Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Headed south - beautiful blue ridge mountains

The Blue Ridge mountains may be the most breath taking place we've been yet on our American adventure (grated we've only been here 3 weeks). We followed the twisting turning Blue ridge parkway all through the mountains, our first night we got turned around due to a somewhat understandable navigation error on my part , it worked Calhoun found some perfect ripe mountain strawberries at an earlier look off stop and when we eventually gave up and stopped for the night it was at a cozy rest stop with two trails leading off of it the first was short and mostly paved leading to a fabulous vista where we sat for a time taking in the awe inspiring view, the other we explored after super was a small hiking loop through the forest. We slept heavy despite a strangely large amount of people who would turn into the parking area and turn right back around , making us wonder what was wrong with our spot but also thankful for the privacy.
Calhoun foraging for mountain berries 
Next morning Calhoun fried up a mess of pancakes using our newly acquired mountain berries which turned them a pale pink color and were lovely with the Virginia honey we had picked up on our way our of town.
A mighty haul
After breakfast and with our new orientation we made for Linville falls a popular system of trails in the area with good reason, we spent half the day hiking in the falls area . Girlie frolicking merrily through the surrounding bushes and stopping to receive compliments from every passer by, we hiked every trail in the system starting with highest and ending up at the base of the falls , unfortunately they don't allow you to swim but the views and the way you reach them is totally worth it.
Linville falls
After the falls we made trails for Mount Mitchel the highest mountain east of the Mississippi elevation 6684 FT and of course I want to see it's summit the hard way. When reach the start of the trail head to Mount Mitchel's summit you become very aware of how high you already are just on the parkway , the wind whips around you ice cold despite the hot North Carolina weather below you, as you hike the trail gets progressively more wild as you pass through the clouds on your way to the summit. it is not for the faint of heart. Girlie scared us both at one point having run down such a steep embankment that she had to scramble almost vertical on the mountain side to get back on to the trail, she of course will tell you a different story.
It having been afternoon when we started and carrying almost no supplies we began to think we may have underestimated the mountain as we started to rapidly lose day light and the storm clouds moved ever closer. Luckily for us though the trail began getting steeper and steeper and the trees smaller and thinner a sure sign we were near the summit , of course we then had to get back down but for the time being we were going to concentrate on the top, I was not going back down disappointed we'd come too far already to turn back . As you might have guessed we made it there.
The summit
As fate would have turning to head back down we had to pass the parking lot (yes you can drive to the top) , there was one lone pick up truck beside it stood two friendly kids our age who were on a day trip from the near by town of Ashville they were happy to give us a lift back down the mountain so we hopped in the bed of the truck and road back down the mighty beast in style.
Riddin in style!
That night the fog rolled in in like huge pillow over the whole mountain range even with the brights on we couldn't see more than a couple of feet past the Hardwoo's nose and as if that weren't enough we were in a watershed area , our eyes were peeled for the next turn off anywhere we could stop after 20 minutes or so of terrifying mountain driving in the thickest tog you've ever seen we spotted a turn off for Craggy gardens picnic area thank God  the road to the picnic area  however was even winder and thinner than the parkway and long so long we thought we'd somehow missed the turn which in fairness wouldn't have been hard. Finally we reached it we were so high it was still freezing ,seriously I was wearing my fargo hat boots and winter jacket and though The Craggy Gardens is apparently a beautiful place in better weather amongst the impenetrable fog and the howls of coyotes it was less than inviting we all three cowered down in the Hardwoo after quickly consuming some much needed dinner .
1Next morning the fog had lifted a little and the sun pushed it back further still as we ate our breakfast drank our tea and headed back down the now cute mountain road towards Ashville.    

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