Lookout Mountain

We’ve found another loop hike about 5 miles in length, a little shorter than I really like for a dayhike but it’s still summer and I really don’t want us to overdo it in the heat. We’re headed to a popular nearby area called Montreat but we’re not too worried because it’s a Monday morning. Except that Montreat houses a conference center and small college and, apparently, it’s moving-in day at the college. Or so we guess by young people cheering and waving as we drive through the stone arch entrance.

We’re sorry to disappoint them.

The trail to Lookout Mountain is short and pretty straightforward so, of course, we’re not going that way. I have a nice loop plotted out that takes us away and around the backside of Lookout before we finally get to the top and enjoy the pretty views below us. We’ll take the short route back down to the car.

There’s a few other cars in the lot but we don’t see hardly any other people on the trail.

It’s hot but the hike is pretty gentle on the uphill and the trail is pretty flat, actually sandy in parts, so it’s not too bad.

We enjoy the views and a snack from the top of the lookout, take the short route back to the car and call it a day.

Back to Hiking

So we’ve been going to the gym regularly but have done no hiking since we returned to Asheville several months ago. First I was sick for two weeks, then we had a record-rainfall May and by June we were knee-deep in visits to dentists and doctors (all routine), with our architect, and to showrooms for appliances, lighting, tile, floors, etc., for the house we’re building on a beautiful site just south of Asheville.

Since we’re out of hiking shape, we’ve picked short (for us) hikes of about 5 miles and 1,200 feet of elevation gain. My typical idea of a day hike is 8 miles with at least 1,500 feet of elevation gain but since it’s August and we haven’t been hiking, we’re starting off with a few easy hikes.

Our first hike is supposed to be on the Appalachian Trail from Carvers Gap up to Roan Mountain but the hiking book we were using just said to “go through the gap in the fence on to the AT” from the parking area. We looked to the left of the parking area, saw a fence with a gap and a sign for the AT and went that way. For some reason we never looked to the right (of course we knew the AT also went that way) but had we looked, we would have seen another fence with a gap and a sign for the AT and might have gone that way (the correct way) instead.

As it was, we hiked through some lovely woods and came out to the former site of the Cloudland Hotel before turning back to our car. It was an overcast day, actually foggy where we were since the peaks are above 5,000 feet and the clouds were low. Despite not having any of the fabulous views promised by the hike (had we gone in the correct direction) we didn’t miss anything because the clouds would have prevented any outlooks.

Still a good little outing and a lovely drive up to the North Carolina-Tennessee line, in an area we haven’t seen yet.

For our second hike, we’re starting from the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Walker’s Knob Overlook on our way to Little Butt. We’re actually hiking on the Big Butt trail but all the hiking guides I’ve consulted say that while there’s a great rocky outcrop with views of Mt. Mitchell (highest peak in this area) and the Black Mountain Range from Little Butt, Big Butt is all treed-in and not worth the extra mile and a half or so of effort. Later, in trying to figure our how much elevation we did on the hike (about 1,300 feet), I see various hiking blogs that say there are views from Big Butt. Too late now.

The trail turns out to be a bit of a rollercoaster, as we immediately descend from the parking lot at Walker’s Knob into the forest. Soon we’re headed up a bit, then down, then up again. I lose count of how many times this happens. The directions say that after Point Misery (not nearly as bad as it sounds), we’ll be heading down some wooden steps, so it’s easy to know when we get to that part. In addition to the wooden stairs, it’s also the steepest “down” we’ve done so far. Of course, we’ll need to go back up to get to Little Butt. It’s at this point that I tell Walt this is an out-and-back hike, meaning we’ll be coming back up these steps in an hour or so on our way back to the car.

Turns out there are many more steps on our way to the top of Little Butt. But once up, we easily find the side trail to the rocky viewpoint, sitting and enjoying the view, a snack and a break before we return back down our rollercoaster to the car.

Just at the end, we run into a man doing some trail work, making paths across the trail for water to run across and away from the trail instead of straight down it (as water will tend to do). We had found the trail very well-maintained and thank him for his hard work. We have a short conversation about nearby trails before Walt and I head home, well content with our return to hiking.

Day ? – Who’s Counting?

So we’ve been “settled” – if you want to call a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment “settled” – in Asheville for 3 ½ months, the longest we’ve stayed in one place since we left Virginia in June 2017.

I haven’t written much because the blog is “wandering car” and the car hasn’t wandered much past the golf course, gym, and grocery store in all this time. There also have been numerous trips to architect’s office, the property we purchased in June, and too many kitchen, granite, bath, tile, flooring stores to count.

Despite its small size, we’re pretty content with our space. Our landlords are great, providing helpful tips like how to see the Biltmore Estate’s Fourth of July fireworks, where’s their favorite local brewery (so hard to choose!) and leaving gifts like home-grown tomatoes and blueberries for us. We have a lovely front porch with two rockers, a table, a grill and the basil plant Walt and I bought at a farmer’s market so we could have fresh basil with our caprese salads.

I sit on the porch with my kitty buddy, Charlie – currently taking a bath at my feet – to write. Despite not blogging much, I am working on a book on my hiking experiences and am keeping a diary of our house building. I don’t know what, if anything, I’ll do with my house diary, but I noticed that while trying to write my hiking book there are a lot of things I don’t remember. So I try to write down all the steps and activities we’re going through in our process.

Of course there’s plenty to do in Asheville and we are very much taking advantage of the lovely summer weather with its sunshine, light breezes and low humidity to get out and about a bit. Some of the things we’ve done this summer:

  • Attend an Asheville Tourists baseball game (twice). Fun little park just a couple of miles from our rental.
  • Visit the Biltmore Estate (we bought annual passes) to walk, eat ice cream, enjoy a drink while a band plays at Antler Hill Village, watch the aforementioned fireworks display, see the gardens both before and during the fabulous Chihuly glass exhibited opened in May.
  • Explore numerous local arts and crafts fairs, where we’ve found a number of artisans whose works we plan to buy for our new home.
  • Dine and/or drink at a restaurant or brewpub. There’s almost always a band of some sorts playing anywhere you go.
  • Boring stuff like find doctors and dentists to get caught up on all our physical checks.
  • Visit my parents in New York for Mother’s Day weekend.
  • Attend a retirement party for a friend of Walt’s in Maryland.
  • Visit Walt’s family in Hilton Head.

Still on our list for this summer (and it’s already August, going by so fast):

  • Visit the Chihuly exhibit at night.
  • Go to Sliding Rock, a 60-foot natural rock slide.
  • Go tubing on the French Broad River.
  • Go hiking.

I know. No hiking in months. Hard to believe but the only hike we have done locally was the short 2-mile loop to the top of Bearwallow Mountain. The trailhead is located at the edge of the community where we bought our property. We haven’t been hiking for a variety of reasons. When we first arrived in April, I was suffering from a horrible chest cold that lingered. Then there were torrential rainstorms in May, with the area getting about 3 or 4 times its monthly average of rainfall. Not only do we not like hiking in the rain and mud but we didn’t want to risk taking our low-slung car up a washed-out dirt road to a trailhead. By the time the weather cleared in June, we were deep into planning for the house and doctors visits – nothing seriously wrong with us, it’s just that you get sent to a specialist for every question you have. It was the same in July – doctors and house, I mean – and I still can’t believe the whole month has passed.

We can’t make any more travel plans until we know where we are with the house. We’re still finalizing plans and need approvals and a builder before any work can begin. Once we feel like the house is under way, we plan to hit the road again.


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