Back to Asheville for our final time. We stopped at the Arboretum. They had a cool exhibit by an artist who spent some time around the Arctic Circle in Canada. Cory Trapanier.
We walked the grounds and visited the Bonsai exhibit. After viewing these in DC I bought some for a friend, but he killed them all in a matter of weeks.
Our final stop was to be the Biltmore Estate, but they were asking too much for entrance and I could not find a way to circumnavigate the gate on the sly. So instead, we closed out the day at the Florence Preserve
Amy stayed back the next day and I drove out to do 8 mile loop hike at Chestnut Knob. It was the same trailhead we visited when first arrive (South Mtn) for a waterfall hike.
It was a perfect day. I climbed up to a Ridgeline with steep drops on either side and followed the spine for a few miles before dropping back down
More trees down from Hurricane Zeta. Had a couple really nice conversations with people on horses and also a solo lady hiking. Reminded me of a book the Celestine Prophecies and how chance encounters are anything but coincidences. Reaffirmed my need to work with people, but not in the service industry and not with the very ill. I have done my time there. It will come to me in time. Will remember this hike fondly.
Our time is getting short here. It is getting colder and only a week left before moving on to Florida. We drove down into SC again to the Cowpens battlefield. It was presidential election day. No one to be found. A good walk to reflect on our current predicament in USA and what these people faced here in the Revolutionary War.
Another day and the election chaos is still going strong. Little did I know but this would continue for months. Actually that’s wrong, I knew full well it would be like this.
We went back up towards Linville Gorge for another hike. This time we did Shortoff Mtn. Great views from the top. We could even see Hawksbill and Table rock, hikes we did the previous week.
Stopped by Lake James on the way out of the park
Quick stop at Font Flora Brewery for pizza and beer at Whippoorwill Farm
This felt like an undiscovered area. Come back in 10 years and it will be popping with resorts and restaurants.
We were making up for lost time. Next day was a drive up to town of Black Mountain. It is a little artist spot outside of Asheville. We were in the Montreat Wilderness to hike Greybeard Mtn. 4.5 miles up and 4.5 miles back down.
It was Amy’s longest hike to date. She did amazing. Not the best views, but few people and that made up for it.
Rode the SC mountain bike trail one last time then took the dirtbike out for a final trip around the switchbacks of Green River Gamelands. Visiting all my old hang-outs.
17 Switchbacks in a row!
Ok, now for the big hike. I have been saving this one for the end of the trip. Slowly getting Amy ready. This was Grandfather mountain. Now I admit we did not hike all the way up the mountain, the full 14mile+ trip, but the challenge was nonetheless daunting. We paid $20 to drive up to the top (I know ridiculous) and would then hike between 2 peaks (Grandfather and Calloway)
The morning we booked our pass seemed clear weather-wise. It was a 2 hour drive just to get there. As we got closer the weather turned ugly. By the time we got to the gate at the base of the mountain there was no visibility, pouring rain, and cold. We were not going back, and we had no other day to do this. We drove up and were the only ones up at the top.
This was what I saw at the trailhead
It was like that scene in Vacation where they get to WallyWorld and it is closed. Amy was very nervous already and with the weather and the sign she was ready to pack it in. I told her that the people in the gift shop told me to just ignore the ‘Trail Closed” sign. It didn’t help that when I was telling her this, a park ranger hopped over the sign checked something out, then hopped back without removing it. I waited until that ranger drove off the top parking lot and urged Amy on.
The hard part of this trail was the ladders you had to climb, but the wind and weather would not help.
At one point we climbed through a section called the “Attic Window” It was so step and rough that I did not think it was the right trail. And on the way back through it I thought it was just a cliff edge, not the intended trail
We pressed on. We had to be back to the car by 4pm. We were fortunate not to have other people to slow us down, but we were still cutting it close to make it to Calloway with enough time to return. I was supposed to fill out a slip at trailhead to alert our presence but the slips were soaked and hard to get into the slot so I am not sure a search party would be summoned.
It finally started to clear a bit.
We made the trail end and now worked our way back. We did start seeing a few people on the trail now that the weather cleared. They must have removed the sign, but these people would not have enough time to get to the end and back today
We finally got a glimpse of the parking lot around 2pm. I think we did it in about 5 hours.
We walked across the suspension bridge for the weaker mortals
I got the below shot. One of my favorites with the tiny people in the upper left corner
Amy did fabulous. Better than I expected. She was rewarded with BBQ on the way home from some tiny little place that had pictures on the wall to commemorate Barack Obama’s visit during his first campaign run (Countryside BBQ in Marion).
Our last couple days were pretty quiet in NC. We did have some drama 2 days before we left when the Airbnb next to us on the same property had a couple who spent the night in a heated domestic argument. The guy left in the middle of the night, leaving the woman there. In the morning they must have made-up since both were gone. Probably a weekly thing for them. We did find few bullet shells by their house that were not there before according to the host.
We had lots of spectacular hiking in NC. Glad we stayed in such a pleasant cottage. If we come back this way I would like to be closer to Asheville, but I am still not sure I could find common ground with a lot of the locals even as we get farther from this election that seems to have divided the nation. Most our stays are rural, and we know see first-hand how those election maps are all red, with the cities lighting up blue. It’s a different world out here. A slower pace. I need to work on being ok with that slower pace or it will drive me to an early grave.
Until Next Time,