Hiking Heaven

JG and I just spent the most wonderful week of hiking in the Pisgah National Forest.  Located just south of Asheville, NC this area has a little something for everyone – hikers, bikers, fishermen, swimmers, as long as you enjoy the outdoors, you will have a good time here.

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We made our base in the quaint town of Hendersonville, a town of 13,000 but feels like a real city with over 130 restaurants and a downtown filled with delightful shops.  The first thing we noticed were the bears – no not the ones you find in the forest, but the bear art that is everywhere downtown.

This has become a retirement community for very active seniors, we saw a lot of white hair on the trails.  But there were plenty of young families out too.

First day of hiking was to Dupont Forest where the waterfalls were the main attraction.

Of course if you want a view and you don’t want to put much effort into it – Jump Off Rock is the place to go.

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Day 2 we headed to Flat Rock and hiked the trails around the Carl Sandburg Home.

The view was blocked by the trees, but we did see some wild turkeys.

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A quick trip to Brevard, yielded a glimpse at a white squirrel (which I had never before seen).

Okay that last shot is just me being silly.

Also saw these sites while walking around downtown Brevard.

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The last day, we did our most challenging hike to John’s Rock – located near a fish hatchery, this is named for all the workers who helped build parks for the CCC during the Roosevelt administration.

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Walking through what is considered a rain forest, and crossing the creek on log bridges, IMG_20180712_094133IMG_20180712_093830 you arrive on top of the world.

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Our timing could have been better, because as soon as we got to the top, we could see some weather headed our way.

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And, sure enough, we ended up walking the 1.7 miles back down in the rain.  We had towels and clean clothes in the car, it was a warm day, and we actually ended up enjoying it.

Life is always an adventure with this guy by my side.

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Shhh, it’s a secret. . .

One of the things I like best about hiking, is the peacefulness of being in the forest.  Nothing can ruin a hike quicker for me than to meet a fellow hiker with a boom box (yes, this has happened).  I’m not crazy about crowds when I’m seeking solitude.  So I was delighted to discover a little known hike, with an amazing view; not a single fellow hiker in sight; (other than JG) and, it required almost no effort to walk to the rocky ledge.

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It did, however, require long pants.  This trail is not well traveled so you do have to sift through some thickets.

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Can you spot my companion?

It was a little on the hazy side today, but the view was still incredible.

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That’s JG with his signature drink.

We originally planned a longer hike, but on Monday, JG thought it would be fun for us to learn Pickleball.  Let’s just say, it was a little more strenuous than we anticipated and one of us pulled a muscle (JG) and was not sure how far he could hike.

We enjoyed our time up there.  I’m not going to tell you where it is because I don’t want it to become another McAfee’s Knob.  (Actually, there is little chance of that since it requires a 3.3 mile drive down a narrow, gravel road.) But, still.

Now it’s off to celebrate our National Holiday.  Even though I’m not feeling a lot of patriotism these days, I’ll take any excuse to hang out with friends.  I’ll leave you with this one last view of my mystery hike.

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Hope you all had a fun day!

Biking, Hiking, and World Cup

This weekend our little town hosted Bike Virginia.  I put my bike away about 10 years ago (after an unfortunate spill) and have not looked back.  But JG still rides frequently, so we decided to stroll down to the park and have a look.

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Interesting use of our soccer goals. . .

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Oh well, I guess if they were soccer fans they would have been inside watching the fantastic comeback of Germany in the 2nd round of the World Cup.  What a game!  JG was ecstatic!  If they don’t win Wednesday, I’m going to root for Mexico, our closest neighbor who is doing pretty well so far.

After not hiking one single mile in the month of June (here it is the 24th already), JG and I finally got out there today for a quick hike on a previously ignored trail at Mill Creek.  It was so green and so beautiful and I think I discovered a place to take my novice hikers.  This 3 mile loop was quite easy with just a little incline here and there.  I think it might be a trail for mountain bikers.  I proved to be a true hiker today, having enjoyed the walk through the forest with no view!  Other than the forest and the creek that is.

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Lookout, Babe!

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Thanks to a few showers this weekend, the air was mostly cool and the sun was shining brightly!

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Back home we watched Poland lose to Columbia (boy Columbia had a lot of fans there).  Any soccer fans out there?  If so, who are you rooting for?

Hope you all got outside this weekend, Summer Solstice for us means the daylight will be lessening.

Happy Hiking – Biking – and World Cup to you all!

Thanks for visiting!

 

 

 

 

Still Love the Flat Lands

I truly believe that where you live for the first 18 years of your life, shapes you as a person.  You can live somewhere else the rest of your life, but when you go back to the beginning, it is still “home.”  We just spent a week in the Midwest – my “home” for the first part of my life.

Now that I have finally embraced the mountains, people don’t understand why I still see the appeal of the flat country.  Here’s one reason.

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The clouds, the sunset, the stretch of road that goes on forever, those things represent home to me.

We had a fantastic trip visiting family and friends and enjoying the beauty along the way.

Whether it was the skyline view of Cincinnati from our balcony. . .

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a field of corn. . .

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or my brother/sister-in-law’s flowers . . .

 

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we enjoyed the environment very much.

A Midwest trip would not be complete without a “sleep over” with my buds.

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These ladies have been in my life for ages, and when we get together, it is pure joy!

The heat, humidity, and lack of mountains will keep me from moving back, but I’m grateful for my Midwest upbringing, which started right here.

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Do you feel that your life was shaped by your roots?

Sunday, Funday

Most of our Sundays are spent exploring.  We love finding back roads and getting lost.  Often times we are on a mission to find trail heads, or maybe just looking for interesting roadside attractions, like this one that we found this morning.

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Today, we were looking for an AT (Appalachian Trail) entrance for a hike to Kelly’s Knob.  We also came prepared to hike said trail, having read that it was an easy 4 mile out and back with just 500 ft. elevation gain.  What they failed to mention, was that that 500 ft. gain happens all at once!

Up, and up, and up, we went, until it finally leveled off and gave us some relief.  We met a lot of AT hikers, it’s about that time that through hikers are reaching Virginia.  After about an hour we reached our destination.

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The view was mostly blocked by the trees, but we got a glimpse of the ridges beyond.

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And a solid place for a rest and a snack.

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I was intrigued by this tree, it had a haunted quality to it.

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And the flowers were quite special.

Good hike, no snakes, perfect weather, and I feel great!  Dare I say (i’m back)?  Don’t want to jinx it.

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How do you spend your Sundays?

Completing the Triple Crown

No, this isn’t about horse racing.  If you have hiked the Appalachian Trail, or live in Southwest Virginia, you know that the Triple Crown refers to  3 popular hikes on the AT.  McAfee’s Knob – by far the most popular and most photographed spot on the AT – it even appeared in the movie “A Walk in the Woods.”  The second one is Dragon’s Tooth, the tough hike that I finally completed earlier in the Spring.  Finally, the lesser talked about, but gaining in popularity is Tinker Cliffs.

I’m proud to say, that as of yesterday, JG and I have completed all three!

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It was a beautiful day for hiking, and we got an early start with some good friends.

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But thanks to all the rain Mother Nature has dumped on us lately, it was probably one of the muddiest hikes I’ve ever been on.

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We took the Andy Layne Trail which takes you through private land, with cows and bridges and snakes!

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This little guy was sunbathing at the end of the first bridge, while I called for backup.  He eventually slithered away from the steps so we could move on.

The cliffs are spread out over about a half a mile, so there’s room for everyone to find their special nook to enjoy the incredible view.

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That’s me, living the good life.

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The rock formations were also photo worthy. . .

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As was the mountain laurel,

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and other interesting things along the way, like this tree – what??

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After returning home, our friends fixed dinner for us!  How wonderful, especially since they were just as tired as we were.  Thanks Fred and Cindy – look forward to hiking with you again.

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After 8 miles, I thought I would feel worse than I do today.  Physical Therapy is where it’s at my friends.  Have a lovely weekend!

 

Mother’s Day Hiking

Looks like all that physical therapy paid off, as I was able to get out and hike with my daughter today, along with many other moms.  We had a fun filled weekend, starting with her coming up Friday afternoon, taking a road trip to visit friends on Saturday, and exploring a new trail today.

After spending the night in Fredericksburg, we headed out early onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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Stopping at a couple of overlooks.

Our hike of choice today was Crabtree Falls.  It is billed as the highest set of waterfalls east of the Mississippi.  We started at the bottom and followed the falls through many stairs and switchbacks.

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We could hear the rushing water throughout the hike, and there were many lookout spots to enjoy, and take selfies.

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It’s only 1.7 miles to the top, but there is a 1500 ft. elevation gain, so it is steep and challenging.  Not having hiked in 3 weeks, I huffed and puffed before we made it to the top.  Once there, we found a place in the shade and enjoyed a snack.  We waited patiently as a family were taking over the best viewing area.  Being Mother’s Day, there were quite a few hikers out (glad we got an early start), but these folks seemed oblivious to all the people waiting to take photos, like Lori and me.

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I finally just went down there and started taking some pictures.

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The view is of the Tye River Valley.

They finally left and we were able to grab a quick selfie before giving it over to the many others who had also been waiting.

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Rather than going straight down, we were encouraged to take the trail another mile to see a crab tree orchard.  Thinking this would be the namesake of the falls, we decided to go.  What we found was another parking lot/entrance, a road that went to the Appalachian Trail, and nothing else of interest.  So we added 2 miles, which was fine.

It felt so good to be out on the trail again after a 3 week sit out.  It ended up being a 6 mile trip, every thing in my body aches right now, but I don’t care.  It was the best Mother’s Day present ever!

Thanks Lori!