Monday, October 31, 2016

2016-10-28 Table Rock, SC and some other stuff near Highlands, NC

The Table Rock Trail
Table Rock State Park, SC
and some other stuff near Highlands, NC
Friday, October 28th, 2016
Panorama View from the end of the Table Rock Trail

All I knew to start the day was that I was meeting Andy somewhere near Highlands, NC sometime between 1:00pm and 7:00pm.  He said he would text me the details later the day.

I used my last last vacation day of year (our vacation year ends on October 31) and took Friday off.  I packed up my hiking and camping gear and hit the road towards Highlands with no definite plans in mind.

I knew I needed to go somewhere with Cell Service so I could keep in contact with Andy.  It has been about 5 years since I have last hiked Table Rock, SC and I knew I would have good cell service throughout the hike.  I also figured that it would be a bit less crowded on a Friday.

So Table Rock it is!

It is about a 3.7 mile hike  (7.4 mile out and back) with about 2,000 feet of elevation gain making it one of the more difficult trail hikes in South Carolina.

Here are a few photos from my hike:

On the hike back down I heard from Andy

Andy:  "Do you have Kevin Adam's Book with you"
Me:  "Of Course!  I never leave home without it"
Andy:  "Meet at the Chasm Falls Trailhead   Probably 5ish"

The other interesting thing I ran into on the way down was about a dozen Park Rangers and Paramedics heading up the mountain.  I never saw anything on the news, which makes me hopeful that it wasn't anything too serious!

Paramedics on the way up Table Rock Mountain

After Table Rock I continued my drive towards Highlands with plans to stop at Silver Run Falls.  However, I decided to pass on that when I saw the parking area overflowing with cars.

I did make a stop at the Shadow Bear Overlook on US-64 between Cashiers and Highlands.  It was a bit too early in the day for the Shadow Bear to make an appearance, but there was some nice fall color!
 View from the Shadow Bear Overlook

Stopping off at Highlands,  I grabbed a bite to eat and enough Subway Sandwiches to last me the rest of the weekend.  I also picked up some interesting beer for the weekend, including a six-pack of Kevin Adam's Favorite Beer  (Graveyard Fields Blueberry Coffee Porter from the Boojum Brewery in Waynesville, NC).  Definitely interesting, but I would not put it up there with my favorites!

Kevin Adam's Favorite Beer

I was running about a half hour early when I passed some excellent looking campsites.  Amazingly I still had a cell signal.  I got a message from Andy updating his ETA to 5:30ish, so now I was an hour ahead!

Rather than waiting around at the trailhead, I sent him a message telling him that I was grabbing a campsite on the road in to Chasm Falls and would just meet him there.

 Our Campsite along Blue Valley Road (prior to Andy's arrival)

Andy arrived right at 5:30pm.  I would just hop in his car for the few more miles down the road to the Chasm Falls Trailhead.

Backpack = Check
Hiking Pole = Check
Water = Check
Tri-Pod = Check
Cell Phone = Check

So off we go to the trailhead.  It wasn't until we got there that I realized I had left my camera in my truck at the campsite!  This is now the third time over the past few years that I have forgotten my camera when riding with Andy to a hike.

I settled with cell phone shots for this evening.

 Andy at Chasm Falls

Note:  I would get back the next morning for some shots with my better camera, as Chasm Falls is definitely an impressive sight and well worth getting some real shots of!  (those shots will come in my the next blog post).

With Team Waterfall, you never know who is going to show up or when the will arrive, but for tonight it would just be Andy and I hanging around the campfire.

Andy and Me hanging out around the campfire

Interesting things happening around the campfire

The complete set of photos from today is posted here:

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: