Back from the Mountains

Three times! It takes forever for me to write a blog entry anymore, so I’m just lumping some trips together.

Two weeks ago I went with the Palmetto Paddlers to camp and kayak the French Broad River near Asheville. It was a very rainy experience. Friday the 24th, I carpooled with Brian O., and we stopped off for cookies at the Wildflour Bakery in Saluda before heading up to Brevard. Several club members camped at the Davidson River Campground. On Saturday, more paddlers met up with us at the put in on the river. Many of us thought it was odd to see a river flowing north, not south or east like a typical South Carolina river. But the French Broad is on the other side of the Eastern Continental Divide, and flows over to Tennessee. The paddle trip was OK, but I’m not much for urban paddling, as there was a lot of highway noise along that stretch. The views of the Biltmore were fleeting, but we did see it. After the paddle, several of us visited the Compleat Naturalist, a little nature store in Asheville that has the most comprehensive field guide selection I’ve seen. That night we had dinner at the Twin Dragons in Brevard, an insanely large buffet of Chinese, Mexican, and other stuff. Sunday a few of us took a detour to the new DuPont State Forest to see three waterfalls. Brian and I took the scenic route back to SC, and stopped at Caesar’s Head State Park. We had wanted to see the migrating hawks and the view, but had to settle for a sheet of white cloud, as the park was fogbound. We also stopped in Ware Shoals, doing a little prospecting for a paddle trip on the Saluda River there. Here’s the official club trip report.

The next weekend we went with good friends to the area near Boone, North Carolina. It’s the first I’ve been there, and it takes a long time to get there. But the rented cabin was beautiful and worth the ride. Saturday we took the kids to the Tweetsie Railroad and let them have fun. Sunday we drove part of the Blue Ridge Parkway and took in the views. The fall colors were just beginning to get underway, and I’m sure they’ll be much better about now, but the parkway will probably be that much busier too.

In the middle of last week I took my son for a short mountain camping trip. We sort of picked Oconoee State Park at random. It’s a decent park, tucked up in the mountains near the upper-left corner of the state. It was expensive to camp; for some reason they charged me a reservation fee for a walk-up, and there’s 10% tax charged too. We had a section of the campground nearly all to ourselves, and it was pleasantly quiet. The following day we took a trip up to Whitewater Falls, which straddles the NC/SC border. We stopped at the upper falls. The fall colors were just thinking about appearing there. I’ve been there three times, and a weekday morning is a good time to go there and avoid the crowds. Sometime I’d like to get down to the lower falls but I haven’t had the time for it yet.

I think I’ve had enough mountains for now; I need some beach time!