Wednesday, October 26, 2016

2016-10-22 New Belgium Brewery

A Fun Saturday
Henderson County, NC and
Asheville, NC
Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 

Amy and Jack by a Waterfall on Private Property

"Asheville vegetarians and vegans rejoice! For the entire month of October many of Asheville’s best restaurants will be participating in the “Asheville Face-Off”; a plant-based vegan competition that will challenge restaurants around town to create innovative & delicious plant-based dishes for the entirety of the month."

Neither Amy or I have any plans to convert over to a Vegan Diet.  However, our good friend Brenda and her husband Wendell are Vegans.  So we decided to get together for dinner at one of these restaurants that normally do not have a whole lot of Vegan offerings.  We decided on Strada Italiano!

Since Asheville is a long drive just for dinner, Amy and I decided to make a whole day out of it.

First up was a nice 2.0 mile "Amy Approved" hike to an awesome waterfall located in Henderson County about halfway between Spartanburg and Asheville.

This one is on private property and I have been asked not to post the name, directions, and/or GPS coordinates!

After our hike we had a nice lunch at the Mosiac Cafe and then on to the Asheville Outlet Mall for some shopping.  The shopping part of the day is for Amy, but fortunately the Outlet mall has an Awesome Beer Store that always has some interesting offerings on draft!

So while Amy hit the Dillard's Outlet, I did a little Beer Sampling.  I really liked the Sweet Water Smokey and the Brett Sour IPA!  The Urban Orchard Habanero Cider was also really good!

Next up was a tour of the recently opened New Belgium Brewery in Asheville

Me at the New Belgium Brewery

Amy and Jack Cell Phone Selfie at the New Belgium Brewery

The 1.5 hour tour was Free, Interesting, and included some beer sampling along the way (my favorite part).  And our Tour Guide was a hoot!

Amy's favorite part of the tour was the slide!  Apparently if you drink enough beer while designing a brewery you come up with ideas like using slides instead of stairs to descend floors!

Amy takes on the Slide!

Our Tour Guide by the Slide

I was originally planning on sampling a few more in the tasting room after the tour.  However, I am not a fan of crowds and that place was packed!  Saturday Afternoon is NOT the time to visit the New Belgium Tasting Room!  So we continued on to downtown Asheville!

We had a little over an hour to spend exploring the streets of downtown Asheville before ending our day with a wonderful meal at Strada Italiano with Brenda and Wendell.  Note: neither Amy or I went with the Vegan offerings, but Brenda was very impressed!

This was a really fun day!

The complete set of photos is posted here:

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

2016-10-21 DuPont State Forest

DuPont State Forest Hike
Transylvania County, NC
Friday, October 21st, 2016

Hooker Falls

When DuPont State Forest first opened to the public back in 2000 it quickly became one of my favorite hiking destinations.  It was relatively unknown at the time so you could visit the spectacular sights without running into a whole bunch of people.

However, in recent years DuPont State Forest has become more and more well known and has gotten WAY to crowded for my taste.  Plus a handful of Darwin Award Nominees have caused forest officials to litter the more popular areas of the park with Caution Tape, Barricades, and Do Not Enter Signs!

Because of all this DuPont has lost some of its appeal to me and it has been close to 5 years since my last visit.

I decided I wanted to try to hit the Fall color at DuPont, so I took Friday off from work to avoid the weekend crowds.  I still ran into quite a few people but it wasn't overwhelmingly crowded.  And it was a beautiful day for a hike!

I ended up hiking almost 16 miles hitting many of the highlights along the way.

GPS Track

Here are some of the photos from my hike (in order):

 Hooker Falls
The Low Water Level gave this one even more character!

The Lower Drop of Triple Falls from the base

Triple Falls from the Overlook

The base of the Middle Drop of Triple Falls

High Falls

High Falls
The Low Water Levels made it much easier to get to this side of the creek.
First time for me taking a photo of this waterfall from this vantage point!

Black Snake along the trail

view from the top of High Falls

The DuPont Covered Bridge

Lake Dense

Lake Alford

Summit Lake  (aka Lake Julia)

The DuPont Barn

Bridal Veil Falls

Me at Bridal Veil Falls

view from the top of Bridal Veil Falls

view from the Bridal Overlook

view from the end of the Airstrip

The end of the DuPont Airstrip

Summit Lake (aka Lake Julia)

The DuPont Boathouse

The DuPont Boathouse

Looking up at some nice Fall Color

Joanna Mountain above Lake Julia

Lake Imaging

The obligatory stop on the Caesars Head Overlook on the Drive Home

view from the Caesars Head Overlook

view of Table Rock Mountain from the Caesars Head Overlook

The complete set of photos is posted here:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

2016-10-15 Black Mountain Crest Hike

The Black Mountain Crest Trail
(aka The Deep Gap Trail)
Mount Mitchell State Park
Yancey County, NC
Saturday, October 15th, 2016

view from the Black Mountain Crest Trail

This was the weekend of the annual SSPBDT Mancation Camping Weekend.  Since most of my SSPBDT friends are non-hikers, I came prepared to do a solo hike on Saturday.  I almost convinced one of my buddies to join me, but some Apple Crown the night before did him in!

So for my solo hike, I decided on the Black Mountain Crest Trail from Mount Mitchell and back!

It is about an hour drive from Camp Buff to Mount Mitchell, but I made a few stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway to check out some of the overlooks.

 view from the Blue Ridge Parkway
Once I arrived at Mount Mitchell state park, I started out with the short climb up to the Summit of Mount Mitchell.  I have been up to the summit about a half dozen times in the past and this was the first time I actually had clear views!
 at the Summit of Mount Mitchell

 view from the Summit of Mount Mitchell

 view from the Summit of Mount Mitchell

I descended down from the summit and continued on to the Black Mountain Crest Trailhead.

This would be an out and back hike, so I would play it by ear as to how far I went before turning back.  I ended up going to the viewpoint just beyond Potato Hill which is about 3.5 miles (one way).

From Mount Mitchell to Mount Craig the trails were loaded with people, but beyond Mount Craig I only ran across a few other hikers, so most of the hike was in solitude.

Here are a few photos from my hike:

view from the Black Mountain Crest Trail

 view from the Black Mountain Crest Trail

 view from the Black Mountain Crest Trail 

 Panorama view from the Black Mountain Crest Trail 

 view from the Black Mountain Crest Trail 

 view from the Black Mountain Crest Trail 

 When I finished up the hike the parking area was 100% full!  Even though I don't like crowds, I decided to climb up to the top of Mount Mitchell to experience the madness first hand!  Definitely crowded, but I did get a few of good shots up there which made it worth fighting the crowds!

at the Summit of Mount Mitchell

 view from the Summit of Mount Mitchell

The Mount Mitchell Summit

 at the Summit of Mount Mitchell

Overall, including both climbs up to the Mount Mitchell summit, the total distance was about 7.0 miles.  Even though you never climb more the 300-400 feet at one time, the total cumulative elevation gain was about 1,700 feet.

 GPS Track

The worst part about the entire day was dealing with the line of cars driving 10mph down the mountain and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It did give me some excuses to stop and check out some of the foggy views on the way back to my SSPBDT Mancation Buddies at Camp Buff!

 Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

 Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Cool Tree along the Blue Ridge Parkway

The complete set of photos from my hike is posted here: