Adventure in Asheville Part Two
|By: Bluestorm5, 9:21 PM GMT on September 18, 2013||+4|
Hey, guys! Sorry I haven't got time to blog the last few weeks because I've been so busy on campus! We had TS Gabrielle which didn't do much, Hurricane Humberto which became the first hurricane of season few hours before the record for the latest hurricane of season, and Hurricane Ingrid which brought lot of rain to Mexico. To this point in season, the score is 9-2-0 which is pretty encouraging for my lowest numbers of my 2013 range forecast of 14-6-2. I got to say the numbers of hurricanes might bust, but it's too early to see if that's the case for majors. We'll see!
Climbing Toward The Heavens
I was getting little bored on the weekends so I decided to sign up for rock climbing at Gilbert's Rock near Hendersonville, NC. On August 31st, I woke up to yet another beautiful morning on campus and head down to Campus Recreation Center to leave for another trip to the wilderness. There was only 8 of us for the trip so we got to know each other pretty quickly on the way down to the rock, including a German exchange student. This German, who have never been to USA until few weeks ago, was very interesting and fun to talk with. It was really neat to hear how much better America is than his home country of Germany and it made me proud of my country. Anyway, after a hour down on I-26 and on a small rural road, we finally arrived to the trailhead with the wall of rock in sight about 3/4 miles up the mountain.
(About a mile before arriving to trailhead)
The gear was nowhere as heavy as the first hiking trip in mid August and the trail is only 3/4 miles up the mountain. Easy right? Wrong. That hike to the base of Gilbert's Rock was one of the hardest hike I've done and I was very thankful when we reach the top. The trail was one of the steepest I had to hike ever, but looking back to that hike today, I honestly enjoyed it and would do it again.
(I was pointing my camera down about 45 degree angle from level... it's that steep)
(looking up from bottom of Gilbert's Rock)
After a moment of break from the hike while my group leaders went to top of rock via access trail to set the whole thing up, we get ready for the rock climb by putting our gears on and getting instructions. After while, it was time to go. The first climber got on the wall and when he was done, it was my turn. One thing I noticed about the wall is that it was very easy to get a grip with my climbing shoes even though the wall is very smooth. The hard part was finding a small rough patches of wall so I can put my hands on them and use my feet and leg to lift myself. I do have a rope tied to me in case I fall, but it wasn't really used to help you lift so 95% of climbing was just with my hand and legs and some part, I used the support of rope to pull me up some. The first part of wall (about first 50 feet) was pretty tough as it's pretty vertical and smoothest surface of the climb. However, I managed to do it by letting my legs and feet take over the climbing while using my palms to stick to the wall by using the friction. Once the wall start to get rougher and less vertical, I took advantage of it and took a breather. The next 40 feet was the easiest section of the wall as there was rough surface (easier to get grip on my hands and feet) and it didn't take me long to the top 40 feet. The last 40 feet to the top is maybe the toughest part of climb because you are pretty high above the ground and you can feel that there is nothing behind you. It's also even more vertical than the first 50 feet and I really had to use my legs to lift myself. Multiple of times, I almost fell off the wall when my feet slipped but saved it by hanging onto the wall with my hands.
I was already tired, but I was using rest of my energy to finish the climb and I was rewarded with a stunning view once I get to the top. Really, there isn't a top, but the top is where the key chain is located which mean I can't go higher because there is no more rope. Anyway, the views was just amazing and I took out my camera to take the picture (it was crazy considering I still got my back to wall with my feet holding me in place). After taking the pictures, the climb back down was even scarier than the climb up as you got to trust your belayer to lower you down. When I got to the bottom, I was so happy to be back on the ground, but I had to belay the next person even though I was exhausted. After the climber I was belaying for was done, I finally rested on a rock and cooled off.
(What you will see if you're looking down 130 feet to ground. Note my feet trying to keep my body balanced)
(The key chain in which rope go throguh is the reason I couldn't go farther up)
(The view to right of me with my back to wall)
(The view to my left of me with my back to wall)
After all of us climbed one more time, we were all tired even though we didn't have to go back to campus for three more hours. We decided to return to campus little early after lunch was done and while the leaders was on wall removing the rope, we all heard thunders and I pull up my RadarScope app (surprisingly, I still had service out here) and saw a thunderstorm moving into our area. My group leaders was the storm clouds from the wall and we started our hike downhill back to the van. About halfway down, we got hit what I believe is the worst thunderstorm I've been caught outdoor and away from shelter. It was unbelievable how violent that storm was with 30 knots winds, torrential rainfall, many lightning strikes near us, and extremely loud crack of thunders. We were close enough to van to make run for it and not to take a position to avoid getting hit by lightnings and we were all soaked when we got back to vans. On the way back down to Hendersonville, the roads were badly flooded with many puddles and we were thankful the cars ahead of us were stupid enough to tested out the puddles for us. We got back to the campus soaked, tired, and hungry... but we also had many new memories from the trips as well as new friends!
(RadarScope screenshot at 2:56 pm)
(This picture doesn't do this storm a justice)
(RadarScope screenshot at 3:14 pm shortly after returning to vans)
(Apple Festival being delayed in Hendersonville... good apples here in WNC, btw)
(Beautiful post-storm scene travelling on I-26 back to Asheville)
Falling In Love With Western North Carolina
My family came over from my home in Raleigh to see me over the weekend and I took the advantage of the fact they got car so I decided to show them Western NC. My mom wanted me to plan out a hike as well as seeing the waterfalls and viewing the mountains from a great spot. No problem, as I decided to take my family to Transylvania County, The Land of Waterfalls. When I was done planning, my family arrived to pick me up at 11 pm at night and we were off to Saluda, NC to stay in a cabin for the weekend. However, it was a messy night as we arrived to our cabin to find that a guy in a truck was in there already. Not risking getting shot by a stranger, we decided to ask the manager of the cabins and after multiple tries, we finally got the answer. Apparently, this guy might have gone to the wrong cabin so we went to the cabin this guy was supposed to go to so we got lucky we didn't have to find another place that would take the dogs. Anyway, after telling my family the stories of my first month in college, we went to bed at 2 in the morning. The next day, we had a great breakfast and we were off to the first stop, which is DuPont State Forest near Brevard, NC. Luckily, I was able to show my family Gilbert's Rock as well as some Pisgah Forest where I camped the second week of August on the way to falls. When we finally got there, we hiked on a 3 miles loop that is in an excellent conditions and the steepness was not bad either. When we got into the sight of High Falls after a mile of hiking, I was truly blown away by the power and the size of the waterfall as 120 feet tall wall of water was in front of me. It was just one of many beauties of Western North Carolina that I would see that day.
(High Falls from the trail)
We were all in awe and took many pictures of the fall. When it was time, we hiked another mile to another fall which is maybe the most famous one for it's role in a movie few years ago. Triple Falls, a 120 feet total drop from three different major falls, was a background feature of the park to High Falls until "Hunger Games" filming crew came to the park to film some scenes in the park. Triple Falls is where one of major scenes of the movie was filmed, a scene in which the main character Katniss find wounded teammate Peeta camouflaged in the rocks. You can see the scene in the link below:
Youtube video of scene about 1:43 long
Anyway, before arriving to Triple Falls, I took some picture of this beautiful creek and I can only imagine how pretty the area get during fall foliage. After 1/2 more miles of hiking, we went down the stairs from the trail to the area on top of the bottom fall. I was stunned by the beauty of the falls and the rocks. I didn't think anything was going to top High Falls in the area, but I was gladly proven wrong. I took many pictures of the area as well as some rock climbing up the fall to the top. After I was done taking picture, a wedding took place at the top of bottom fall and it was truly a romantic place to get married. It was also the first wedding I "attended" ever so it was truly a honor to watch the strangers and their friends enjoy this beautiful day. We left the falls and made a 1.5 mile hike back to the parking lot.
(Stream with Triple Falls behind me downstream)
(What I saw when I got to bottom of the stairs)
(Picture I took of top falls after I climbed up the rock)
(Picture I took from the trail prior to leaving the area. The group of people in this picture is the wedding)
After leaving DuPont State Forest, we went through Brevard, NC and entered Pisgah National Forest. I was familiar with the area from last month so I show my family where I left the main road for camping trip and also told them more of my stories in that forest. About 5 miles from Brevard, we started to go up in the altitude and I lost phones service as we were deep into the wilderness. After about 20 minutes of beautiful drive through dense forest and rising at the same time, we finally reach Blue Ridge Parkway at border of Transylvania and Haywood Counties. We were about 4,500 feet above sea level at this point and also welcomed to epic views of the valleys from the Parkway. After few miles of Parkway, we stopped at Pounding Mill Overlook at 4,700 feet above sea level and took many picture of the beautiful valley with Looking Glass Rock in the sight. When we were done with the pictures, we continued southward on the Parkway in which we were greeted by legendary Southern Appalachian 6,000+ footer balds. I wish I've taken picture of them, but it was so beautiful with the fall foliage starting to occur there. We finally stop travelling southward at 5,720 feet peak call Devil's Courthouse and we were at the highest point of the whole trip at an overlook just below the peak. According to the sign at the overlook, the peak was named because of a Cherokee legend in which the devil holds the court in a cave on this mountain. This overlook, located 5,462 feet above sea level, was also the start of 1/2 mile trail to the peak. However my family were too tired from earlier to hike and it was getting dark so we decided to leave the overlook after taking pictures and head back to Saluda, NC. After returning to the cabin, I went downhill from there and took a picture of a beautiful lake that became my favorite of the trip. This picture also remind me how beautiful Western North Carolina really is and I'm blessed to go to a university in the area. I'm missing my family already, but I'm glad I am able to take care of myself now in Asheville and I can't wait to share more of my adventures with y'all!
(Sign at Pounding Mill Overlook)
(The view from Pounding Mill Overlook)
(One of those famous steep curves of Parkway)
(Sign at Devil's Courthouse Overlook)
(Devil's Courthouse peak dominating the view at this overlook)
(Picture of a lake in Saluda, NC. My favorite picture of the trip!)
Categories: Asheville, NC Blue Ridge Parkway DuPont State Forest Pisgah Forest Mountains Western North Carolina WNC Saluda, NC Brevard, NC Transylvania County NC Hiking Waterfalls
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Just your typical 19 years old teenager with a high passion for weather and sports :) I plan on majoring in atmospheric sciences at UNC-Asheville.
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