Along Interstate 26 heading to Asheville.
Our lunch stop at the NC Welcome Center
Driving from Columbia to Asheville yesterday, the anticipated arrival of a cold front was right on target. The rain washed the smashed bugs off the windshield and the pollen out of the air and off the vehicles (thanks to our friend Barry for this link about how bad the pollen is this year). The temperature plummeted. We threw an extra blanket on the bed during the night, and it was 38 degrees when we got up this morning. The sky was blue, the sun was soon shining, and we thought we had a perfect day for driving and hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Until we stepped outside!
We’d already forgotten what cold felt like, but the wind slapped us in the face with a reminder. Now, we’re at around 2,000 ft. elevation, and the high point of the drive we planned to take is at 6,000+ ft. elevation. Cold here, freezing and miserable there?? We decided to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center, pick up some info, and revisit our plan.
Well… what a disappointment! Due to huge storms here in December, long stretches of the parkway, especially heading north, are closed. Our volunteer informant told us there are trees down the on the parkway, with no estimate of when the various sections will reopen. :( The better news: there is a long section of the parkway open to the south.
Since the weather hadn’t warmed appreciably, we decided it would be prudent to hike at the lower elevation. We drove a short distance to the Folk Art Center (fabulous, fabulous, fabulous arts and crafts), where we picked up a trailhead. We started uphill almost immediately, and soon were shedding gloves and scarves, wishing we could shed the fat reserves we’ve packed on during our culinary tour of the south. Yes, the fried chicken has come home to roost!
Once we got back to the car, we headed to the Asheville Visitor Center to orient ourselves for the next few days. A LONG chat with the knowledgeable staff helped solidify our plans: a drive south on the Blue Ridge Parkway tomorrow (with hiking); a walking tour of Asheville on Sunday; and we decided to spring for tickets for the Biltmore Estate on Monday. Why be cheapskates when we might not ever get back this way?
It was a long day, and felt good to get back to our home at Mama Gertie’s Hideaway (click here to read our review), a little gem of a campground around 8 miles east of Asheville. Our site is high on a terrace at the very top of this hillside park, very pretty. For entertainment, we’ve watched two BIG 5th wheels park in sites near us, and now have the Masters tournament on. Another excellent day. :)