Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October Vacation; Day 2: 6 Waterfalls, 8 miles, dinner, and a long drive!

Ashley, Kaleigh, and I woke up in Hendersonville North Carolina early, before the sun was up. We struck out toward Dupont State Forest for our first hike. I had read that the hikes were fairly easy and there were a number of nice waterfalls to see.

This was an understatement. Although we hiking about 4 miles, it was very easy going, too easy for Ashley and I but perfect beginning of a day for the legs of a 6 year old. The first leg of the hike was to Hooker Falls. When we arrived, I really thought this might be the most impressive falls of the day. It was quite a spectical. It was a good 30 foot drop but was extreamly wide and photogenic.

Next up was Triple Falls. For whatever reason, I had not read much about Triple Falls so I was not expecting much. When we saw it we were blown away. This is easily in the upper echelons of waterfalls I have seen in my life. It was a magnificent three tiered waterfall that was massive in size. In fact, there was even a spot where you can hike down to a rocky area at the 2nd part of the falls. We spent a fair amount of time climbing rocks and just enjoying the area before heading back to the trail.

High Falls was next on the list. It was an extremely tall falls that you can hike to the very bottom and stand in the spray. Kaleigh and I climbed some rocks and played around a bit before heading out. We had other hikes to do and as the morning wore on, people started to pour onto the trails.

After a short drive and a couple of big scores at local thrift stores, we headed into the Pisgah National Forest. With the government shutdown, we did not want to risk driving long distances of forest roads with the risk of a closure deep into the woods so we did a couple of the more common spots for day hikes. First up was Looking Glass Falls. Looking Glass is one of the most photographed falls on the east coast and it was clear why. It was very iconic and photogenic. Kaleigh was excited and broke out her camera and climb onto the rocks with me to take photos. She and I collaborated for about 30 minutes taking all sorts of pictures. It was fun to see her get excited about something that many kids her age do not care about.

A couple of miles down the road was Moore Cove Falls. It was about a 1 mile hike into the falls and although the water was not gushing over the top, we were able to get behind the falls which made it worth the trip. Kaleigh and I talked about the unique Eco-systems that occur at the base of waterfalls and even climbed to the top. It was a tough climb for her little legs but she made it without issue.

Just further down the Blue Ridge Parkway we stopped at what would be our final hike of the day, Graveyard Fields. This hike was several miles round trip and much of it was walked through a field that has never recovered from a massive clear cut and forest fire in the early and mid 1900's. It was an extremely nice hike, the foliage was gorgeous and the terrain was unique with surrounding mountain dipping into a valley. We arrive at the last falls of the day, Upper Falls. All three of us climbed a cascading rock formation to be rewarded with another great falls behind it. Together, we climbed up the falls and sat right next to the water and had a nice snack of vegan jerky and dried mango.

The sun was beginning to go down and we headed to Asheville for dinner and a hotel. Once we arrived, I checked the Great Smokey Mountains National Park new feed and was greeted with the exciting information that they were going to be open the following day at noon after reaching a deal with the federal government! Thrilled, we had dinner at Rosetta's Kitchen, a brief family meeting, and decided to head to the Smokies that night. Kaleigh slept most of the way there and we got into a hotel fairly late. We settled in quick and planned for another early rise, we were now in the Smokies!

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