Our mountain adventure

Well Michael and I decided to go deeper into the country for a weekend away in celebration of our actual one year anniversary. (Michael does not want to celebrate them both).  We went to the mountains in North Carolina, which we have been to before but never in the summer. It goes without saying that I was not prepared for the bugs.   Those of you who have had the misfortune to be with me when I encounter a bee know what I mean.  There were some funky bugs up there.  The first day as we started to unpack the car into the cabin I realized this might not be a good idea.  However, we were already there so let's make the most of it, right.  However, how could I not think of the bugs?!  I shock myself sometimes...

The first mission was to go to Mount Mitchell, which is the highest point east of the Mississippi at 6684 feet.  We had tried to go there once before but it was November and the roads were closed due to weather. Michael found a "short" hike for us to do, so we were set.  We got to the point from where we were to hike 2 miles up to the summit, and then back down.  I wish I had the foresight to take a picture of that trail, but the truth is I was overwhelmed by the harshness of the trail.  Michael said it would me "moderate", but OMG!  To start with it was maybe one foot wide, and although we were on top of a very high mountain it felt claustrophobic.  The tree limbs, the rocks and oh my god the bugs!  It was terrible.  Still, I tried to do it, I really did.  I did not want to disappoint the hubby who was looking forward to this hike to the top of the highest peak of the Blue Ridge Mountains... but I had to turn back.  I believe I lasted about 6 minutes before I said "I'm sorry, I can't".  Again, I wish I had taken a picture but I was just out of it.

So we turned back and got into the car and drove up to the summit like wusses do.  I'm sorry, but it was just bad.  I told him he can call on one of his friends to go up the 700 foot incline with him in the future.  Anyway, the view from the summit tower was cool.  We did a shorter hike around the top which I believe was less than a mile.  Lots of bugs, but quite pretty. I apologize to those of you who are my facebook friends and already saw these pictures.
 


Anywho, the next day we went chasing waterfalls.  We were staying outside of Brevard, which is Transylvania County NC, also known as "The land of Waterfalls".  They claim there are almost 500 of them in just this county.  I saw three, but then again I didn't have the time or the energy to go down every trail.

Rainbow Falls is a 1.5 mile hike from the parking lot in Gorges State Park.  So it is a total of 3 miles round trip, it is moderate to strenuous.  When we started it seemed harmless enough.  Just a downhill incline 

that could at times be steep. 
But it turns out that about 1/3 of the hike is within the limits of the state park and therefore it is well maintained with benches along the way, a very wide gravel road (at least 3 feet wide) and basically a steeper than average nature walk.  Later on you are outside of the park and it gets more challenging.  All in all it was a good hike, challenging at times but not overwhelmingly so.  It could be scary, dark, slippery when wet, but if I can do it so can most people.
The falls were worth the hike though.  Rainbow Falls is about a 150 foot drop and impressive.  

That's me, out of breath with Michael who has not broken a sweat.

Further up, 1/3 of a mile up (and I mean UP) is Turtleback Falls.  They are really part of the same river flow of the Horsepasture river but slightly separate.  There is a flat area between them where when the water is low you can get on rocks and boulders that would be in the river if the water was higher.

This is the picture from the top that Michael took from these rocks.  I, of course stayed further in because I fall and hurt myself on flat land so there is no need to tempt fate.


This picture was taken further up from that same spot.  You can see all the rocks and the Turtleback falls behind Michael.  That woman standing behind him in the yellow shirt was at least 5 months pregnant, and she was standing on those rocks without a care in the world.



The next day we found out that a woman died there just a few days before we were there.  Yeah.  I am so glad I did not know this before we went or there is no way I let Michael go down the falls.  Read about it here: 

We went up to this big rock that overlooks Turtleback Falls to  watch all the idiots sliding down.  There were two couples from Atlanta up there arguing about whether or not they would do it.  The men decided they had to.  Michael decided he would too.  I stayed with Jane and Linda, lovely women.  We laughed and took pictures and said prayers under our breathes.  Not knowing of course about the 4 people killed in the last 15 years at these falls.




You pull yourself up with a rope over the rocks that are to the left of the river.  Then you carefully walk over to the river which is a lot stronger that it appears.




Apparently you chat with your new friends about where the rougher spots to avoid are, and wait your turn.



Then you slide down:





In all fairness, there is a bunch of rocks that should prevent you from continuing down to the other section of waterfalls, so sliding down from Turtleback all the way to Rainbow Falls is unlikely (I think).  Michael says the current is strong, and the water is deep- he never touched ground.

Now my legs hurt a bit already.  Two miles in I could really feel it.  Keep in mind I tried to do something strenuous the day before, even if only 6 minutes of it, and I did hike some.  That morning my left calf was sore, but not too terrible.  If you keep up with the Country Rican, you might remember the hike down to the suspension bridge in Tallulah Falls last Fall.  That was the time I puked? Yeah, I sprained calf muscle badly that time.  Even got prescription meds for it from the doctor.  Anyway, I now appear to have a recurring hiking injury, because it was bad after this 3+ mile hike.  I always wanted to know what "sports injuries" were like!

It was slow on the way back up because I was hurting.  Michael was hurting too, saying he broke a toe in the river.  Of course I thought he was exaggerating because he was going way faster than I was.

When we got back to the cabin and he took off his shoes I saw he was not kidding:

Yes, that is dried up blood.  Apparently trying to get up the damn rock in the river he gashed his foot with a sharp rock.  It was bad, but not broken.  We think it was fractured somewhat.  Some of you may know my super hero husband has two black belts, and so he has broken toes before and now says it was not broken.  Still, it turned purple. Dude!
We made a pit stop on our way back to the cabin to see Whitewater Falls, which are supposed to be the largest this side of the Mississippi.  We were told you could see them from the road, so we went for it.  Of course, there was another mile round trip to the over look, which had a stairway with the following warning:


 We did it anyway because, well it is an over 400 foot waterfall, come on! The sign say 15 people have died here, but I think it's more.


We had a lovely dinner in downtown Brevard that night.  A great meal in a quaint little place and headed back to the cabin.  We were leaving the next day, but not before Michael "explored" the subdivision we stayed in. Sigh!

Mountain Song is the name of the Cabin we stayed at.  http://www.mountainsong.org/3.html It is located on Round Mountain, a little subdivision where almost everyone has a breathtaking mountain view.  You see all these little roads off the beaten path, but you can't see many of the houses because it is so lush and mountainous.  This was the view from our cabin's deck:



Michael wanted to explore the area before we left it.  It is all gravel roads and we are in a small two wheel drive Chevy that I call The Silver Bullet.  Michael has been driving on these roads for three or four days now so he is getting cocky.  I'm telling him to slow down, be careful, etc. but he does not listen.  He goes down one street and I tell him not to, it looks like  a private entrance, let's just go back.  But no, he keeps going.  He dead ends and starts trying to turn around.  Me? I'm focusing on the fence because I can't look.  It is narrow and steep and scary.  He decides to back into a driveway because there is no room to turn around.  The driveway is of house that looks like it has not been finished.  Yes, my friends, this is the stuff horror movies are made of.

Down below he can see a lake and is excited.  I tell him "Can we please just go!".  I am upset.  I'm about to get more upset.

We get stuck.  Yes, stuck.  The wheels are turning but we ain't moving!  In our little silver bullet facing upward on an incline in the driveway of a half completed cabin in the middle of deserted mountain community in North Carolina. Did I mention it's June 13th and it is our one year anniversary?  I hear banjo music...

I get out of the car and come to the conclusion we are here to stay.  He gets out of the car and is just laughing.  I have tears in my eyes. God bless us because we have this uncanny ability that when one of us is very upset, the other one is as cool as can be.  Michael is cheerful.  "Oh honey it's all part of our adventure!" he says.  "Let's just go up the hill and knock on those people's door, they have a truck, maybe they can help."

We do.  The lady is in her 50s and looks terrified, like we are there to scope the place for a robbery.  Of course I look mad so that probably didn't help.  But Michael has a nice face, and a sweet demeanor and his big doe eyes so how can she say no? Her husband comes out.  A big man in his early 60s who is boisterous and happy.  We later find out he is a retired lawyer and they live in Boca Grande Florida where she still teaches grade school.  Really nice people. Michael of course is proud that we made new friends.

Guy and Michael went down to the other house to try and get the car out.  It turns out it is their cabin, they are building it to rent out.  We are not the first people to get stuck there they say, but we are the first trespassers to.  I feel terrible because we are intruding on these nice people's Sunday morning.  We had to call a wrecker.  They offered us sweet tea and let us wait in their vacation home.  They were the ones who told us about the deaths at Rainbow Falls.  And, they had been to Puerto Rico several times, knew a lot about it.  They were very kind and we all were much calmer on our way out than when we first knocked on their door.  I need to send them a thank you card and some kind of token of appreciation.

Michael was just the sweet young man he always is, and even though Guy is a Florida Gator and Michael was wearing his Georgia hat they forgave us for disrupting their quiet country Sunday.  Their house was amazing by the way, and so was their dog Smoky, a nine year old schnauzer that looked like this:
This isn't him, I copied this from the internet.  I wish I had the presence of mind to take a picture of him.  

I did however take a picture of the view of the lake from their porch.




Happy Anniversary to me and Michael.  He is a pain in the ass but he's my pain in the ass and I love him!

Comments

  1. Lisa, I just love reading your accounts of everyday things that turn into adventures. I also love how you seem to make friends with everyone you meet. That is truly a gift. Thanks for sharing and happy anniversary!

    Valerie

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  2. I agree, you have a real talent for writing...and the pictures are terrific!
    Laura

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  3. Beautiful Anniversary Trip! Thanks for sharing and the meeting of new friends while trespassing will be an event you will always remember on your first wedding anniversary. I'm glad you enjoyed it after all and made him home safely! Happy Anniversary!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks ladies! I miss all three of you!

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  5. Sounds like a great trip:) I love that Michael takes you out into the woods to go hiking. Your tendency to fall gets better with every time you hike and have to practice balancing and what not - I'm sure of it! Thanks for sharing the details as always, abrazo, Pagina

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