Cumberland Falls, Cumberland Falls State Park, Honeybee/Corbin, Kentucky


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Thursday, July 7, 2022

Biggie's Big Appalachian Vacation, Day #3 - - Grandfather Mountain State Park/Linville/Banner Elk, North Carolina


 (*Edited, content and video added.  Also added pics to the previous post)









So .... with Mark's knee somewhat better, we decided it was a good day for Grandfather Mountain, being that they have short little trails and an elevator to the swinging mile-high bridge.


Brookie and I were ready before Mark even had his morning coffee, so excited ...









I had my new purple and gray hiking boots for the occasion ... which did beautifully, by the way - waterproof, gripping tread, support in the right places, but still comfortable  ... 







Unfortunately, though 62 degrees in the morning, it was predicted to be 83 by noon, even at the mountain (and didn't disappoint) - and Mark decided it was much too hot for the still-recuperating-from-surgery and post-surgery ulcer, Brookie :(

The temperature year round typically never gets hotter than 74 degrees here, and at GM, 72, but this unusually hot summer in America, it rose above that ... 

After some coffee and biscuits with local honey (pic in the previous post), we were off ... 






Biggie decided he was feeling very patriotic, with the upcoming 4th of July - despite the YouTube paparazzi always hounding him, the crazies always hunting for him, and his claim that he was here before "all y'all" - he decided to be grateful to still live rent-free in this beautiful country today :)







Just an FYI, if you go - you must purchase your tickets onine and reserve an entrance time before you go.  It's $24 for adults, $22 with AARP, and $12 for children.  It's a state park so state funded, but you're paying for the upkeep of the swinging bridge and care of the animals at the nature center. 

After the park entrance, it's about another two miles to this lookout, giving you the elevation of Grandfather Mountain, which is 5,946 feet ... 







And of course, Biggie insisted the first pic here was to be of him, as our tour guide ... 








And a very nice couple offered to take our pic, too, and we did the same for them ....

















Then just another 2 miles to the nature center ... 













Cute little gift shop with quality souvenirs at more reasonable prices than elsewhere, where I purchased some Christmas ornaments, which I do every place I travel ... 






Where just outside of 's Cafe (named for their resident black bear), you can see ruby-throated hummingbirds any time of day.

Super hard to get a still shot of them, this is the best I could do ... 






But I did manage to get a few videos - the best videos are the last two, of the young male, when he finally showed up, especially the last/4th video...

... but the first two videos, of the female, let you hear the sound they make :) 












And then a young male, not quite with a full ruby throat yet, but still a brilliant green coat of feathers ... 








*Best video of the ruby-throated hummingbird (young male)  ..







Next stop is the rehab center just down the path, where you can see bald eagles, cougars, elk, river otter, and of course, Mildred the black bear if she's out.

Grandfather Mountain rescues and rehabilitates wild animals and releases them back into the wild if they can, but some - like Mildred - cannot be released due to health reasons or inability to rehabilitate or adapt and live on their own in the wild.












American Bald Eagles 


The last time I was here, Mildred wasn't around. but this time I got to see her!!!  The first time I've ever seen a black bear here - not exactly in the wild, but still ... 


Mildred, the resident black bear ... 

Note:  The people talking loudest on the video are not Mark and me -  it was a son and his mom, standing close to us - apparently, she saw a black bear at her cabin.






I even managed to get a video of her - she comes closer at 1:15 ...









Just a little shot of her habitat, super nice :) 








The otters were and cougars were not to be seen, that day, was pretty hot for the mountain (usually stays around 74 degrees all year, but today it was 83) - but the North American Elk were out in full velvet :) 




















For those unaware, "velvet" means their antlers are covered with "velvet" soft fur, which they will scrape off shortly to sharpen their antlers. 

Then it was time to brave the mile-high swinging bridge - and I say "brave" because I'm afraid of heights, but was determined to do this anyway!







I know those of you who have read prior posts must be saying, "How did you rock climb with a fear of heights?"  

Because first of all, I had a harness on, but most importantly, I never looked down, only up lol - there's a reason why I only climbed, never repelled lol.  It's about the climb - it's like a puzzle to solve. 






Biggie accompanied us, safely in Mark's hoodie, to make me laugh along the way - and also entertained passers by, especially children got a big kick out of him :)







Deep breath, so here we go .... crossing the mile-high bridge with Mark and Biggie ... 


FYI, my husband, Mark, who is from Detroit, said he had no idea what that guy in the red MAGA hat was saying to us, even after watching the video, only what I said lol.  

So for those who don't speak/understand the Appalachian dialect (Eastern Kentucky/Tennessee, Western North Carolina), allow me to translate and interpret the ways of my people, since my Dad and family were from Harlan lol ...


Man:  "That's a nice bear, Bub." 

 

Mark: "What's that?"
 
Man:  "That's a nice bear, you got there."

(It sounds like "Atsanice buhr yew got thar." )

Me: "It's Bigfoot! lol." 

 

Mark: (partially figuring it out from what I said lol): "You like that, right?" 

 

Man: "Yeah!" 

 

Me: "Haha, it's Bigfoot, so we can tell everybody we saw Bigfoot here lol."   

 

Man  "That'll work lol."

 









Until safely on the other side .... 






I did it!  

And it was sooooooo worth it - DO IT!
























Well, except there was that time Biggie almost rolled off the mountain - whups!  








How DARE White T-shirt Man photo-bomb Biggie's close-up?!? ;)
























Okay, finally, alone in his natural habitat - for about 30 seconds? 













So I'm trying to get a panoramic view, when all of the sudden, THIS happens ...








Biggie, you scared me! ;)



\



The bridge isn't at the top of GM, of course, but near the top to an adjacent mountain - but you can hike to the bald peak if so inclined (Mark's knee was not quite ready for that yet). 













And now, deep breath again, the trip back - with tons more people on it, it swung and creaked - so badly that a frightened dog crossing relieved himself mid-bridge, poor thing (and I nearly did too!) lol

Also, the clouds started rolling by quickly at the peak, you'll notice, on video, super cool  ... 






Back in the observation tower, there's another little gift shop and FYI, there's an elevator to get to the bridge for people with bad knees (like Mark, still rehabbing it).   









And off to the side, next to the bridge, I took what I think are the best pictures taken the whole trip ... 


































Some views from the road back down to the nature center ... 




















Just for reference, look at the slant on that road ... 






Including "Forrest Gump Curve," named for a shot taken here during Forrest Gump's (Tom Hanks) run across the country in the movie, Forrest Gump :) 


























We had a little bit of time before our reservation for the park, so we decided to take a little drive around Linville and adjacent Banner Elk.   This is ski country, where Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain Ski Resorts are found (though we didn't drive up to them, this summer) ...  












Coming into Banner Elk, which isn't really a town, but more like an intersection lol ... 















Driving in, we saw the oddest thing - so these kids were standing on top of buses, and at first, we thought they were dancing badly lol - but it turns out they were rocking the buses to get the riders pumped for their base-jumping or whitewater rafting trip, as well as PR for their little establishment. 

Yeah, erm - would you go base-jumping with these guys?  Look at the bus-driver's face at the end LOL!















Yeah, no -  we won't be doing any of those things, especially with those guys. 

After which, we found a little former millpond with it's house still lived in (without the mill wheel) ... 




















And a little waterfall and trail beside it ... 






Biggie decided it was a good place for a morning nap ... 








And I decided this rock was a good place, especially considering my accidentally-short haircut,  for my "Dora the Explorer"  pose lol ... 




For reference, here is the "real" Dora the Explorer ..."





Ready for a bigger hike the next day ?!?  :)






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