If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Down From The Mountains

We're back from our hiking vacation.  We went west and north (to the state directly above us), where we hiked and camped on mountains.  I love the mountains and the coast but in very different ways.  I love the two combined the best.  (See last year's vacation).  But I live directly in the middle.

We spent the first two days at a gorgeous state park.  We weren't thrilled with the campsites themselves but the park was beautiful.  We had our best hike on our first full day of the trip.  We hiked 10 miles, mostly above the tree line, using loops (b hates going straight out and back).  The weather was perfect.  It was sunny and warm but not too hot and there was a gentle breeze in the air.  The trails were crowded but the people friendly.
View I from our campsite

View II from our campsite

Cocktails and snacks before dinner

b, as usual, cooked us delicious meals.  He concocted a dirty rice chicken dish the first night and a chicken/mac&cheese/string bean combo the next.  They may sound strange but they tasted wonderful.

Our next hike was shorter (6 miles) and not as interesting.  The section of the trail was quite lovely but it didn't vary much.  It felt like a long straight path through the woods.  It was also considerably hotter and muggier.

We generally intersperse campsites with motel rooms on these kinds of trips so that night we found a motel, showered and ate in a restaurant.  Finding decent places to eat when b wasn't cooking turned out to be the hardest part of the trip.  It was sad to see how many independent establishments have closed in the small towns, leaving residents with nothing but fast food options.

This was actually one of the better meals/establishments

We drove on a scenic, curvy parkway back down to our own state.  It was a pretty and fun drive and we saw a lot of bikers: both the motorcycle and bicycle kind.  There are also trails along the way, so we could stop and hike whenever we wanted.  One trail we hiked was very short but had lots of steep climbs.  It was a fun little challenge with some pretty views.

The trail we hiked the most was the AT.  We used to hike parts of it on a regular basis when we lived UpNorth.  We were very lucky to live close to a section of the trail.  The AT is my favorite place to hike and this was our first opportunity to hike it since we moved south.  One day we hope to do it completely but I would need to take a 6-month leave of absence and that is not happening anytime soon.  Also, Pupzilla is now to old to hike it with us and we wouldn't be comfortable leaving her for that long.

We ended the trip in a vacation/university town.  The town is known for its skiing (which in the South seems a little strange to me) and reminded me of a smaller version of Boulder.  We were able to get decent food here as well a perused a few independent bookstores and an outdoor equipment retailer (always a favorite past time for b).  It was very cute and charming and we were quite amused there.

Met this beauty in a bookstore

Painting in the bathroom of a local breakfast spot

Our last hike was right outside this little city, in a brand new state park that seemed to have nothing in it but this brand new trail.  The trail was only 1.3 miles each way but it was straight up.  The day was hot but luckily we were high enough to get a nice breeze.  The view at the top was spectacular and worth the climb.  The trail itself was too well maintained for my hardcore husband.

b taking a picture of the view

Very well-maintained trail

It is nice to be home but even nicer to look forward to our next vacation.  In just three weeks we'll be heading UpNorth to see friends and family.


Julie said...

Hi, Brig. Welcome back! Your pictures are fantastic. I wish I could take pictures that well, and I'm not just saying that to be nice. Yours could be in a magazine. The scenery is very beautiful. I really dig the diner with the checkerboard floors, too.

Your husband's cooking sounds awesome. There's just something about cooking and eating outdoors that makes it taste even better to me. I'm glad you had a great trip.

Psycgirl said...

I'm glad to hear you had a great vacation!

Dr. Bad Ass said...

Lovely pictures. And you know I have a love thing with the AT. Thru-hiking was the hardest and best thing I've ever done. I wouldn't mind doing it again sometime. Great motorcycle/sidecar thing too!

Annie said...

Hi Brigindo,
Thanks for sharing your hikes and your great photographs! My husband, son, and I head out the end of next week for a trip to the Smoky Mountains. We're staying in Maggie Valley, NC, a great central location for the mountains and the Natahala River. One day, we'll get back to camping again; but we'll be doing lots of hiking.

comebacknikki said...

I'm glad to hear you had such a great time! Everything looks fantastic!

Maggie May said...

it's simply gorgeous!