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David & Caroline Visit Sapphire 11/10-11/18

We did not travel the second week in November, because we had our friends, David and Caroline from Greenville and Waynesville come visit us in Sapphire. We had all been together at LEAF Festival in October and planned to get together for some hiking and fun. Glad we made it happen so soon. It was great sharing our mountains with them. They arrived Saturday evening. We had dinner at home, followed by chatting around the fire, then an intense game of Rummikub, in which Wiley took all three rounds. I usually win, so I am guessing he was actually trying this time, because his techie friend was here, so yeah. I am competitive and don’t like to think he usually doesn’t care enough to play his hardest and just let’s me win…Anyhow, it was a lovely evening.

Sunday morning, I made bacon & egg muffins, which were a hit, then we were ready for the trail. It was 36 degrees, so we bundled up, loaded up the puppies, and headed to nearby Panthertown to hike the moderate 2mi. out-and-back Greenland Creek Trail. I highly recommend this one for children and inexperienced hikers. We were surprised the Cold Mountain parking area was as full as it was given the weather. Lots of cold weather committed hikers out there. We hiked through the typically muddy waterfull rhododendron forest to the giant boulders and fabulous Greenland Creek (or Holly) Falls. We took some pics, had a snack, then I wanted to attempt to go to the top of the falls, where I’d seen people in the past. We clawed our way up the steep dense left side of the waterfall, but did not find an easy access to the top of the falls, so we just kept going along the creek, past a beautiful cascade, until the trail petered out. When its warmer and we can be in shorts and river sandals, not worried about getting wet in the icy waters, I’ll return and make my way to the top. It’s a mission now. We hiked back on the Greenland Creek Trail until we reached the Mac’s Gap Trail. We decided to take this alternate route back to the parking lot, since we’d always taken the same in and out, and wanted to try another trail. It was definitely drier through the forest and away from the water, not a bad option if you want to see varied scenery. Greenland Creek is definitely one of my favorite local hikes and a great one to share with visitors. There’s a lot of bang for your buck, following the water most of the way, then the awesome boulder playground and gorgeous waterfall payoff at the end. If you haven’t been, get there!

After our hike, we’d worked up an appetite. We returned home to the curried chicken salad, I’d made. Our ethnic food loving friends were big fans. I was thrilled to find out Caroline has been a pomegranate fan since childhood, like me. She was overjoyed by the perfect pomegranate, I had for lunch and the pomegranate cutting hack, I shared with her. It’s the little things. After our late lunch, Caroline and David headed home. They were such wonderful, easy guests. We told them to come back anytime. Fun sharing our mountain wonderland with people, who enjoy it as much as we do.

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Grayson Highlands State Park, VA, West Jefferson, NC, Blue Ridge Parkway, & Davidson River Campground 7/27-31/18

Wow! What a fabulous 9th anniversary celebration we had. Instead of a 5-star Hotel, we did a 5-billion star one, camping in the Virginia Highlands. Grayson Highlands was a bucket list state park. I am so happy we finally made it there, what a magical place.

We camped at the overflow Chestnut Hollow Horse Campground, because the Hickory Ridge Campground was full when we called to reserve a spot. We ended up being pleasantly surprised and were happy with the campground and campsite. It was heavily wooded and shady, although the spots were a little close. Thankfully, we liked our tent dweller neighbors, a precious family from Greensboro with four children, boy age 10mos, and three girls 3, 5, & 7yo. The girls wanted a tour of the van where the 3yo gave the bed the jump test. It was so cute! The girls adopted us the rest of the weekend and had a hard time when we left. We’re hoping to see them at LEAF Festival in Black Mtn. in October. The parents were interested after we told them about it and recommended it as “Woodstock for families”. While camping, you meet the nicest people.

After getting set up in site #12, we had time for a quick hike from the campground to Massie Gap before dark. We took the Horse Trail East, to the Cabin Creek Trail, to the Massie Gap Parking Area. We were greeted by a field full of wild ponies just below the parking area. They were absolutely beautiful and so tame. It was such a thrill! My favorite was a tiny gray 14yo stallion, who, I later learned, the rangers call, Fabio. He is the smallest, but the leader of the herd. There were also, two little foals with the herd. It was such an amazing experience seeing them in their natural habitat, albeit too close and familiar with humans. One pony did get a little frisky and run off another when someone was giving the aggressor food. I wish people would not do that, but people will be people…

Continue reading Grayson Highlands State Park, VA, West Jefferson, NC, Blue Ridge Parkway, & Davidson River Campground 7/27-31/18

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Bee Day in Greenville 7/23-24/18

 

We had a busy week last week. After returning from Mt. Pisgah, we got word that we could see our grandaughter, Bee in Greenville. So, we repacked, loaded up, and headed down the mountain for a couple of days to catch up with friends and spend time with Bee and Wiley’s parents.

Monday night, I had dinner with my bestie, Melissa at California Dreaming while Wiley hung out with his parents. We boondocked in their driveway for the night. It was nice to see everyone and catch up.

Our time with Bee is so little, we jam as much as we possibly can into the days we spend with her. We ate breakfast in Happy after picking her up then started the day doing one of her favorite things, going to Barnes & Noble Greenridge. We got drinks and snacks at Starbucks then headed over to the beloved Lego Table. Bee gets bunches of plastic Scheleich animals and dinosaurs then builds a Lego Zoo for them as is her ritual. She made a little girl friend, who also loved dinosaurs. They had some epic T-Rex battles. After she left, some other girls came that Bee was not too happy about, so she took her dinos and left for the train table. The little boys at the train table didn’t know what hit them when Bee came bounding over with her T-Rexes. She propped them atop the train shed and water tower and roared ferociously. It was hilarious. Finally, one of the little boys bought in and played too. The others just backed away in shock. It was awesome!

We left Barnes & Noble and went to another fave, the Runway Cafe & airport playground. Wiley Sr. and Jolene met us to watch Bee play a little bit then we all had lunch outside overlooking the runway. It is such a fun experience playing and dining there. We had a ball!

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Mother’s Day Weekend Mountain Staycation 5/11-13/18

We were supposed to spend 5/11-13 at Thunder Rock Campground in Copperhill, TN 1.8 miles from the Ocoee Whitewater Center. We had been looking forward to exploring this area that we had only ever driven through in the past. There was to be good hiking right from the campground. Sadly, upon hearing the 90 degree weather forecast for the weekend, we cancelled, deciding to stay home, where it was going to be in the 70’s. We do not like to run the A/C in Happy, because of the noise. We prefer staying where it’s cool at higher elevations, where we can have the widows open to enjoy fresh air, not have noisy A/C. That being said, when you’re lucky enough to live in the Sapphire, NC, staying home is not a bad thing, but instead a chance to explore our own area, where we have only scratched the surface since moving here in summer 2016, because we are always traveling.

Saturday, we did a fabulous hike with our fur babies. We discovered a treasure hidden in plain sight, only 5min from home. Just South of Gorges State Park, there is a trailhead at Brewer Rd and Hwy 281 that takes you to a series of 10+ waterfalls on the Thompson River, which drops into Lake Jocassee.

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Fontana Dam, 9/23/17

We camped at Cheoah Point CG, but don’t recommend it, because there’s no hiking from the campground. We drove Happy to hike at the gorgeous Joyce Kilmer Forest. If you just plan on doing day hikes in the area and/or on the AT, I recommend camping in the National Forest sites just outside Joyce Kilmer on the beautiful river or in the Horse Cove Campground right there too. We left JKF and stopped at lovely historic, Tapoco Lodge on the Cheoah River, which a friend had recommended was worth a visit. We did another hike on their Bear Creek Falls Loop, followed by drinks at the tavern on the river. Tapoco is a nice place to stay at the lodge or cabins, to take a hike (lots of trails and connectors to NF trails), or to just have food and drinks, after a long hike or multiple hikes, in our case. We drove Happy on the Moonshiner 28 route along the Little Tennessee River, just below the Tail of the Dragon. We passed the Cheoah Dam, which was where they filmed the scene from The Fugitive when Harrison Ford jumped off the dam. That was some jump! From there, we went to visit Fontana Dam. The AT crosses over the top of the dam, into the Great Smokey Mountain National Park on the other side. Fonatana is the largest dam East of the Rockies. It was impressive! We had already done two hikes that day, plus, dogs aren’t allowed on trails in the GSMNP, so we did not hike much, except around the dam. Great area for a weekend of hiking!

 

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Blood Mountain, 2/25/17

 

Now, about that bucket list hike on the Appalachian Trail…WOW! It was a booty kicker, but it was awesome! We hiked from our campsite at Vogel State Park, got on the AT, and took it to the summit of Blood Mountain, the highest point on the AT in GA. It was 4mi from Vogel to the top, then on the way back down, we missed a turn, and went .5mi down then back up .5mi, after realizing our mistake, for a grand total of 9mi on Saturday. It was one of our most challenging hikes to date, but oh, so worth it. We felt a great sense of accomplishment afterward. Now, we’ve got the bug and are already looking at taking Happy and hitting another AT section in the next week or two. Wiley has said, he’d like to thru-hike the AT at some point, but I’m not feeling it. Happy’s got me spoiled, thus the High Maintenance, part of my name. I’ll be content to RV and do section day hikes. Loved checking one off my Bucket List! Life is beyond amazing! Happy trails!
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Carvers Gap, TN 8/6/17

We camped at the fabulous Roan Mtn SP for the weekend, which I highly recommend. Love it! So much great hiking from the campground, plus the AT nearby.

On Sunday, we drove happy up Roan Mtn, parked the van, and caught the AT at Carvers Gap on the NC/TN line. It was a short hike through a mossy, fir-filled forest to the first bald, Round Bald, and the beautiful Roan Mountain views. Truly, breathtaking panoramic views. Want to do more of the AT there next time, but we were too sore after Saturday’s 12-miler, to do much on Sunday. Can’t wait to go back!

We have now hiked on the AT in TN, GA, and NC. We are working on hiking a section of the trail in every state it passes through. Have a long way to go!

 

 

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Rock Gap, AT 4/10/17

We camped for the weekend at one of our faves, Standing Indian CG in Nantahala NF, near Franklin, NC. On Sunday, we packed up, but before heading home, we wanted to do a small AT hike. We couldn’t be right there and not hike on the AT. We parked Happy at the Rock Gap trailhead parking lot, just outside the campground. We jumped on the AT, southbound. After Saturday’s 10-miler, we only did a two hr hike, an hour in and an hour out. It was great being a part of the AT culture, if only for a couple of hours.

At the trailhead, we met a full-timer, 7, who “lives” on the AT. He was waiting for some thru-hikers to give them a ride to the hostel in Franklin. 7 was fascinating and full of stories. Check out his YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwjpBT4fyuBBCznQDy_QYsw). On the trail, we passed the Rock Gap Shelter, which had lots of hikers camping there, just beginning there day. We hiked a bit then met thru-hikers from Denmark, Germany, and Washington resting at the overlook. Loved hearing their experiences from the trail and about being in this country for the first time. Fabulous views at the overlook too!

When we were coming off the trail, “Trail Angels” were there with a table set up, feeding a bunch of thru-hikers lunch. Perfect day on the AT!

 

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Sunburst Trail, West Fork Pigeon River, Pisgah National Forest 2/23/14

February 2014, we took a day trip to Waynesville, NC, visiting for the first time. We had a bite to eat at City Bakery, walked around a bit, then went in to Mast General Store to ask for a hiking recommendation. The eager clerk, told us about a nice little hike with lots of water in the Sunburst area, which sounded like exactly, what we were looking for. The clerk gave us some loose directions. Being totally unfamiliar with the area, we hoped for the best. As instructed, we turned on the Forest Service Rd off of Hwy 215 (Lake Logan Rd), just after the Sunburst Campground. We parked in a small gravel lot right before the river crossing. The trailhead was just in front of the parking.

The trail followed the river the entire way with great scenery and a fabulous rushing water symphony. We hiked through the rhododendron forest the entire way. The trail ended at a nice little fall with lots of cascades. We probably only hiked a mile in and a mile out, but it was late afternoon and we had to head back to Greenville, so it was perfect.

Easy little hike with lots of bang for the buck. The trail is gorgeous and easy enough to do with children or inexperienced hikers.

We heard later, that we missed the Sunburst Water Fall, stone arched bridge, and swimming hole just up the road North of the Forest Service Rd on Hwy 215. Also, the Green Knob Trailhead is right there at Sunburst Falls. It is supposed to be one of the most challenging in the region. Looks like we need to go back, camp at the Sunburst Campground, and make a weekend of it. Eager to return and explore this area more.

Directions:

If coming from Waynesville North on Hwy 215 (Logan Lake Rd), Turn Right on the Forest Service Rd, just after passing the campground.

If coming from the Parkway South on Hwy 215 (Logan Lake Rd), Turn Left on the Forest Service Rd, just after crossing the bridge over the river.

Here’s the address to Sunburst Campground for Google Maps or the like: 7705 Lake Logan Rd, Canton, NC 28716

Alternate Parking:

Ford the river seen here in the last picture and park in that lot, if the small gravel one is full.