s hard to capture the beauty of these mountains as amateur photographers, but we couldn’t resist trying.

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Growing up in the flat country of the Midwest, I’m still in awe of these majestic summits. I don’t think I will ever get tired of the incredible vistas provided by the Appalachian Mountains.

 

 

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A Strenuous Hike

Last night I had this brilliant idea that JG and I should get up early (4 ish) and go for an early morning hike – maybe even catch the sunrise.  He reluctantly agreed.  I woke up at 3:50 a.m. and decided to lay there just a little longer – which turned out to be 4:45. Okay, we might not see the sunrise on top of a mountain, but it’s still early enough to beat the crowds.

We decided on Peaks of OtterSharp Top.  This is a hike I had not tried, however, I have hiked it’s twin – Flat Top twice.  As we headed down the Interstate, we saw the fog interfere with the sunrise.

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We arrived as the first wave of early morning hikers were about to leave the parking lot.  I had not attempted this hike before because even though it is only 3 miles round trip, it is very steep, rocky, and every book has it listed as “strenuous.”  But today I was feeling frisky and while it was a major “huff and puff” going up, we made it.

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It was quite humid, so we are pretty much soaked by the time we reach the top. Even though it was a bit hazy, it was a very rewarding vista.

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It was a wonderful way to celebrate our nation’s birth.  I haven’t been such a proud American lately, at least not politically.  But the mountains remind me that there is so much more to this great country of ours than a few bad seeds in Washington.

Now I am completely exhausted and achy, so I plan to spend the rest of the day with my feet propped up.  Hope you all are having a good day!