Grandfather Mountain North Carolina Tuesday June 30, 2015
First of all thanks to Chris, who told me about the mountains in North Carolina, part of the The Appalachian Mountain chain, the largest mountains in USA outside the Rocky Mountains. And they were on my way from Kansas City to raleigh NC...
I had planned to do biking, hiking and running in the mountains of North Carolina today, as well as yesterday afternoon. When I arrived into Boone Monday at noon, I realized this was not really a "high mountains relaxing place". There were four lanes roads with cars speeding in all areas. Even at may be one thousand meters i.e. 3,000 feet above sea level, probably more, the car were still in the lead in the area. Biking would be suicide. Also biking is forbidden in my main target Grandfather Mountain. So I went there, to Boone Bikes, I saw their great 29er just waiting for me, but I left, there were no mountain paths to be recommended. I went back to my hotel and did some more planning.
Then I went to see Blowing Rock. Such a great little village, and such an amazing story about this little shark shaped rock that gave name to the charming little village. The Blowing Rock is a small rock that is sitting above the valley, in such a way that wind is making snow in the winter fall up and not down. A must see and I saw it.
Boone village was not much to see, no interesting hotels but a nice place still. Blowing Rock village was a place I could go back to, it had many small cottages and inns, I could stay there for a week as a base for hiking in the nearby mountains.
Tuesday morning I did the usual work on my PC. When I woke up at 8am my office was already at 2pm and there are still many many e-mail to handle every day. I checked out by 11am. Then I took the Blue Ridge Parkway, such a scenic road, that start in Virginia in the north, then cross through the north west of North Carolina, and end up in Tennessee. A total of 469 miles of road in the middle of nowhere, far away from the nearby four to eight lanes highways.
Then Grandfather Mountain was next. The main tourist attraction on Grandfather Mountain is the Swinging Bridge. It is sort of base camp Grandfather Mountain. You can actually drive up there, walking is not permitted on that road, and I went there, tried the Swinging Bridge in heavy wind, sure it swing, a lot!
As a grandfather myself I wanted to do the Gradfather Mountain. It is not something you should do unless you have done some other mountains. It is steeper and more "air under your wings" than any other mountains I have done before. Linville Peak (5,295 ft.) was easy, it is the reason for the Swinging Bridge, to get to this peak. Then I asked the tourist info at the Swinging Bridge about how much time I would need to get to the very top - to Calloway Peak. He said 5-6 hours both ways, lots of climbing, ladders, ropes, steep... and he told me I had to be back by 6pm, then the park closed. Also, there was a forecast for rain and thunders in the afternoon. He was not encoraging,. but he saw this gradfather in front of him and he just wanted me to forget the whole thing... But I had to give it a try. One hour later I was on top of the Calloway Peak (5,964 ft.), the highest peak of Gradfather Mountain, and the most remote one, but the most impressing peak was still the MacRae Peak (5,844 ft.), a sugar mountain sort of rocky peak that you need to access through a ladder. It was still windy, but I went up there and felt like a bird almost flying, but I triud to keep low, very low.
The most challenging part of the hike - or the climb - was avoiding breaking any legs. I was alone, I met may be 5-6 people on the last half of the hike, with all the scramble it would be easy to break a leg. I did not have any mountain shoes, just my tor shoes, still good jogging shoes. Luckily it was dry rocks with litte sand, I had control most places, and used the ropes and the trees around to secure I could be at the show in raleigh tomorrow and not in the Boone hospital.
The vegetation in the area was great. Lots of Rhododendron with many flowers, a strong sweet smell you only feel in the bush, and it was unusual for me to walk at this altitude and still have a lot of vegetation around, all the way to the tops.
Then down, it took another hour, and three hours in the car to raleigh, where the rain and thunders just set in as I arrived.
I had two short but great days in the North Carolina mountains. And the best part... you plan something, and you are actually succeeding, even if it takes a lot of improvisation on the way.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2015-07-01 07:02 by bv.