A Californian's Trip to North Carolina

7-15 Oct 2000 - by Steve Eckert

We spent a few days in Atlanta first - it was COLD there, so we borrowed some warm clothes and headed off for our rental cottage on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Lots of overlooks, but the wind had knocked down some of the leaves. Fortunately we got there a couple days AFTER THE SNOW STORM.

Ice sheets along the Blue Ridge Parkway: (just after early fall storm)

Our first house we rented was rustic (read: owner is a single man who isn't very domestic) but had a spectacular view. Its location was good so that we could get to a lot of different things near the Blue Ridge Parkway. The roads are narrow and very windy and most people drive very slowly so that it takes a lot longer to get anywhere. However, given how lovely the views are, this isn't all bad.

Many tunnels are on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a WPA project:

We ate tons, hiked some (hmmmm....need to work more on that balancing act --- the pants are feeling a bit tight), relaxed at night and in the a.m. (except for the 6 am sunrise-viewing and frosty waterfall hike morning), and took lots of pics. It was generally warmer than Atlanta, but one waterfall hike just after dawn featured frost on the grass.

Steve hangs out at the highest point east of the Mississippi:

(6684-ft Mt Mitchell really NEEDS a 40' tower to see over the trees)

Rebecca climbs a scary 'flake' of rock on Mt Mitchell:

(OK, you caught me - this pic is rotated 90 degrees, and she's REALLY kneeling)

We summitted Mt Mitchell (high point east of the Mississippi, picture above) but had much more fun on Grandfather Mtn (the "trail" goes up rock so steep they tie big ladders to the face with steel cables).

Grandfather is not my normal high altitude peak climb, but a surprisingly interesting bump in a carpet of trees. (Climber's note: Running the ridge WITHOUT the ladders would mean class 4 climbing or big detours or both, and MacRae Peak might be overhanging on all sides.) It's only 6821 miles to Tokyo from here, according to the helpful map they include with your $10/head entry fee.

Looking northeast at Grandfather Mtn (blue ridge parkway):

Looking northwest from near the swinging bridge on Grandfather Mtn:

Meeting the Streeters near Cashiers NC for the 2nd wkend was perfect: they got a chance to vacation and we got a chance to spend more time w/ them. This 2nd house was great: 2-story cottage, cozy, comfortable and filled w/ everything you needed. The owners even left us a bag of homemade oatmeal/choc. chip cookies! We continued to eating and hiking process -- the girls did a great job w/ both! We were both impressed w/ how well the girls did scrambling up and down some of the rocky stuff we had to cross. Clearly they've gotten really strong from all the swimming they've been doing. And, I think they both found it very exciting to be out w/ Mountain Man Steve! We all scrambled up a local peak and went to see the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies... which wasn't HALF as much fun as splashing around in the stream ABOVE the falls.

Rebecca poses under 'Dry' Falls:

The entire gang at Ladybugs Cottage near Cashiers:

View of the High Hamptons club from Chimney Rock:

The entire family on Streeter Island:

Keith's flashy exit from Streeter Island:

(could it be that he walks on water?)

To cap it off, we got $1000 in Delta ticket vouchers for coming home 5 hours after our original flight was scheduled. We're now accepting suggestions for where our NEXT vacation should be! Can you get to Belize and back on a long weekend?

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