Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mama Gertie's, Asheville & Chimney Rock

Well, here we are at Mama Gertie's Hideaway campground in Swannanoa, NC, just outside of Asheville, in the Appalachian Mountains.

Lots to show & tell, so its a long one today...We left gently rolling hills in Raleigh/Durham area, and gradually these hills gave way to low mountains, and Gigantor was required to dig a little deeper into that torque band to haul the Whale up and up, eventually cresting out at around 2500 feet. The campground is itself cut into a mountainside. Each site is on its own tier, and often then roofline of the lower rig is about even with the wheels with its neighbor. We are up at the top level, and the grade seems almost impossible, but sure enough, truck and trailer roared to the top. Now our picture window looks out over the campground and the valley. A tiered campground! Who'd a thought? Here you can see us in our parking spot, and see how the campground drops off to the right, and the valley wall rises to the left and behind:

Nearby Asheville has a lot to offer, and lots of good pamphlets to guide you there. The local mountain biking community is strong, so I was able to find an excellent network of trails and go for a good proper mountain bike ride. The trails I was on were not rocky, but lots of ups and downs, and the downs offered a multitude of berms from which to get knarly big hang time!

That was in the morning. In the afternoon we drove to Chimney Rock, about 45 minutes, half of which is on amazingly curvy roads winding first up the mountains to a pass, then back down into the far valley. During that stretch of road the steering wheel was rotated back and forth, passing through but never stopping at center. It reminded me of Maui's Road to Hana, except on a wicked slope. It was fun but intense. When we got to town, we had to drive a similar 3 mile long driveway to the base of Chimney Rock, then ascend 26 stories of wood and stone steps to get to the top. Here is Nancy during the climb up. You can see how steep the stairs are and how they are built along the exposed sheer cliffs:

Watcha you head:

I like to perch myself onto the most precarious outcroppings available:

Nancy at the top of Chimney Rock. It was a clear day, so all 80 miles (I think) to the horizon were visible:

I was very proud of Nancy for making not only this significant climb, her fear of heights notwithstanding, but also for continuing upward to climb an equally challenging distance to the highest overlook, Exclamation Point, which faces up the valley. We ascended more than 400 stairs.

Afterwards, the dogs, who'd been cooped up in the truck, needed a walk of their own, so we all did a short distance, and Toby and I continued on a trail to the base of a 400 foot waterfall:

Here is a view of Chimney Rock on the left (insert your own obscene reference here), Exclamation Point at the top, and a 400 foot waterfall on the right.

It was a great day, and my legs were tired from the ride and the hiking. There's so much more here. Today it rained so we wandered around downtown Asheville, with lots of neat shops and good restaurants. Finally, ethnic food! We had Thai for lunch. Tomorrow we're going to tour Vanderbilt's Biltmore estate and mansion.

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