City to Trails

A city girl's journey to the trails of North Carolina


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Weather Woes

I have a serious love-hate relationship with spring. I love when the sun begins to stay out longer, a pleasantly warm breeze drifts through my windows (that I’m finally able to keep open), flowers blooming and birds chirping. There is nothing more breathtaking than seeing the mountains against a bright blue and clear North Carolina sky. Then, the rain begins. I swear, it feels like it goes on forever! I know, I know-April showers bring May flowers. Honestly, though, I could really do without the rain. I would never survive in the Pacific Northwest.

Of course, there are also days like today. I woke up and it was, once again, raining on my day off. Not only was it raining, it was starting to get very windy and very cold. So cold, in fact, that it started snowing. It’s the middle of freaking April! WHY is it snowing?!

Stupid spring! Teasing me with awesome mid 70’s and sunshine, then BAM! Mid 30’s and snow. I’m so over it.

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A Girl and Her Shoes

When I moved to Asheville, I didn’t realize the impact it would have on my lifestyle. I was pretty materialistic before moving here. After all, I came from an area where a local mall contained stores like Louis Vuitton, Neiman Marcus, and Tiffany & Co. Material things were what most people strived for, especially women. Looking back now, I can clearly see how silly those things really are. However, I sometimes find myself longing for the days of getting dolled up and showing off my new digs. These days getting “dolled up” and “showing off my new digs” takes on a whole new meaning.

I. Love. Shoes. I’m not really sure what it is with most women and their obsession with shoes, but I am certainly one of them. And, like most women, I have more shoes than I probably should. Before the move my closet consisted of mostly heels and flip-flops, I did live in the land of the flat, where it is hot all the time, and flip-flops are the norm even if its 40 degrees out. It’s a Florida thang.

So pretty!

So pretty!

What is my favorite pair of shoes? I’m so glad you asked! These little beauties. A gorgeous pair of Cole Haan leather penny loafer pumps. Too cute, right?? Surprisingly, these heels are very comfortable. They are made with Nike Air Technology, which made wearing them for an extended period of time very easy. Seeing as I used to work in an office for 40 hours a week and constantly needed to be in business attire, these were my go-to shoes. I loved them, and I still do. Although, now, they just aren’t practical. I see women, especially tourists, walking around downtown Asheville in heels and I always wonder how comfortable they are. Lets be honest, this town is set right in the middle of the mountains so all your walking is uphill and downhill, heels just can’t be that comfortable. But, who am I to judge.

Now that I work retail for an outdoor outfitter, heels almost seem silly. Almost. I am always fighting the urge to buy a pair of heels just because I say “Ooohhh, these are so cute!” Instead, I say “Oooohhh these are so comfy!”, then I buy them. I have officially traded in my heels for Oboz hiking boots and Chacos. The flip-flops I will never give up, they are still somewhat practical. They are completely practical if they are Chaco Flips!


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Hike 5: Mount Pisgah

Hike five. Wow. It is hard to believe that I’ve done more hiking in the last 6 months than I have in the last 2 years. It’s also hard to believe that I used to look at hiking like a silly hobby of those who are bearded and smelly. Terrible, I know. The important thing is that my mind-set has changed completely.

Today, I hiked Mt. Pisgah, just of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I also hiked it alone! *Gasp* Well, I wasn’t technically alone. Ruthie, my trusty side-kick came with me, of course! If you asked me to describe this hike in one word I would say it was an ass-kicker. I am now well aware of how out of shape I really am.

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My trusty side-kick telling me that I must keep going 🙂

 

Rock Stairs

Rock Stairs

Mt. Pisgah is a really difficult hike. It is a relatively short hike (about 1.5 miles to the top), but it is up, up, up the whole way. There are not many spots where it levels off and you can catch your breath. I was so tired on the way up that I almost turned around and went back down the mountain. Thank goodness for Ruthie. I could tell she wanted to keep going, if it weren’t for her I would have seriously missed out.

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So proud of myself that it totally deserved a selfie!

 

Once you make it to the top there is a HUGE television broadcasting tower that belongs to one of the local news stations, along with a wooden platform that gives you an amazing 360 degree view of the mountains. It is totally worth all the blood, sweat and tears. Okay, okay so that might be a bit dramatic, but there was a lot of sweat!


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Hike 4: John’s Rock

Best. Hike. Ever. Well, at least so far. This was an amazing adventure. A perfect combination of hard work and reward. John’s Rock is located in Brevard, NC and you can access the trailhead in the parking lot of the Fish Hatchery.

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The picture above is one of about 5 different “bridges” we had to cross along the way. It was interesting to watch little Ruthie make her way across each bridge. She tends to get very excited, and because she is a hound dog, she has the need to smell EVERYTHING. I thought for sure she would catch the scent of something and take off into the water. Such a goof ball.

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This trail is pretty intense. Certainly the most difficult trail I’ve been on thus far. The loop is about 5 miles and climbs about 1000 feet in elevation for half of the hike. You need to be aware of whats under your feet. Tree roots and rocks are a constant battle on the trail. Having said that, the reward is spectacular.

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Once you reach the top of John’s Rock, the end of the trail peeks through some trees to give you just a tiny glimpse of the scenery in front of you. After you step out on to the rock the view is breath-taking, and a bit frightening.

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The rock is very steep and can be slick. As usual, being my paranoid self, I stayed very close to the trees until a made it a little further from the edge. Directly across the way you can see Looking Glass Rock (which will be my next hike). You can also see the road and the hatchery. It was such a beautiful sight to behold. We took a short break to snack and take in the views.

The hike back down was just as difficult as the hike up. Since the trail is steep on the way up, it is just as steep in the way down. Sometimes I think going down is more difficult. You have to maintain a slower pace because if you gain too much speed and momentum odds are you will just tumble down the mountain.

I would suggest this hike to everyone. It was so much fun and I will certainly go back, mostly because I want to explore the area a little more.

 


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Hike 3: DuPont State Forest

Ahhh, the Land of Waterfalls. There is nothing in this world like the sound of a waterfall. These natural beauties are a sight to behold! A few weeks ago I got the itch to see some waterfalls, after all I live within an hour of many of them.

As you may know, DuPont State Forest is known not only for its waterfalls, but also for its film appearances. The Last of the Mohicans and The Hunger Games were both filmed in these woods. I think its pretty cool to be traipsing through an area where many popular stars once were (I’m a movie and TV junkie, so this is like my version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame).

Aside from DuPont’s cool Hollywood connection,  it is a gorgeous area for hiking or just a leisurely stroll. If you choose the latter, though, you could limit yourself to the wonders that you could see. I (really I mean me, Daphne and, of course, Ruthie)  hiked for about 4 miles-out and back.

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Hooker Falls is the first waterfall you will come across. Just a short jaunt from the parking lot (a 1/4 of a mile to be exact) you will see the first of 6 waterfalls. I only saw 3 of the waterfalls, but don’t you worry, I will go back to see all 6! You can check it out from the viewpoint at the top of a small hill, then if you walk down the hill you can get a little more up-close-and-personal.

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About 1/2 a mile and a relatively steep climb later you will see the gorgeous view of Triple Falls. This is probably my favorite of the 3 falls I saw. Again, you can see it from the viewpoint or you can go down to its base. We did both. Luckily, there are stairs to take you down to the base. When you get to the base you have to be careful, the rocks can be very slick, and being the paranoid person that I am, I couldn’t bring myself to venture too far from the stairs. Some people were climbing around near the top of the waterfall, and frankly I think that is crazy and stupid. That is how people get hurt or die. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but its true. If you do decide to live on the edge, literally, please be careful!

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At the 2 mile mark is High Falls. It’s a pretty easy trek, but totally worth it. We did not go down to the base of the falls this time, instead we kept going up and made it to the covered bridge. I loved the covered bridge. We took a break and enjoyed the view from the top of High Falls.

This hike is probably one of my favorites and one that I will do again and again. Next time, I might try to do all 6 waterfalls.


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Hike 2: Bent Creek

Since my Craggy Gardens hike was a wee bit of a let down I decided I needed something a bit more challenging. This time my better-half and I chose to hike in Bent Creek. It has many different trails all varrying in difficulty levels. I picked the Explorer Loop. According to the map it is a moderately difficult trail and is 3.3 miles long.

I think it took us about 2-3 hours to complete the whole loop, and I enjoyed every single second of it! There is something about being in the woods that it very cathartic. Its so peaceful and beautiful. It gives you time to think and clear your head, but without thinking too much. Especially on the trails in Bent Creek. You have to be focused on where you’re going and your surroundings because it is a very popular trail for mountain bikers and horseback riders.

The mountain bikers were in full force when I hiked this trail, and boy do they sneak up on you. I was in complete awe of how any of them managed to stay upright with all the rocks and roots and countless other obstacles in their way. Hearing the woosh as they would ride past me was intimidating, but I powered through.

This hike was just what I needed. It had just enough challenge to make me feel like I accomplished something, but not so much that my legs felt like Jell-O by the end of it. I’m pretty sure I’m hooked.


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Hike 1: Craggy Gardens

I should mention that I created this blog almost 2 years ago. Like I said in my last post I stopped planning anything outdoorsy because I freaked myself out with too much research, which essentially made this blog useless. However, I have now accomplished 4 hikes and it is now time for me to document those adventures.

Sometime in October I managed to convince my amazing better-half, Daphne,  to take me on a hike. Due to my tendency to do overwhelming research I  asked my  better-half if she would pick a place to go hike. I didn’t want anything to tough because it was my first time, a hiking virgin so to speak. Daphne decided on Craggy Gardens.

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On the car ride, look at that goofy face! I’m talking about the dog, of course. Let me introduce you to Ruthie. She will be involved in most, if not all of these hikes 😀

I don’t want to sound too negative,but I was slightly disappointed. I expected rough terrain and a days worth of excercise. I got easy-peasy. Don’t get me wrong, the views were spectacular, but I wanted to feel like the views were my reward for all my hard work. For me it was just too easy and a bit of a let down.

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I’m not saying this is a hike unworthy of your time. It’s definitely something you should do if you have young children or if you just want to take an easy stroll. However, if you want challenging, this is not the hike for you. Even as a completely novice hiker I walk all the time and everywhere because I don’t have a car, so this was just another trip around the neighborhood for me.

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All in all it was a very successful hike. While it left me slightly unimpressed, it also made me hungry for more. More of a challenge. More gorgeous views. More time in the woods. That was just the push I needed.