Friday, December 24, 2010

The Sixth Day - A roadside stop

There are a lot of roadside stops along the Parkway. Many times I felt compelled to stop and looks around, which led to it feeling like I wasn't making much progress and really detracted from the purpose of the trip, which was the drive itself. Still, many of them were nice worth stopping at.

When I arrived here, I was alone. During my hike, two vehicles arrived, one of them the orange Avalance that had been dogging me. As I was getting ready to leave, the owners returned and we talked for a few minutes. Nice folks.

The Sixth Day - A waterfall

Along the roadside.

One of the many waterfalls along the Parkway. A pair of binoculars or a true telephoto lens would have been nice. I'd have liked to have time to try to see if I could hike to this, but time was getting late and I still didn't know where I was going to stay.

With the digital zoom on my camera.

Again with the digital zoom.

The Sixth Day - Table Rock Mountain and Mount Mitchell

There was still much more to do on the sixth day. I stopped at Altapass Orchard which is a historic apple orchard along the Parkway. They make cider from trees on the property and have local musicians play there. It is a nice place to stop and visit. Unfortunately, it was not the season for cider and they had some faux cider they were selling. It was not particularly good. Still, it is worth checking out and I would like to go back there when they are producing real cider.

Altapass Orchard.

Table Rock Mountain.

Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the Missisippi. While I was there, the weather started to cloud over and it began raining while I was at the top. The visibility was pretty poor. On good days you supposedly can see Clingman's Dome and Grandfather Mountain, but that was pretty much not going to happen while I was there.

Mount Mitchell also boasts the 'highest restaraunt east of the Mississippi.' Aside from the view, I can't say I recommend it. As expected, it was pricey. I chose the Ham and Cheese sandwich and have to say I was disappointed by three thin slices of ham on a grilled cheese. I'd been expecting some actual ham on the sandwich, but that was not to be.

I also had thought about stopping for the night at the campground there. The campground and sites look very nice, but you have to hike back to them a bit. This wouldn't be too much of a problem, but since the weather was iffy and my tent leaks, I decided to push on. I certainly wouldn't mind staying there again in better weather.

Views of Mount Mitchell and the surrounding area.

The observation tower at the summit.

The road leading to the summit of Mount Mitchell

The view back to the parking lot from the summit.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Sixth Day - Grandfather Mountain

I spent quite a bit of time at Grandfather Mountain. The gift shop and museum were nice. The cafeteria is a bit pricey, but it was a nice setting. After not seeing it yesterday, I saw the orange Avalance again. Figuring how much I was stopping, I thought they'd be long gone ahead of me.

Departing Grandfather Mountain.

A last look.

The Sixth Day - Grandfather Mountain, The Bears

One of the attractions at Grandfather Mountain is a small zoo. The main attraction is the bears. At the time I was there, you could feed the bears a specially made food. They would wander up and you would toss the pellets to them which they would then wolf down. They stopped this practice the week after I was there.

This bear was not allowed food by visitors. It was fed by the staff. Here it is face down at the trough.

The Sixth Day - Grandfather Mountain - views from the road

I decided to walk down the road rather than the trail on the way back. I figured since the road was supposed to be closed to traffic, it wouldn't be too much of a problem or too dangerous. I was right.

Below you'll find some pictures from the walk down. You can see why they don't want people walking along the road as well as why they don't want any long vehicles on it.

Apparently they filmed a scene from Forrest Gump on this location.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Sixth Day - Grandfather Mountain

At the top of the mountain, there is a bridge crossing a small gap. The bridge will sway in the wind and its claim to fame is that it is one mile above sea level. When you think of such altitudes, you usually think west of the Mississippi, but there are some lofty heights east of it too.

The Swinging Bridge.

The Blue Ridge Mountains with the Parkway stretching into the distance.

Calloway Peak.

Calloway Peak.

Looking West.

A couple of rare pictures of myself.