Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Home again from vacation. Today was our first day back (and at work). After work, went for a run (it's MUCH hotter here than in the mountains), then grabbed a shower and after dinner sat down to relax with a bit of TV.
Here I am relaxing in my easy chair, wearing my new (size medium, yay!) Hello Kitty PJ's and covered by 3 cats who evidently missed their mom when she was on vacation!
It's good to be home and better to be missed...
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Yesterday we planned a full day….a hike at Linville Falls (a long time favorite of ours), some fishing, and a run. We started out to the Parkway and the falls with a low cloud cover and fog….but you never know as a few miles (or minutes) later, it can all be different!
When we arrived at the entrance to the Linville Falls visitor center and trailhead, the weather had cleared up to a beautiful day, and we found that the government shut down would affect our plans more than we expected.
It’s 1.4 miles from the entrance off the Parkway to the Falls trailhead and parking lot.
So, we’ll just add 3 miles or so to our planned hike. Off we go…
Here’s a view of the Linville River in fall colors on the way in.
And in a little while, we arrive at the parking lot, which was deserted except for people walking in. It wasn't nearly as crowded as it normally would be on a beautiful day in fall, and many people looked pretty tired as they were walking back out to the cars.
Next, we started up the trail to the falls.
The trail starts out as a nice relatively smooth trail and not much climb to the upper falls overlook, after which most of the people turn back, but not us! Here's a look at the upper falls:
From the upper falls, the water goes down through a channel before it makes the lower falls.
After the upper falls overlook, the trail climbs quite a bit (about 200 feet) to a higher overlook where you can see the lower falls and both upper falls at once.
From the highest trail point, the view is magnificent, overlooking both the falls and the river as it goes through the gorge.
After hiking back down the trail, and the walk back down the road to the truck, we then headed down to the river for some fishing.
The river has its own beauty, but we didn’t have any luck fishing. We did see a hawk dive and catch a trout though, right in front of us!
We only had an hour to fish since our hike was longer than planned, and then it was time to head home to change for our run. Total distance of the hike & fishing was 6 miles. The run and cool down walk was another 5 miles, for 11+ miles total, over 100 flights of stairs and 30,000 steps – another new Fitbit badge! Here's the map and summary of the hike:
That wrapped up another fun and active day in the mountains. Maybe today, I’ll catch some fish!
Monday, October 14, 2013
Yesterday was another NSV that I want to share....we decided to take a hike to a waterfall from the Blue Ridge Parkway that we had attempted before and not been able to do. We were at the same place two years ago in fall and wanted to see the waterfall, but I was afraid I would not be able to get back. It's a short hike to the waterfall (less than 1 mile) but all down hill...and at that time, I was very overweight and totally out of shape so after driving up there, and talking to the ranger about the trail, we left without going to see the waterfall. I just didn't think I could make it...sad really, but true.
So, fast forward to two years later, and 10 months into my latest Spark journey....we drove up there, (no ranger this time cause of the government shutdown fiasco), looked at the weather (threatening rain), and took off down the trail. It did rain in fact, for most of the way down and the trail was quite muddy and slippery where it was rocky, but we had sticks, hats (and I had an umbrella), so on we went, passing a lot of huffing and wet people on their way back up.
After about 50 minutes, we got to the waterfall and the rain stopped.
It is a beautiful waterfall (about 70 feet) and we found a rock to sit on to eat our lunch that we packed. No sun shine, but still very nice to sit there and look at nature's beauty.
To leave, we took the longer loop trail out instead of returning the way we came down, and it was a beautiful 2 mile trail along the stream and through the woods.
We saw lots of squirrels, but no people (they were all on the shorter trail I guess).
Here's the trail and elevation change (from my Garmin watch...isn't this too cool?)
So, after two years, we finally got to see Crabtree Falls! And it was a really nice hike despite the rain and mud.
Here's a look at some fall color on the drive home on the Parkway:
Once again I was so grateful to be in such better health that hikes like this are once again easily done and enjoyed. Yay for healthy living!
Friday, October 11, 2013
Yesterday we wanted to do a longer hike, so went up on the Roan to hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT). We started at Carver’s Gap at the North Carolina / Tennessee line (5,512' elevation) and headed north toward the Balds. (On this mountain, there are open grassy spaces at the tops of many of the ridges, which are called Balds). The valley below on the NC side was just starting to show fall colors, and was just beautiful with the sun shining on it.
Unfortunately, clouds rolled in just as we were parking and getting ready to start our hike. The wind up on the balds is always more than you expect as there is nothing to block it, so it can be a lot colder up there than in the parking lot, so without sun, we considered aborting our planned hike and coming back another day, but in the end decided to go. We’ve been up this trail some before, although not as far as we planned to go this time. Two years ago, we hiked up to the first bald (Round Bald), and stopped and had lunch on some big rocks up there where there is a nice view. That was all the hiking / climbing we were up for on that day, since we both weighed 60+ pounds more each and were not in the habit of exercising. I remember being really tired and out of breath when we got to the “lunch rock”. Here I am standing on the "lunch rock" and in the lower right the cars in the parking lot below where we pick up the AT.
On this day, however, we just stopped and took a picture and laughed at how we could go no further two years ago. The “lunch rock” is about ½ mile from the parking lot, although the trail has a fair bit of elevation gain on the way, as you can see. Anyway, on we went after having our chuckle about our old “lunch rock”. We still had several miles to cover before our planned lunch break on this day. We had planned to get to the top of Round Bald (5,826'), continue down and up to Jane Bald (5,807'), and then up to Grassy Bald, and then to hike another couple of miles on the AT, depending on the weather.
Here is a shot of us between Round and Jane Balds, and the highest one you can see in the background is Grassy Bald where we planned our lunch stop.
You can see how the clouds were lowering and in the open areas, it was pretty windy. Some rare sunny breaks allowed a view of the Roan Valley.
To get to Grassy Bald, you have to leave the AT and climb up a different trail. The AT continues north from that point but along the sides of it, rather than up and over the top. The trail up goes through some Rhododendron (not blooming now of course).
Then finally reaches the top of the bald, which is capped by another big rock. There is a memorial plaque to a local man who loved the mountain.
And of course, there is the inevitable USDA Cadastral Survey marker in the rock at the top.
Why is there always a rock at the top, even on the balds? And why does this one not show the elevation? I looked it up though from the number, and it is at 6,160'.
We had a nice lunch there at the top of Grassy Bald, watching the clouds rolling in and out and getting peeks at the valleys on both the NC side and the TN side. At times we were in the clouds, (which were damp and quite cold), but at least when you’re in the clouds, the wind stops. Since the clouds were lowering so much, and so damp it seemed it might rain, we decided to not go further on the AT, and once we climbed down from Grassy Bald, we just returned by the AT.
The hike was a round trip total of about 5 miles (according to my Garmin at least) and we climbed a total of about 1300 feet, (according to my Fitbit). After we got home, we did some other walking to finish out the planned distance of 10 miles for the day, and also to get the additional 20 flights of stairs (200 feet of climb) to get my newest 150 flights badge, so all in all, quite a nice day with some good exercise.
It was such a treat to know that the only reason we decided not to go further on the AT was weather, and not being out of breath or having legs too tired! Thank you Spark People for helping me to get my life back and to be able to do the things I want to do!!
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