Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Day 5, Part 2 - The Blue Ridge Parkway/Mt. Mitchell

After leaving Linville Falls, we decided to take the Blue Ridge Parkway down towards Asheville rather than I-40 the whole way, because neither one of us had ever been on it - and I'm SO glad we did! Absolutely stunning views of the Blue-Ridge Mountains (which I'm told are even more stunning in the fall).  

It will take you an extra hour, but it's so worth it!

A few little tips, though -  though the Blue Ridge Parkway runs from Virginia to Georgia and there are several points to hop on, from Linville Falls on to just before Asheville (which we didn't have time to visit, this trip), there is no place to stop except Mt. Mitchell about midway - which means you're going about 60 miles on a mostly two-lane twisty road in the mountains, so take an all-wheel drive vehicle that hugs the road. Also, there is no cell service that entire stretch, so make sure that even with all-wheel drive, your car is in top shape - our new little Nissan Rogue Sport did great!

Also, there is no place to pull off the road on either side, except some very open overlooks - no rest areas.  Make sure to take snacks and  not to drink too much water along the way, because you're going a good hour with no stops but very public, open overlooks every 15 miles or so, with no bushes, and steep drops after the overlook, so no bathroom breaks - sorry!

You know, it's what highway travel was like 40 years ago, try to remember  - you can do it - and it's SO worth it!

Some pictures and video as we make the ascent to Mt. Mitchell ... 

One distinct, cool thing about this area is the Jack Pine, which grows at high elevations, but mostly in the Northeastern U.S. and Canadian mountain ranges ... 

Here's a quick, short panoramic of the Curtis Valley Overlook ...

Apparently, Detroit's own Alice Cooper came on the car radio, right at that moment, and you can hear my husband, Mark, get excited about that, thinking it was the perfect song.  

Hey, I dig Alice Cooper, too - I just wasn't sure Alice Cooper and the mountains were THE combo -  but if it makes my husband happy lol :)

Next stop, Mt. Mitchell ... 

For those unaware, at 6,684 ft., Mt. Mitchell is the highest point in the Eastern United States - higher than the often-talked-about Mt. Washington in New Hampshire (6,682 ft) on The Weather Channel as being one of the coldest points in Eastern America :)

The temperature dropped from an already moderate 74 degrees to about 60 degrees, here, not too bad -but the coolest thing about being here is watching the clouds roll past you at top speed. 

They're a little sparse at first, on this video, but wait a few seconds ... and look how fast they blow by! :)


Then on to Fontana Lake, coming up next  ...  :)

Monday, June 28, 2021

Day 5 - Grandfather Mountain/Linville Falls, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

Leaving the Cherokee National Forest area, our next destination was Grandfather Mountain State Park in the Pisgah National Forest  ...

...  then Linville Falls (one of several North Carolina mountain locations where the 1992 version of "Last of the Mohicans" was filmed.)


This is NOT the biggest waterfall, seen in last 20 minutes of the movie - that would be Hickory Falls at Chimney Rock, which we didn't visit - yet ...

During our entire trip there, it averaged a high of 74 degrees - perfect temperature - and the mid-to-upper 60s in the higher altitudes (so bring a jacket) - but also why we didn't swim or do water sports this time ;)

We started with Grandfather Mountain State Park, which we assumed was a lot further away from where we were already staying in Vilas/Boone than it was - had we realized it was closer, we would've gone sooner, rather than after checking out and traveling South, so that we'd have had more time there, because it was actually my favorite placed visited.

We did sort of a sweep of the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina, in sort of a backwards C, on the Eastern side of the Smoky/Blue Ridge Mountains,  from Vilas to Bryson City, to Fontana Village, then back home through Cherokee - in other words, it was sort of a general survey of the area, the quick sweeping tour, not leaving us much time to linger, explore, and read the history of each location.  However - we're hopefully going back soon to focus on certain areas - and one of those areas we want to explore more is Banner Elk near Grandfather Mountain and Linville  :)

Grandfather Mountain is one of the tallest peaks in North Carolina, and it is the highest peak in this area - at 5946 feet above sea level. 

Also, in addition to numerous trails, at the top, there is a nature museum and wildlife exhibit, which includes busy hummingbird feeders, river otters, elk, American bald eagles, mountain cougars, and Matilda the black bear (who didn't peek out for us today, so we saw 0 bears on this trip lol.)  

All the animals you see below were either previously injured or sick and thus cannot be released back into the wild.  Also, they're building an even larger exhibit, but it's not quite finished yet.

(Don't forget, our digital camera was accidentally dropped in the hot tub and went kaput - so we're left with cell pictures and a sad cheap little digital - but I might add more photos over the next few days as I come across them.)

Our journey, in chronological order, along the way to/along/atop Grandfather Mountain ...

Two little videos of two hummingbirds in flight ...


A little Christmas Tree farm on the way to nearby Linville Falls.  In fact, most Southeastern Christmas trees (Frazier Fir and Douglas Fir) come from the mountains of North Carolina ... 

Linville Falls/Pisgah National Forest short trail hike.  Pisgah Forest feels like a prehistoric forest. 

Brookie was a trooper, despite the fur coat!

And no worries after what happened in the last town - here, people from all walks of life LOVED her, and though still shy, she continued allowing herself to be petted for a second, when I coaxed her and was right next to her, and never once barked at anyone at any location she went to, I was so proud of her!

In fact, I bet she now thinks her name is "Lassie," because so many people said she looked like her and fussed over her lol.)

I happened to look up, at that moment, and noticed the leaves made a heart shape  :)

Mark in his boonie hat and me in what is now known as my park ranger/Smoky the Bear hat lol ...  

Linville Falls - Upper 

Linville Falls -  Lower Falls 

Linville Falls - Upper and Lower 

Videos of the waterfall's path ...

Upper Falls only (including one absolutely lovely older couple that we chatted with at several points along the way) ... 

She was TOO cute - her accent and her youthful, playful personality reminded me so much of my maternal grandmother ... :)

Upper and Lower Falls ... 

Next post of the Blue Ridge Parkway/Fontana Village/Cherokee  coming soon!

Brookie says, "Y'all come back now, ya hear?"  :)  LOL