Been to the Mountains!

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I know – long time, no hear! My hubby, the pup, and I went to the mountains of northwestern North Carolina… Beech Mountain, to be precise. I was trying to find the coolest place I could out here, and Beech Mountain, NC is the highest point in the eastern U.S., so that will do.

We stayed at the Beech Alpen Inn, and it was a great choice. The dog had a bit of a time getting used to a new location. Let’s just say that she is a creature of habit, and that she doesn’t like to “do her business” anywhere else but in our back yard… Talk about anal retentive!

The first day there, we slept in, and then decided to take a hike on one of the popular trails on Beech Mountain – actually two. We started out on the Upper Pond Creek Trail, which follows a stream, and is fairly easy (although I must say that I am sadly out of shape, so it was not that easy for me!). Still, when we got to the end of the trail, I decided that we should go on and do the Lower Pond Creek Trail, which the literature describes thusly: “While this trail is somewhat rugged and a little difficult in places, most healthy individuals in moderate shape will find it very negotiable.”

Famous last words. Now, in my defense, there was a detour that was not foreseen, and the footing on the last half of the trail was like mulch, but I managed to only fall on my butt once or twice. Still, when we got to the end of that trail, I told my husband that I did not want to attempt the hike back. It had taken about 2 hours to get this far, and I was sure to kill myself or break an ankle on the way back.
So, here was the plan: Wheat was to hike all the way back – via the trail. We looked at out map of Beech Mountain, and it was a maze of confusing surface roads. Rather than get lost, he decided to do the trail. He left me and the dog, and told me that, if I didn’t hear from him in 4 hours, to start walking and find some way to hitchhike back or get in touch with the police. He left me with the rest of the water (he was going to get his from the stream…) and with half of the trail mix, and set off.

After about a half an hour of sitting around (and actually finding the real trail terminus, which looked a whole lot more friendly than the trail we had just done!), I decided to start walking up the road – I was at the dead end, so there is no way Wheat would miss me if he was coming back in the car. Well, I had not gone more than 20 minutes up the road when I saw our little red car driving towards me!

My husband, who is very agile and hikes all the time, had only taken 45 minutes to walk the trail back… without me, the ball and chain. Oh well, all’s well that ends well, even if it bruises my pride.

The other adventure we had was river rafting – also my husband’s idea. I was not so keen because it would entail leaving the dog for up to 6 hours in the room. But our innkeeper, Steve, was nice enough to offer to walk her at least once while we were gone, so I said yes. We decided to go with Edge of the World, the oldest outfitter in Banner Elk.

Let me just say that those guys really work for their money: There was a running patter between our driver, Jack, and his co-hort, Will, on the way up. Lots of bad jokes, and insults toward East Tennessee, Florida drivers, community college students… They were equal opportunity hecklers. More amazing was that they did a whole other show on the way back!

When we got to the river, the Watauga, we broke up into groups, and Jason was our guide. We were on a raft with a man from Athens, GA and his twins – seventh graders (a little preview of my upcoming year of teaching seventh graders…). All of the guides were very competent, but also very insane, jumping from cliffs, paddling whole boatsful of people through the rapids, serving a picnic meal… I hope that my family takes my advice and joins us next summer – it is one of the things I would definitely recommend.

Other than hiking and boating, we did a bit of shopping, visiting The Carlton Art Gallery at Creekside. Toni Carlton’s work is really awesome – I particularly liked her Asian inspired assemblages. I bought a pair of dichroic glass earrings. The last day. I went alone to Foscoe and to Valle Crucis to shop.

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