Saturday, June 27, 2015

Virginia Creeper Trail

The Virginia Creeper Trail has been on my radar for quite some time.  Last year, when we were at Stony Fork Campground in Whytheville, VA, the weather did not cooperate for us to bike a portion of this (mostly!)  downhill  trail.  Bummer!  This year, I routed us so that we could again attempt to do it.  We stayed at Shadrack Campground in Bristol, TN.....and, we had success!

Dan, Syl, and I set out one morning for about a 45 minute drive to Damascus, VA.  We had decided to rent bikes and used the services of the Shuttle Shack.  Our friends Bill and Nancy had recommended that we rent bikes rather than use ours.  It was a great recommendation as we didn’t have to worry about our bikes being banged up on the shuttle ride to the drop off point.  And the wear and tear of a mostly gravel trail would be on rental bikes, not ours.   We opted not to use the rental helmets and used our own.  J

After some twisty turny roads, we were dropped off at Whitetop Station.

The trail did not disappoint.  It was a gorgeous day, albeit a bil cool when we first started out (sweatshirts would have been nice!).  We stopped off at several of the many trestles and bridges.
Dan taking in the view

I love how you can see the shadow of the trestle in the leaves of the trees!

Having fun on the trial
We found a path leading off of the trail and decided to investigate…this is what we found…
Christmas trees - the smell was intoxicating...

and the views gorgeous
We stopped at Green Cove Junction to have a look-see!
Syl arriving at the station

Dan checking things out

We spent some time checking out the insides of the station.
Along the trail, there were gorgeous rock outcroppings, beautiful fields, and a babbling brook.

Syl and I stayed on the ground...

Dan chose the high road.
We stopped at Whitetop Laurel Creek for a picnic lunch….

and had great views!
Some portions of the trail go through people’s front yards (literally!)

When we saw this sign, we decided to stop for a mid-trail snack!
Dan and Syl opted for ice cream.  I decided to see if the cake lived up to it’s name.  It did!

Back on the trail, we continued to take in the sights of the gorgeous scenery.

During several sections of the trail, we could see where hikers had set up camping areas.  Every time we saw one of these, it would bring a smile to my face.  We even got to see a few thru-hikers that were hiking the Appalachian Trail.

After about 4 hours, we arrived back in Damascus.  It was such a great day and I would love to do the trail again.  I have a feeling it is one of those things that you could do multiple times and see different things each time.
We bid “see you down the road” to Gin and Syl as we were headed to the farm in PA.  We will meet up with them when we are enroute to Maine.

Life is good!


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Land of the Waterfalls

Davidson River Campground
Pisgah National Forest
Brevard, NC

Over the past five years, Gin and Syl have told us about how much they love the Brevard, NC area.   Brevard is in Transylvania County and is dubbed "Land of the Waterfalls".  We managed to see a few of the 250 waterfalls that are in the county.

Within a day of arriving, we could tell why they love the area.  Green is everywhere, you have the mountains, waterfalls, little streams, more hiking trails than you can imagine, and gorgeous rock croppings.  You feel like you are in the middle of the woods (and you are!) but close to amenities without hearing traffic!

We started our week off with smoked meat!

Riblets and Pork butt - Yum! (and yes it was cool enough for a jacket!)
Syl, Dan and I had the opportunity to do a few hikes and went out one afternoon to Moore‘s Cove.   It is close to the campground and just beautiful.  I especially liked that you could walk behind the waterfall.
No explanation for the white light…ghosts?!

Moore's Cove - I also called this "Morse Code"


Dan checking out the falls

Waterfalls make me smile

We were very lucky with the weather…despite the intermittent rain showers, we managed to stay dry when we were hiking.  One night we had quite the storm and even had hail!

Hail to the yeah!

We went on a wonderful tour of the area on some mighty twisty roads!

Looking Glass Rock....aka "the whale"!

Graveyard favorite hike in the area!

Springtime in the mountains - gorgeous!

Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel...
and more Mountain Laurel
Silly Beans

Dan investigating a hole in the rock....
that was made by the water washing it away.
I love this place!

So neat to see the water flowing over the rocks

Peek-a-boo - can you see Dan? 
We ate lunch at Devil’s Courthouse overlook.
The fog was rolling!
There is a cave in the mountain and legend claims that the devil holds court there.  The Cherokee believe that this is a private dancing chamber and is the dwelling place of a one eyed giant!  I can report that we didn’t see him.  But Syl spotted this beauty….
Red Tanager (a new bird for me!)
Next on the tour was a visit to Courthouse Falls.  The route to get there is not for the faint of heart!  It is 3 miles up a forest service road that is not paved, quite narrow in some places, has switchbacks and is rather bumpy with some washout.  J

We made it to the top without incident and started out on the trail.
Trail markers

Funny hikers
Neat cave-like feature

Courthouse Falls
Dan checking out the falls


Dan and I
Weeping rocks

Babbling Brook

Our fristers - Syl and Gin - I love "back" pictures! 
It is definitely worth the rough ride!

Dupont State Forest is about a 20 minute ride from the campground.  There are miles and miles of multi-use trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.   You could hike for days and days and never go on the same trail!

Syl, Dan and I set out one day.  We had a perfect day, the weather was gorgeous, the trails weren’t too crowded and we saw beautiful scenery.  And, when we made it back to the truck, the skies opened and it rained!

Hooker Falls

Syl having a "sylville" moment
Triple Falls - I had lots of "sylville" moments here.

Syl, Dan, and I
High Falls

View from the top of High Falls

How's this for a great trail?!
Brevard is home to some unique residents….white squirrels.  These are not albino and in fact, as Gin puts it, they look like reverse skunks.  We read that  you are likely to see them in town on the campus of Brevard College.  We rode around a few times and never saw any.  During a pedal bike ride through the campground one day, I spotted one!  I didn’t have my camera with me and I was by myself.  I quickly went back to our site, grabbed Syl and the camera and off we went.
This is cute!

White squirrel; gray squirrel

Cute in a tree!
It was neat watching him (or her!).  It stayed near the ground for the longest time hanging around a bird feeder.  Everytime we passed by after that, we would see if we could see him.  He was around quite a bit!  It was cool to see.

Our time in Brevard ended and we have started our trek north.  Thank you Gin and Syl for sharing your special place with us!  We can certainly understand why you like it so much!!