I have the internet! Posting is slower than I'd like because for some reason trees haven't figured out a way to provide me with Wi-Fi...so until then I'll be posting when I'm in a hotel, at a friends house, or in a car parked close enough to an establishment with Wi-Fi.
After we last spoke I completed my drive to Asheville, NC in the rain. I had plans to meet up with my wonderful friend Eli who has just returned from thru-hiking the Applachian Trail and called him when I neared my campground. Like I just said he's wonderful and invited me to stay the night at his house with his Mom and his lovely lady, Kandy. Yes please! It was raining out and a night with my good friend Eli and another good friend called a bed sounded amazing. I made the forty minute drive from Asheville, NC to Clyde, NC and was greeted with a hug! Eli lives in a beautiful area with great views of the surrounding mountains. Because of the rain the fog was heavy and really quite
mistical. (Get it? MISTicle?) pretty. We took it easy that evening with Eli telling hilarious and inspirational stories from when he was on the AT.
Wednesday morning we rose pretty early and hung around the house for a bit. His mother was preparing for a craft fair and needed some things done before we could go have our fun. I searched out some hikes and Eli and I left around 11:30. First stop was Barber Orchards which was a great little (duh) orchard and shop filled with yummy goodies about fifteen minutes away in Waynesville, NC.
After puchasing an apple fritter for myself and a turnover for Eli we made our way on to the Blue Ridge Parkway (realized we didn't have enough gas, went to get some, yadda, yadda, yadda) and drove 25 windy-ass miles in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to our first hike. THE DEVIL'S COURTHOUSE.
This is apparently where "the Devil holds court." It's also where Eli and I sat at the top to enjoy the breath taking (seriously) views and ate our "apple accessories."
The views from the Parkway are stunning enough but it was well worth it to make this "short but strenuous .5 mile hike" to the top to see even more incredible views.
After this neither one of us was really game for the four mile hike we had planned to do afterwards so we went for a more manageable hike on the Art Loeb trail on Mt. Pisgah. The Art Loeb trail is over thirty miles long - we hiked about two miles of it. Also, let me just point out that hiking with someone who just finished the Appalachian Trail is really intimidating. Props to Eli for being patient and kind as I huffed and puffed my way to the top - I'm exaggerating of course. Of course. The interesting thing about this trail was that we were hiking along what are known as balds. These grassy, treeless areas on the mountain are unique to the Southern Appalachian and somewhat unexplained. The nice thing about this hike was we were at the tippy top of the mountain - this means 360* views!
So while our hiking paths lead to the tops of mountains - they also lead to something else. That inevitable thing that comes after a nice day of hiking. Beer! (sorry Mom, it's true.) Apparently Asheville is "Beer City, USA" beating out Portland, Oregon for that title. Western North Carolina boasts fourteen breweries! FOURTEEN! We met up with Kandy and had lunch at Rosetta's in downtown Asheville (I'd been here on a previous visit) and each got a local brew-ha-ha. Afterwards Eli and I walked around downtown and visited Firestorm Cafe & Books of which he is a co-operative owner. Check out their mission statement - you'll find it is a refreshing approach to a local, small business.
This blog post is getting way too long so I'll end quickly. Eli + Bea + Kandy + beer + a campfire = how we ended the night.