Monday, September 30, 2013

From the Land of Ma'am: A Day of Hiking

One of the hardest aspects of moving to Charlotte, immediately finding out about my stress fracture, ending up in a boot for ~4 months, and then dealing with RA pain was that it made it impossible to take in all the outdoorsy activity in the Charlotte vicinity.  I LOVE to be active and do things like hike, so not being able to do that?  Totally sucked and made it really hard for me to embrace the part of the country where I live.

But thanks to the steroids I am on (which I have love/hat relationship with, I look forward to going off of it when my RA drug kicks in), my RA pain is a lot more manageable and my stress fracture is healed, so I am finally able to be a bit more active!  I had a free weekend in Chalotte so asked a co-worker that I have hit it off with if her and her boyfriend were up for a day of hiking this past Saturday.  Luckily they were!  I don't let doing things on my own hold me back, but it's certainly way more fun to have some company!

We hit the road early Saturday morning and our first stop was Blowing Rock which is an adorable mountain town about 2 hours north of Charlotte.  We did the Glen Burney Trail, which is accessible from downtown which meant we only had to park once.  I'm all about having to move my car as little as possible.

The hike was about 1.6 miles round trip and I'd say it was pretty easy.  The views were amazing as we saw several waterfalls!


 

By the time we finished that first hike, it was lunch time and we had definitely worked up an appetite so we hit up a cute diner.  We saw an ice cream/sweet shop on our walk to lunch so we all decided to save room for dessert and I am so glad we did!  I enjoyed a scoop of salted caramel ice cream, which was divine.  I am totally obsessed with all things salted caramel these days.

The sweet shop also had lots of truffles and other treats.  I got a small piece of salted caramel pecan chocolate bark (see above-reference salted caramel obsession) and managed to resist buying anything else.

They had a 'buy 2 get one free' special on their fudge, which is made in house, so my friend and her boyfriend bought three and let me try them.  My favorite was (of course) the salted caramel fudge!


With our bellies full, we hit the road and drove part of the Blue Ridge Parkway to get to our next hike at Linville Falls.  The drive was GORGEOUS.  The Blue Ridge Parkway is known as one of the most beautiful drives in the U.S. and it's easy to see why.  Of course this photo doesn't do it justice!


The Linville Falls areas had 2 sets of trails.  We felt ambitious and were motivated to work off our ice cream, so we decided to do both sets of trails!  We started off by checking out the upper falls area, which was beautiful.


Then we climbed up to a couple of different look-out points.  The leaves are just starting to change so we got to see a little bit of fall folliage!  Do you see that waterfall in the background??


Well, we headed back to the trail head and took the other set of trails, which led us closer and closer...

 
Until, bam - it was right there in front of us!  Getting to this vantage point involved a pretty tough trail followed by climbing from rock to rock along the water.  I would rate this hike as challenging, but we were rewarded for our efforts!!


When we got to this last spot, we all laid on a rock , resting and taking in the sight and sound of this powerful waterfall. 

After relaxing for awhile, it was time to climb the trail back up to the parking lot area so we could hop back into the car and drive the 2 hours back to Charlotte.  It was a full day as we spent 4 hours driving, but about 2.5 of those 4 hours were very scenic so it was not too much driving for me.  We think we did about 5 miles of hiking, so we definitely were on our feet quite a bit, but it was so much fun.  My feet hurt at the end of the day, but it was worth it. 

I will defnitely return to this area as it offers many more hikes!  There is talk of the 3 of us maybe going back to this area the last weekend of October, which is the next time I'll spend a weekend in Charlotte.  I am glad that I've found some outdoorsy friends that I get along with so well.  We were together for 11 hours straight and the time just flew - which is always a good sign.

I may be soft on Charlotte, but I sure do like North Carolina!!

Do you enjoy hiking?  Do you live close to areas where you can hike?  When I lived in Minneapolis, I lived about 2.5 hours from Duluth, MN which offers lots of hiking trails, but I never took advantage of it.  I guess I just took it for granted and figured I would get there eventually.  When I move back, I WILL be checking out that area. 

21 comments:

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

As you know, I love hiking especially in Sedona. I have a lot of hiking around me but like you said, I don't take as much advantage of it as I should!

The area you went to looks absolutely beautiful and I'm so glad you found some outdoorsy friends to do it with! And that your body is letting you hike again :)

Amanda Louise said...

They there are some really beautiful places to hike in and around Nashville and I have only been...once. It was so fun though I committed to take better advantage of it and I'm looking forward to getting out and about once I'm a little less like a baby deer on my formerly bad ankle ha!

And now I really want some fudge.

Marlys said...

What a perfect day! I can only imagine how beautiful that drive was! Did you see any part of the Shenandoah Valley on that drive? When we lived in Virginia, we did drive part of the BRP and remember that it was breathtaking! I'm so glad you are making plans for some more hiking this fall! A perfect way to spend a day, I would say!

Abby said...

We love hiking - it's a favorite hobby of mine. Living in San Antonio has made me realize how nice it is the live somewhere that has hiking avaialable -- as it's such a pleasant day trip/escape!!

That place looks absolutely breath-taking! Wow!

I love little Mountain towns. They always seems to have fudge shops like that! I've never had anything salted caramel before, but judging by your love for it -- it may be something I need to try!

Caroline said...

I loooove hiking! Beautiful views! I'm glad you're back to being able to doing active things, nothing cheers me up like getting outside.

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

I'm a big fan of walking cities and hiking trails - anything to keep me moving. =) A couple summers before I got pregnant, we drove out to northwestern Montana and did a lot of hiking in the mountains out there. We have discussed wanting to take a trip to Colorado, but we're holding off until Gavin is old enough to do some hiking with us. He's getting better about walking on his own, but he inevitably asks to be carried (which would not be cool for either one of us on a mountain trail)!

Amber said...

I hope that when you come visit me you are totally healed and able to do lots of hiking because there is SO MUCH around me. So much. We wouldn't even be able to cover 1/4 of it but I have some ideas of amazing hikes we would go on.

That area looks beautiful! I love waterfalls! One of the hikes / possibly trail runs we would do is a 6 km out and back from my house that leads you to a beautiful waterfall!

Marisa A. said...

Yay! WHEN you get back I would be happy to go up to Duluth with you and get in some hiking! The state parks up there are so fantastic it is my favorite place in all of Minnesota!

Nora said...

salted caramel ice cream!?! Be still my heart. That sounds totally amazing. YUM. Glad you had a great day and a lovely hike!

Stephany said...

The last time I went on a hike, I broke my ankle so me and hiking? We are not on good terms.

Looks like a wonderful day and I am so happy you have these active, outdoorsy friends to do fun stuff like this with!

Redhead Running said...

Gorgeous views and they both sound like great hikes. I know, based on experience, that the pictures never do it justice, but I'm glad you shared them anyway. :)

Elizabeth said...

Wonderful! Glad you were able to get out and into some of that fresh air. What beautiful views and I bet it was even better to do it with friends :) Woohoo!

Carolina John said...

You found Kilwins! That place is a BR staple. There's another one at the outlet mall in BR too. There's another store on Main St called the Brass Exchange that you would enjoy, Kelley and I used to run that place back in the day. That one and Windwood Antiques are owned by the same guy.

Linville Falls is one of Kelley's favorite hikes. And you should give Grandfather Mountain a shot when you go back. They have a mile high swinging bridge that will knock your socks off.

qwerkyqook said...

I love hiking, but haven't gone in years! I guess I haven't gone since the inca trail and that kicked my butt :) I should get back at it!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

We have a few places to hike around here but the best places are in the Upper Peninsula. We do have a lot of wooded areas and trails near me. ;) My favorite place to hike so far was in Tennessee.

Jeanie said...

Well, hiking is not my thing, with my bad feet and poor balance. But North Carolina beauty is. Rick's dad lives at the top of Sugar Mountain which is about 10 miles or so from Linville Falls and Rick and I have hiked that one. (You might want to check out Grandfather Mountain near there, too.) It really is beautiful. Blowing Rock is near the home of blogger Jennifer of Ripplespeak.com and also the setting of Jan Karon's Mitford books. Some charming art galleries there. It's a beautiful part of the state and fun to just poke around the antique stores, galleries and of course the natural beauty. I'm so glad you have a work friend that you can enjoy spending off-time with.

Nancy said...

It's so nice to meet you and I loved reading this post....We have a house out from Boone so I know exactly all the places you were exploring around Blowing Rock...even down to the chocolate store....

So glad you had fun and that you are enjoying our wonderful state...

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

What a beautiful place to hike! I really like to get outdoors and do out-doorsy things whenever I can.

Jess @ Wrangling Chaos said...

Linville is stunning. We've been quite a few times.

About an hour north of Charlotte is a place called Stone Mountain. It's a super fab day hike that's one of our favorites. And then there's Sliding Rock, which is literally a water slide on a rock that's been worn down by the water. It's way fun.

Sue @ SimonsSistaSaw said...

I'm only just discovering the hikes around Melbourne. I didn't get into walking/bushwalking until living in England so whilst I'm back in my home town, so many national parks are new to me. It's fantastic though. These waterfall walks look beautiful.

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I am so glad you found such a beautiful area, and so close to Charlotte! As you know, I love hiking, and there are a ton of places to go around my house, and millions of other trails if I am willing to drive a couple of hours. I am lucky to have so many great places nearby. Next time you come here, we will have to go to some of my favorites around here!