Finally a sunny day! We Left Valdese around 9:30 am heading for Blowing Rock where we will rejoin the Blue Ridge Parkway where we left off last Saturday. On our way to Blowing Rock we spotted this neat cloud which we thought looked like an angel.
Going into Blowing Rock there was road construction. I’m not sure what they were doing but this is one of the largest cranes that I’ve seen on a road project. Weren’t we lucky to be right behind this dump truck fully loaded with gravel?
One of the first overlooks we stopped at had a short trail down across a wooden bridge to a dammed pond.
A short distance down the parkway was this little lake.
Our next stop on Babs’ list was the Viaduct overlook. We thought that meant that you would get a panoramic view of the Viaduct. It turned out to be a trail which took you under the Viaduct to get a better understanding of its construction. It was an easy 100 yard hike with a lot of interesting wild flowers.
When we returned from the hike, Babs went into the visitors center and inquired as to where we could get a good panoramic view of the Viaduct and the ranger said “nowhere but you may get a glimpse a couple of overlooks back”. So back we went and the ranger was right! However we did find a place off of the parkway to pull over, cross the parkway and get a couple of panoramic views.
Leaving the Viaduct we drove down the parkway toward the Flat Rock overlook and trailhead. On the way we took these photos.
We arrived at the flat rock trail and the information placard informed us that it was an easy 30 minute round trip hike. We made the first leg in 15 minutes. I had balance problems negotiating the rocks at the trails overlook. That and the subsequent return trail over more rocks slowed us down resulting in a 45 minute return leg. Almost every photo of me is taken of my back because Babs is making sure that I make it unscathed. Along the trail were weird mushrooms, trees with cankers, and trees Babs took pictures of “because she likes trees”
From the Flat Rock, you could get a good view of Grandfather Mountain.
It was past time for lunch so we stopped at the next picnic ground and had a picnic lunch. As per custom, here is our lunch photo.
The day was proceeding just too perfectly! We were just about to turn back onto the Blue Ridge Parkway when Babs asked, “do you have the camera?” I replied, “do you have the camera?” Of course both answers were “no”, so we quickly turned the car around and headed back to the picnic table where we ate lunch and there was our camera.
We stopped at another overlook where we found another short trail. It was only a .6 mile trail to an observation platform. It was a steep trail with natural stone steps. As proffered by the placard it was a great observation spot. From the edge of the stone rail of the natural platform it was a straight drop of over 1000 feet. If you know me, you know I got nowhere near the platform! This is the platform and the photos Babs took from it. Note where I’m standing, holding onto the rail!
Final hike, Mount Mitchel. It is located in Mount Mitchel State park and is reached by a winding road with a 25 mph speed limit which is appropriate. You can drive all the way up except for the last 800 feet to the summit’s observation platform. It is a paved and very steep path. It may have been the longest 800 feet I’ve recently walked. Babs and I both took it slow, I think Babs for my sake. Anyway we made it although, occasionally I had to cup my hands and breath into them to keep from hyperventilating.
It was now after 5 pm so we headed straight to the point on the parkway where we exited yesterday. This completed our total parkway drive from Front Royal, VA to Cherokee, NC. On the way to Asheville, we stopped at this overlook and took a picture of Glassmine Falls.
We are at the Homewood Suites in Asheville tonight. Tomorrow, we will head north toward home.
Babs Says: Walk, climb, slip, and slide. Frank says his muscles are now all fried. The magnificent views were all worth it.