Thursday, October 28, 2010

Autumn in the Mountains {Day 1}

{Psst... Once you're done reading this marathon post, day 2 in the mountains can be found here. Sorry for the photo overload. It took me awhile to upload all of these so I'm sure it'll take awhile on your end, too! I promise it'll be worth your while, just get a snack while you're waiting!} 

Since our future is so up in the air, Matt & I are trying to take advantage of everything North Carolina has to offer. If we could have it our way, we'd relocate to the mountains permanently, but since (sadly) there are no dental schools off the Blue Ridge Parkway, we just sneak up there when we can. This weekend we packed up the Jeep with our camping gear & made the 3 hour drive after work on Friday to Julian Price Campground off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Doesn't our Jeep look like this is where it belongs? I think our car was as happy for a trip to the Parkway as us.
We didn't arrive until after 8 so that meant we had to set up the tent in the dark. It's a good thing we've camped so much that we're pros at pitching our tent now; last year we did it in the dark, pouring rain at Julian Price! After we drove in the last stake, we jumped into our sleeping bags & called it a night. We didn't get much sleep because it was freezing! Our friends in Boone said that it got down to the mid-20s on Friday.... Brrrr.... North Face, are you reading this? Your mummy sleeping bags are supposed to keep us warm to 20 degrees, but we can assure you that they did not! Here we are trying to warm up. When I asked Matt why he was standing on our picnic table, he told me (very seriously), "heat rises." Brilliant... that husband of mine.
As we wrapped up our usual camping breakfast (oatmeal with craisins...yummy & warm), our friends Lori & Dave (and their pup, Riley) arrived. Lori & my big sis, Katie, were college roommates at UF & are great friends. Lori & Dave relocated to NC a few months before we did & we're so thankful to have Florida friends close by! They also love to camp & hike so we were eager to spend the weekend in the mountains with them. After they located a campsite (the campground was packed!) & set up, we hit the trails!
Our first stop was the Daniel Boone Scout Trail, which is part of Grandfather Mountain State Park (but here's a don't have to pay the big entrance fees for Grandfather!). This trail offers beautiful views of the Blue Ridge mountains, valleys & Parkway. The curvy road in the photo below is the Linn Cove Viaduct, an "engineering marvel" of the Parkway. Near the top of the trail, there are ladders/cables to the peak (which Matt & I tackled last year), but this year we decided would be a little difficult for Riley to get up & down so we turned around.
The fall colors were spectacular, but most of my photos are pretty light due to the bright sun, so I increased the shadows this one so that you can see all of the layers of color....
One crazy part of this hike is that there is a plane wreck just off the trail... I read somewhere it's from the 60s or 70s. Not sure why they never cleaned up the wreckage. I guess it stays as a warning: don't fly in fog! (I'll spare you the photos...just kind of creepy). Instead, here's a closer look at the fall colors...
After a quick snack, Dave drove us down the Parkway to Linville Falls. Matt & I have been there twice before, but this was by far the prettiest we've ever seen the falls. The autumn colors were gorgeous, which is probably why we weren't alone (not by a long shot). The place was packed! Here's Lori & Dave at the Upper Falls... such a good looking couple! (If you missed it, here are our photos from the same spot...)
Let me tell you, both couples took advantage of having an extra set of hands to take photos! When Matt & I travel together we get a lot of solo shots. We even found a friendly hiker to snap a group shot!
We had a little photo shoot with Riley, too. She's a 10 month old, Rhodesian Ridgeback/Lab mix...hence the mohawk on her back. Riley's such a sweet pup and a great hiker!
Check out the natural beauty of Linville Falls.The center photo is of the Lower Falls... I am loving that colorful backdrop!
Here's my favorite photo from Linville.'s not even of the falls!
We stopped for some photo-ops on the way back to our campground...
Even though Dave graciously stopped for me to snap some photos, below is (surprisingly) my favorite shot right out of the car window. Have I mentioned, I love the Blue Ridge Parkway?
Alright, folks, I think I'm going to have to cover day 2 tomorrow! I'm worn out from all of these photos... Coming tomorrow: Moses Cone, Blowing Rock, Boone/App State, & quick detour to Winston-Salem!

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