Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2017-12-09 Snow Day

North Carolina Snow Day!
Saturday, December 9th, 2017
Rutherfordton, Lake Lure, Bat Cave, Gerton

We had our first major snow storm of the year come through on Friday.  Unfortunately we only got a light frosting here in Spartanburg.  So Amy and I decided to head up to North Carolina where they got a lot more snow!

First stop was the Pleasant Hill Cemetery to decorate Amy's Grandparents Grave Site.

Amy decorating her Grandparents Grave

Cousin Brandon's grave site

Next up was a little visit with Amy's parents:
 Green Road - Rutherfordton, NC

Amy's Parent's House

 Amy's Dad's Woodshed and Shop

Sourwood Knoll

The neighbors house is a bit drafty

 Dun Roamin

We finished up the day with exploring around the Lake Lure, Bat Cave, Gerton area.

 The Lake Lure Marina

Cute Sign posted by the Ducks and Geese of Lake Lure

Blue Heron

 Frosted Flower

 Lake Lure

Lake Lure

Last bit of Fall Color in the Snow - Bat Cave, NC

Bearwallow Mountain Road - Gerton, NC

Pretty Little Church in Gerton, NC

It was a fun day in the snow!

My complete set of photos is posted here:

Monday, November 6, 2017

2017-10-31 Trombatore Trail and Rumbling Bald

Halloween Hike Day!
Trombatore Trail with Brenda
and a Rumbling Bald Solo Hike
Buncombe / Henderson / Rutherford County, NC
Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

Brenda and Me at  Blue Ridge Pastures along the Trombatore Trail

I had one more vacation day to use up before October 31st, which I saved it for the last possible day to join Brenda on a little Halloween hike along the Trombatore Trail.  I had never done this trail before and I expected that the fall color would be peaking in this area.

Instead of doing it as an out-and-back hike like I was planning, Brenda suggested making it a shuttle hike.  So we left her vehicle down at Hickory Nut Gap in Gerton, NC and drove my vehicle up to the Trombatore Trailhead along Bearwallow Mountain Road.

The official trail is about 2.5 miles and ends at a beautiful mountain top pasture called Blue Ridge Pastures.

 Blue Ridge Pastures along the Trombatore Trail

 Blue Ridge Pastures along the Trombatore Trail

From there we continued on via a series of obvious but unofficial trails which took us over to Ferguson Peak.

view from Ferguson Peak

From Ferguson Peak it is pretty much all downhill back down to Hickory Nut Gap for a total one way hike of just under 5 miles.

Brenda would only join me for the morning hike, so I was on my own for the rest of the day.  I decided to head on over to Rumbling Bald to hopefully catch some of those views with some nice Fall Color.

The Rumbling Bald Trail follows an old Jeep road which has become seriously eroded over the years.  It is no longer possible to take a vehicle up this road, but it is still easy enough to follow for a nice hike.

 Along the Rumbling Bald Trail
Once of the last vehicles to attempt to actually drive this old Jeep Trail

The turnoff to Party Rock is about 1.2 miles.  The trail climbs about 900 feet in elevation over this distance.  The views from Party Rock are some of the best around!

 view from Party Rock

view from Party Rock

After enjoying the views from Party Rock, I continued on up the main trail for about a half mile before beginning my bushwhack over to the Cougar Crag Area.  Since all the forest undergrowth was burned during last years forest fires this bushwhack is currently about as easy as it gets.  I would still only recommend for those experienced with off trail navigation!

The final stretch down to the open rock face and the Cougar Crag outcrop can be a bit tricky!

 View from Cougar Crag

 view from Cougar Crag

 view from Cougar Crag

view from Cougar Crag

Since this is off trail, these views are rarely seen!  The only disappointment was I was really hoping for some better Fall color!

I had a little bit of time left, but not enough to get all the way to Eagle Rock and back.  So instead I finished up the day with a little stroll around the Lake Lure Marina Area.

 Lake Lure

 Lake Lure

 Lake Lure

Lake Lure
Lake Lure

My complete set of photos is posted here:

Thursday, October 19, 2017

2017-10-14 Grandfather Mountain from the Boone Fork Trailhead

Grandfather Mountain Hike
from the Boone Fork Trailhead
Watauga, Caldwell, and Avery County, NC
Saturday, October 14th, 2017

View from the Cragway Trail
Grandfather Mountain State Park

We had our annual SSPBDT Mancation Camping trip this past weekend. This group of friends is not really into the hiking, so I left them at the campsite on Saturday Morning and went for a solo hike to Grandfather Mountain.

I avoided the $20 admission fee by starting at the Boone Fork Trailhead along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Along the way I stopped at one of the Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks to check out some above the clouds views!
Above the clouds along the Blue Ridge Parkway

I started my hike by taking the Nuwati Trail up to Storyteller's Rock.

Storyteller's Rock from Below

The trail officially ends at a campsite near the base of the rock, but there are several scramble paths that take you up to the top of the rock for some impressive views!  The spectacular fall color was an added bonus!

View from Storyteller's Rock

view from Storyteller's Rock

From there I backtracked a bit before taking the Cragway Trail up the mountain!  This is a great little trail which has several awesome viewpoints along the way!

 View from the Cragway Trail

 View from the Cragway Trail

View from the Cragway Trail

The Cragway Trail ends at Flat Rock where I took a little break to check out some additional views

 Hanging out at Flat Rock

I continued my climb up the mountain on the Daniel Boone Scout Trail which has a nice distant view of the Linn Cove Viaduct.

view of the Linn Cove Viaduct

All the trails up to this point were new territory to me.  However once I hit the 5,946 ft high Calloway Peak (the actual summit of Grandfater Mountain), I was in familiar territory.

 Out on a Ledge near Calloway Peak

View from Calloway Peak

From the Calloway Gap Junction, I continued on the Grandfather Trail which is one of my favorite stretches of trail anywhere!

Along the Grandfather Trail

 Along the Grandfather Trail

 Along the Grandfather Trail

Along the Grandfather Trail

I had considered going all the way to the Swinging Bridge area, but the crowds started getting thicker and thicker the closer I got.  It amazes me how many more people start their hike from the $20/person trailhead just to avoid about 1,500 feet of elevation gain that is required when hiking from the free trailheads.

There was actually a line of people waiting to climb the latter to the MacRae Peak Summit area!

Heading up to MacRae Peak

I figured the crowds would only get thicker the closer I got to the Swinging Bridge, so I decided to make this my turn around spot.

 view from MacRae Peak

view from MacRae Peak

 View from MacRae Peak
Note:  The people are actually on the trail.  That is one cool section of trail!

I didn't take a whole lot of photos on the hike back down since most of it was stuff I had already seen on the hike up.  However, I did find something that I missed on the hike in.  The remains of an old plane crash.

Plane Crash Remains from May 12th, 1978

Here is the GPS track from my hike

After my hike, I returned back to my friends at Camp Buff.  Once it got dark we decided to have a little fun with some burning steel wool long exposure photography.

Fun with Burning Steel Wool

The rest of the evening was spent relaxing around the campfire!

Hanging out around the campfire at Camp Buff

My complete set of photos is posted here: