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The Big Hike to Hawksbill Mountain

I never posted the pictures from the Big Hike last fall.

It was a one mile hike to the top of a mountain that stood tall along the Blue Ridge mountain range. Towards the end of the hike the trail was nearly straight up the side of the mountain!

The views from the top of Hawksbill Mountain were some of the best I’ve seen in the Blue Ridge. It was also exciting because we finally managed to time it right to see the perfect autumn leave colors.

It can’t really be seen in this picture, but on that rocky ledge is Wiseman’s View, which I visited years ago!  It was cool to be on the other side of it.

These mountains overlook Linville Gorge, which is a river that runs though this area deep in the valley.

We stayed on the mountain top for a while, eating the little picnic we packed and looking out at at colorful mountains.

For some reason this short weekend trip the the mountains almost  a year ago really stands out in my mind as one of my top favorite trips. The weather was perfect and everything we did was so much fun, with no stress of worries. Looking through these photos really reminded me of the time spent there and made me excited to return soon.

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Falls in the Graveyard Fields

I love discovering new places on the blue ridge parkway. Some places are a long and difficult hike to get to, others are just a quick walk down some wooden stairs.
The quick walk down the wooden stairs at Graveyard Fields led to a peaceful rocky stream. I would have liked to stay here and wander around in the shallow water, but as this had been a quick little 24 hour trip to Asheville to see a concert, I hadn’t packed the right clothes for playing in a river!

 

The goal was to hike to the big upper falls of Graveyard Fields, but we got turned around and ended up back in the parking lot!

The story of that adventure is here.

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Graveyard Fields

Somewhere along the Blue Ridge Parkway, a little south of Asheville, is a meadow called Graveyard Fields.
There isn’t a gravestone in sight though.
  The name came from a vast amount of trees that had been snapped in half during a violent storm and then resembled graves.
But that was many many years ago.
The trees have returned.
Much of the path though the woods is led by a winding wooden boardwalk.  Other parts are more like semi dried up mudslides that forced us to make our own little side paths to avoid getting trapped in the mud.
It was a sunny day, after rain had been falling for weeks, but dark clouds were still swirling around the skies. A reminder that the storms weren’t over yet.
We continued down the scenic trail hoping to reach the upper waterfall, but the signs were not marked well and somehow we ended up back at the parking lot without ever seeing the big waterfall.
Along the trail these little red blooms caught my eye. They had sprouted up from some lichens growing on a rock. I’ve never seen lichens bloom before so it was an exciting find!
Graveyard Fields is now at the top of my “Favorite Places on the Blue Ridge” list.

 

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Driving on Mars

During the dive away from the Grand Canyon, towards northern Arizona, the landscape grew more and more like nothing I had ever seen.
Around every curve was an entire new world. It was a valley, with sharp red cliffs rising up to the sky.  Then around just another curve, the road was on the top of a mountain, looking out over a flat golden plateau. Snow capped mountains stood in the distance.
It felt like another planet. Like Mars.
Every so often was a house, or a trailer, or what could be considered a minuscule town. But mostly, there was no sign of civilization.
The farther the drive, the more alien the landscape looked. Eventually the curvy desert roads led to this bridge. Red mountains surrounded the area, while the bright blue Colorado river flowed beneath the bridge, heading towards the Grand Canyon.
The goal was to reach Monument Valley by dusk, so not much time could be spent in this foreign place. But it stands out in my mind as one of my favorite areas of Arizona.
I hope to one day return.