Thursday, August 5, 2010

Happy Anniversary (Pisgah Forest, NC)

Monday morning arrived with significant clouds, a little rain and heavy fog.  I strolled up to Dave and Ardis' campsite to get their vote on to hike or not.  We decided it's all about the journey.  Our friend Debbie went with us and we followed Dave and Ardis to the Mount Pisgah trail head.  (Debbie's husband Mike has COPD and doesn't have the wind to hike.)  Remember Debbie fell on our last hike.  Knowing that, Dave gave her his hiking sticks to try to see if she liked them.  They can be pricey so we wanted to know if they were comfortable for Debbie. The hike was 3 miles round trip, quite steep (gained 770 feet) and rocky.  The sticks were great.  Thank you Dave, nice gesture.  Let me tell you about Ardis.  She's 68 and weighs about 100 lbs.  She's wonderfully pleasant, highly motivated and a dynamo.  She led the hike and we followed.  My guess is that she could have easily left us in the dust if she chose.  Bravo Ardis!  The view at the top was great. It wasn't always clear but it was cool to see the clouds move in and out.  When it was clear the view was great.  The only blemish is that at the top there is an enormously large and ugly communication tower. 

The view from the top

The "other" Debbie
Dave and Ardis

The trip down was pleasant as well.  The best part coming down was that there were scads of butterflies.  The Debbies and Ardis were excited about taking multiple pictures. 

We arrived safely at the bottom and went our separate ways.  Later that day Debbie and I went shopping for her sticks.  They were pricey but they're going to be very helpful for Debbie.  We finished the evening at a cheapo Japanese steak house, yuck, bought provisions at the grocery store and headed back up the mountain.

Tuesday was another pleasant day.  We lounged about in the morning, then, like a big boy, I went to some stores in Hendersonville by myself.  Not just any stores, but the best.  Home Depot, Lowe's and Sam's.  That evening we went to Debbie and Mike's camper for a get together.  There were 8 of us there for appetizers, burritos and margaritas. I stuck with my Diet Pepsi.  We had a most enjoyable and animated evening.  We were there with people we genuinely enjoy and both Mike and Debbie were wonderfully gracious.

Wednesday was a great day.  It was our 20th anniversary!  We began with breakfast at our no frills place in Brevard.  Then we headed for the trail.  Without putting together the connection, our destination was Bridal Veil Falls in the DuPont State Forest.  (Bridal....Anniversary ....get it).  We've spoken of DuPont in earlier blogs.  We continue to learn interesting things about the place.  The land was originally owned by DuPont Chemical.  In addition to the location of their plant. it was a recreational location for executives etc.  Eventually Dupont shut down their plant and left and ownership changed hands a couple of times.  The last owner, prior to the state of NC, was a home developer.  Also, part of the forest was an upscale camp of some sort.  The developer had begun construction of an upscale subdivision before a group, determined to save the forest, convinced the state of NC to buy the land from the developer.  The information we read said the state paid the developer four times what he paid for the land and he immediately left, leaving buildings, etc in various stages of construction. The result is that there are multiple structures, in various stages of completion, throughout the forest.  This includes log cabins, lodges, docks, barns and even an airstrip.  Some of this is interesting but my strong practical side grieves about the waste of these resources.

So we did our hike.  It was 6.5 miles and we were out about 5 hours.   The area has over 90 trails.  Some are gravel roads, some are narrow trails but all are well marked.  Our first destination was Bridal Veil Falls.  The falls are a loooooooong sheet of rock with variations that create the falls.  The sight is great, but even more so, it's like a big kids playground.  There's some juvenile pleasure in walking up the rock, between the paths of the waterfall.

Duane at Bridal Veil Falls
We had a blast but we moved on.  Officially the hike didn't register a great elevation change but it was continually up and down.  We eventually came to some of the structures.  The first was a large, well maintained structure with a great view overlooking a beautiful Lake Julia.  The  NC Fire Service Rangers now occupies the structure.  Nice assignment! 

Ranger's work view
Next we came to a largely completed log cabin and later a huge lodge.  The lodge is only half completed and I'm guessing 6000 to 8000 sq ft.  Maybe more.  It's rotting.
Partially constructed (and deserted) lodge at DuPont State Forest
This location was also on the shore of Lake Julia.  Debbie and I sat at a picnic table eating a granola bar enjoying the view of the lake.  There wasn't  another soul around.  It was raining slightly and we marveled at the tranquility.  A very nice moment! 
Our private view while eating our Granola Bars

The lake was small, picturesque and even had a nice gazebo.  We had a nice conversation there with some "younguns" (20 year olds) who were swimming.  We completed our hike in the next fifteen minutes.  We were pooped but pleased. 

I can't conclude the description of our hike though without our usual wildflower and mushroom pictures, so here's a few.

Our plan for the remainder of our anniversary was to go to a nice mountain restaurant called the Pisgah Inn.  Guess what?  We decided we were just too tired!! We stopped for carry out pizza, bruchetta, bread sticks and the restaurant owner threw in 2 great big brownies.  We carried all of this home, pigged out, rubbed each others' feet and crashed.  Way Good!

Today we worked and ate left over pizza.  Tomorrow we work.


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