Since we’ve been at sea level, warm weather and not hiking for the past month, we decided to make our first Asheville hike an easy one. It’s a lovely 20-mile drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway to the parking area for Mount Pisgah and only 1.5 miles with 712 feet (or so the sign says) of elevation gain, nothing compared to our tortuous Adirondack hikes in September.
I know it’s 50 degrees but it’s sunny so I’m wearing pants, hiking boots, wool socks and a wicking t-shirt under a fleece under my Patagonia Nano-puff, my buff and my green hat, and I’m thinking I’m set.
Until I open the car door and feel the wind.
It is dang chilly!
We head up the trail and Walt asks me if I have a warm hat and gloves. Well, yes, I do, but not with me. I just wasn’t prepared for this. Yesterday at the Biltmore Estate, I wasn’t even wearing a fleece between my t-shirt and puff and I got hot enough to need to take off the puff a couple of times.
As nippy as the wind is, the sky is clear blue and the trees are gorgeously colored. We persevere.
It’s not very long until the trail starts to climb. There are a lot of other people out (this is a very popular hike) as well as many, many happy-looking dogs (tails wagging, sniffing everything, eagerly moving forward, in case you’re wondering).
It’s lots of stone “steps” to the top, giving me plenty of time to think about the difference between Adirondack trails and most other trails. Adirondacks trails are a full-body workout, with so many places that you need to use your hands to help pull you up. They also require so much more thought about “where am I going to place my hand?” than your normal hike pretty much anywhere else (and we’ve hiked on 4 continents).
Up we go, getting warmer to the point where I take off my fleece, keeping my wind-resistant puff. I’ve also borrowed Walt’s gloves.
At the top, the views are well worth the effort. There’s a viewing platform with nearly 360-degree views. I say “nearly” because there’s a communications tower also on top that blocks a sliver of view. No matter. It’s gorgeous. Just layers and layers of mountains in every direction. There’s still plenty of color on the leaves. We can see Asheville. And we spot the Biltmore Estate.
After a few selfies, we head back down. The wind has died a bit, which makes the downward trek even nicer.
Not a very challenging hike by our standards but a nice return to the mountains. We drive back on the Blue Ridge Parkway with the top down, enjoying the foliage and the lovely views over the mountains.