Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Asheville Adventures: Days 3 & 4

And I'm back with the 2nd half of my Asheville trip recap!  On Saturday I woke up bright and early which gave me plenty of time to get a bigger breakfast before heading out to another trail head to meet a hiking group from Charlotte.  This group was hiking in the Shining Creek Wilderness which is about 45 minutes from Asheville.  I had been eating breakfast in my room but on Saturday I headed into West Asheville to check out Biscuit Head.  They had gluten free biscuits so I was excited to try them out.  The picture of the food doesn't make it look super appetizing as the biscuit & eggs are kind of monochromatic, but it was really good, as was the siracha cole slaw (yes,I ate cole slaw at 8 am, weird I know).  I also had fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice.  If I went back again, I think I'd get the eggs on the side so I could have the biscuit with honey or one of the many jams they had.

After breakfast I caffeinated at West End Bakery with a vanilla latte.  I heart foam art!  They had GF baked goods so I also got a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin to enjoy as a post-hike treat.

After properly fueling, I headed out to the trail head.  I ended up taking the Blue Ridge Parkway to get to the trail head.  The views along the drive are just stunning.  I pulled off at several look-out points to take in the views...

And snapped a Saturday Selfie! 

Most of the look-outs have signs telling you your current elevation as well as the elevation of the peaks you are looking at.

After meandering along the parkway, I arrived at the trail head and easily found the Charlotte group.  When I read about this hike it said it had some strenuous parts but I am going to say that the meet-up description could have been more strongly worded.  I am in good shape so I was able to do this hike without too much trouble but it is probably the hardest hike I have ever done.  First off, the trails were not marked, so you had to really rely on directions (luckily another group member printed some off) and secondly, it was long and strenuous as we covered about 8.4 miles over the course of 6 hours (which includes time for a lunch break).  I would definitely do it again as the views were beautiful but I would start earlier if I did it again (we started around 11:30).

The views along the climb up were beautiful as much of the trail was along the Shining Creek.

After about 2.5-3 hours of uphill climbing, we made it to the top.  The views were beautiful!  We sat on the rocks at the top and ate the lunches we had packed.

Then it was time to head back down.  Most of the trail was fairly flat but there was one 1.5 mile section that was basically straight down and very difficult so we took our time on that section.  Occasionally there were little trails off the main trail to look-out points.

One of the coolest things we saw was this little teepee that someone has recently built.  We met several people out on the trail who were doing multi-day hikes in this wilderness area, so someone must have gotten ambitious and built this!

We got back to the car around 5:30 and I was beat at this point.  A group of 14 of us started off, but 6 of us went ahead as we were moving at a faster pace.  I need to email one of the girls from the group to find out when the rest of them made it back...  I hope they all made it back safely and during daylight because this area of has had bear sightings lately so I would NOT want to spend the night out there!

I headed back to my hotel, showered, and headed into Asheville.  I started off by going to a tapas restaurant called Curate.  I had 2 small plates - the top dish is a tuna and tomato salad with a sherry vinaigrette and micro greens, and the bottom dish is piquillo peppers stuffed with Spanish goat cheese.  I am usually not a big fan of goat cheese but these were delicious!

I intentionally ordered smaller plates to save room for dessert as I wanted to get gelato from Chocolate Gem. I got 3 scoops:  chocolate, sea salt caramel, and cappuccino.  It was delicious!  They also had many truffles and caramels but I stayed strong and did not buy any!

The next morning I did another meet-up with the group I hiked with on Friday.  We got to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway once again, but in a different directions so I got to take in some new views.  We stopped off in this adorable little village called Little Switzerland.  The views were amazing!

After that, we headed to Crabtree Falls where we did a hike that was just under 3 miles round trip, I think. 

And then we drove to another nearby waterfall where we did a shorter mile hike to the Roaring Forks waterfall.  Multi-level waterfalls are my favorite so I especially enjoyed the views of this waterfall!

We got back to Asheville around 3 and I had to dash back to Charlotte to make it to 5 pm mass.  When I took this trip I thought it would be my last but it's looking like I'll be back next Monday to do another hike with the Asheville group (weather permitting). Knowing I would likely be back in just over a week made leaving a little bit easier.  And I will pass through this area on the drive back so at least I'll get to enjoy the views from the car!

My time in Charlotte has been, in a word, craptastic, but one great thing that has come out of my time here is discovering Asheville.  There is just something special about this city and its surrounding area.  One of the people I hiked with commented that Asheville is a place that people come to heal and I can see how this is true.

I don't know that I will ever come back to Charlotte unless I have to come for work, but I will most certainly come back to Asheville. 

Is there a place you've visited that has totally captured your heart?  I have several places that are all very different such as Paris, New York City, Asheville, and Vancouver.  They are the kind of places that I can keep coming back to over and over again and I will never tire of them!


Becky said...

Holy mother of hiking Batman! You are a rockstar - AND you're going back for more!

Love your pics - and so glad there's a place you enjoy nearby that you can spend some time in!

Caroline said...

Wow so much hiking! I love it!

Hmm places that have captured my heart.. NYC, San Francisco, everywhere in Italy, Charlottesville..

Jeanie said...

I'm so glad you had a wonderful time -- a great way to wrap up your southern time.

My places are Paris, London, Amsterdam and Boston. I suspect I might feel the same about Santa Fe if i ever get there!

Marlys said...

Gosh, I don't know what looked the best - the pictures of the scenery or the food! Gosh, we don't see food like back here! Nor views like that! So glad you are soaking this in before you leave NC!

missris said...

I'm so glad you like Asheville so much! It's such a fun town. D and I are going there for Labor Day to visit my sister and her bf and I can hardly wait!

Nora said...

Mmmm, sea salt caramel gelato! I had some sea salt caramel fro-yo Sunday night; it was great but i bet gelato is way better :)

Way to go on the hikes; I agree with Becky you are a rock star! Love the tee pee that you found along the way; how neat.

For me, places that have captured my heart: Daytona Beach, Sanibel Island, Door County and Redondo Beach (outside of LA).

A said...

And now I need to book a trip to Asheville!

I have a special place in my heart for South Africa. Johannesburg in particular. It's very familiar and also completely exotic. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Carolina John said...

That is a lot of fun! Riding the Parkway is always a blast. We used to hit it in Blowing Rock too. We actually tried to move to Asheville several times before landing in Raleigh, but the jobs up there never worked out. I'd move there in a heartbeat if I thought the job opportunities were stable enough.

Boone was like that for me. I lived there for 5 years in college and would still move back in a heartbeat. i never get tired of going there. I think Racine, WI was the same way. I've been twice and absolutely loved it both times. Kelley thinks we're going to retire to Racine from the way I talked about it.

Amber said...

I would love to visit Asheville one day after hearing how much you love it. It sounds like such a cool place!

I feel like San Francisco is a city I will want to visit multiple times. I already have trip #2 planned with you girls and I know I want to go there with Eric one day too!

Abby said...

Again, this trip is amazing!!! How fun!! Iove all the waterfalls on your hikes! We're you sore after this weekend??

San Diego has totally captured my heart. I always say "everything is *okay* in San Diego". You can go there with no itinerary and always have plenty to keep you smiling. Same with Big bear, CA. I love CA....if only the cost of living wasn't so steep!!!

Leigh said...

Those are some serious hikes that you did! 2.5-3 hours of climbing?! Oh man. Those views are so worth it though!

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

Those hikes look awesome. I have heard a lot of good things about the Blue Ridge Parkway area. That first day of hiking sounds pretty tough! Is this group older, middle aged, younger or a variety? Do they all meet up weekly to hike? What a great way to hike with other people.

Pretty much all of Italy and Switzerland felt like bliss to me. As far as the U.S., I have really loved Victoria, Bend, Chicago and the Redwoods.

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

What a great wrap-up of your trip! Weather looked wonderful and the views on your hikes were stunning! Fingers crossed weather allows for one more return next week.

Places that have captured my heart include Cape Cod, Barcelona, Florence, the Colorado Rockies and Big Sur.

Emilie said...

The teepee is really cool! Your latte looks delicious and a GF pumpkin chocolate chip muffin sounds SO GOOD right now!

The city that's captured my heart is Portland, Maine. Lots of breweries, farm-to-table restaurants, farmer's markets, bike trails, you name it. I love it. I haven't been in almost a year and I don't think I'll be able to get there until this fall.

Linda said...

You'll be gone by then but I booked a trip to Charlotte for a wedding an hour north of it. Will try to hit up Asheville and somewhere in South Carolina and somewhere in Virginia in just a weekend's time. Totes bookmarking this blog post!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I could go back to Nashville, Anna Maria Island and Traverse City over and over and over again.

Major Allen Espy said...

Wow. Asheville will always welcome you! American places that captured my heart: Portland (OR), Asheville, Jackson Hole, Minneapolis (for you!) and Cape Cod. Overseas: Japan, Bangkok, Bali, Paris, Sri Lanka and Moscow. But my heart is always in Alabama, in the small town where I was born and raised, and the place where my parents are now buried.

Stephany said...

All this hiking talk is making me tired! Haha. The views are incredible - makes it all worth it! I'm glad you found such a love for Asheville, some small good thing to come out of your time in Charlotte!

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

New York has totally captured my heart. I feel like I belong there.

Elizabeth said...

So great! What wonderful outings and so glad you were able to connect to a meet-up group. It definitely makes it easier to hike with others. Loved the picture of you in the lean-to :) Sounds like Asheville is pretty amazing. I don't know that I've truly felt that way about many places. I fell in love with London when I did a study abroad there when I was younger--I didn't want to come home at all. I am enamored with Charleston but I'd only want to live there for a few years. And I absolutely loved Boulder when I visited there but I wouldn't want to actually live there. :) So...maybe that all means that I'm happy where I'm at in Oregon? I don't know... :) Good food for thought.