Trombatore Trail: Pretty pastures

The Trombatore Trail is found adjacent to the Bearwallow Mountain trail. The 5-mile trail starts out with a drop in elevation and goes back up on your journey. While it is rated strenuous hike, it is worth it thanks to the Blue Ridge Pastures at the end.

After climbing through gorgeous woods, you exit into an old cow pasture filled with butterflies, bees, and other pollinators that are gathering pollen from the very tall, and very many plants. I was taken aback by the 10-foot tall thistle, as well as the surrounding mountain views. No cows were seen, but we definitely smelled them on the way back.

The trail must be followed back as it does not loop around. You end up going downhill for most of the hike back, but have to hike up and out to get back to the road.

The majority of the trail is heavily shaded, however, it is wise to be prepared with plenty of water. There was a small trickle or water running next to the trail at one point, but I wouldn’t assume it’s always there.

More details, as well as the trail map, can be found via Conserving Carolina’s website:

https://conservingcarolina.org/trombatore-trail/


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Sunset hike, DuPont State Forest

Sometimes you just have to give a place a second chance– or third or fourth. Visit it at the right time and ta-da! Things fall into place.

DuPont State Forest, you finally won me over during the week under sunset light and cool breezes, when very few people were around.

Grassy Road Trail

The corgi and I had gone a hiking hiatus mainly for my own health reasons. The past two weekends though, we’ve gotten up early on Sundays and have checked out the Grassy Road trail in Pisgah National Forest. Getting out has been a breath of fresh air, literally.

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Early morning hikes are my favorite because there’s no one out yet and it’s fairly cool and less buggy. Depending on where you’re hiking, the temperature might stay a little cooler in general. This is the case with the Grassy Road Trail. It’s a cove within the woods filled with rhododendron and running water at it’s base, and varying plants and trees the higher you go.trail3

The trail is one mile and it can be combined with the Sycamore Cove trail and Starens Brand to create a 2.5 to 3.5 mile loop. The Thrift Cove trail must be taken to first get to the Grassy Road trail.

Fox did fantastic for a little guy who hasn’t been out as often as he’s used to, and for a pup that is rocking a double coat in the middle of summer. We had to stop a little more often, but that just allowed more time to go slow and take in everything.
Trail dog

Along the way, we saw a few flowers (which I thought I had missed all the wildflowers for the year!). Animals included a snail, some spiders and ticks, birds, and what I can only describe as a the cries of a distressed baby bear. No bears were actually seen (yay? boo?), and we hustled to hike away from the area.

I can’t wait to see how this trail changes with the seasons. Next Spring, I’ll definitely be searching there for wildflowers.

 

Max Patch in April

The weather was beautiful yesterday, so my friend Katie and I took a drive up to Max Patch. The ride is long and twisty with the last three miles being just gravel (if you are coming from Hot Springs, NC. If you are driving from I-40 on the Tennessee side, it’s more like 6-7 miles of gravel.) However, despite all the rain we’ve had, the road was in excellent condition.

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It was sunny and the perfect temperature, though since it’s a mountain bald, there is nothing to block wind. We were thankful for hoodies to keep warm and cut some of the wind from hitting our ears. After taking in the views, we hiked down along the Appalachian Trail for a bit. Then we hiked back up and had lunch.

As it turns out, Max Patch is a great place for people watching AND for dog watching. Since it’s not a super rugged part of the AT and people drive up there for the view, you get quite an array of folks. Families with kids, people with dogs, thru-hikers, day hikers…

The most impressive person we saw was a 91 year old man with his family. We were eating lunch next to the trail. He had stopped for a breather and was talking to us, trying to get us to guess his age because he was so proud and excited to be out for a walk on the trail. We had actually run into a number of older folks out hiking, which just goes to show that if you stay active and have the desire to get out and do things, you can still enjoy your time. If only we could all maintain health and confidence throughout our lives. It’s important to at least try.

Friends + Goats

When friends visit from out of town, I tend to get to do some things out of thr norm. It’s an opportunity to be a tour guide AND a tourist.

Unfortunately, I keep not taking pictures of friends as I get swept up in thr distraction of visiting with them.

We don’t get too many visitors throughout the year in North Carolina, but our home is always open to people we care about, and we enjoy having the company and temporary change.

Today, I took friends to the Carl Sandburg home to see some baby goats that were born a few weeks ago. BUT two more little ones were born this morning, making the visit that more special.

It was hard to get good pictures of the newborns, but I did get some of the mom and the women who helped. And we found some of the other babies wandering around.

Rainbow Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Rainbow Falls

Every fall since 2014, I feel like I’ve made a trip to see my folks in Tennessee. We go hiking, relax, maybe do some cooking/baking/crafting. A few years ago, we moved closer to them, but I still make the trip to spend time.

Last weekend I had a mini-vacation to hang out with them, and my dad and I were finally able to get a hike in for the Rainbow Falls Trail in the Smokies. We’ve wanted to hike it for a while now, so I’m glad the weather was in our favor. A love for hiking/nature is one of those things that my dad and I share.

The trail is roughly 5 miles up and back. It’s a progressive climb the whole way up with a waterfall (Rainbow Falls) at the end. I wouldn’t suggest it to someone who isn’t up for a wee bit of a challenge. I suck at going uphill and had a rough start, but bounced back after a little while and after taking a snack break.

Me and Pa

The area had been burned a few years back when fires swept through the Smokies. You can see some remnants here and there, mostly just some scorch marks on trees and the larger of the decaying trees still lying on the forest floor, waiting for critters to make homes and for the earth to take them back. The forest bounced back from the devastation and has since filled back in. Trail crews have also been out there doing regular maintenance which includes building some impressive stone stairs.

It’s Always Warmer in South Carolina

Living 20 minutes from the South Carolina border has its perks. If it feels too cold in Hendersonville, we just drive south and instantly gain at least 10 degrees.

Sulphur Springs Trail

Hurricane Michael came up and just missed us, but left some abnormal cold air for this time of year. My friend Katie and I ventured further south to hike in Paris Mountain State Park, just north of Greenville, SC. Warmer temps, many trails, a few lakes… it was a lovely place to visit. We chose the Sulpher Springs loop. It’s one of the longer trails in the park and is ranked one of the most difficult. We tackled it with only some huffing and puffing.

Hiking the trail clockwise, you’ll hit the hikers-only section. It follows a dammed up lake and travels uphill. This section is very rocky and rooted, thus making it the most difficult part. Much of the rest of the trail is smooth going.

If we thought leaf color was a bit scarce in North Carolina, there’s even less down in South Carolina. Leaves are on the ground, but the colors arent appearing, except for this one fabulous little plant.

Fall in South Carolina

I didn’t get too many photos while out there. Just focused on enjoying the hike. Here are a few others though:

The last wildflowers of the season

Wildflowers

The turret holding the mechanisms for the dam.

Dam turret

Dam mechanisms

Water flow from dam

And finally, the best bear warning I’ve ever seen. Apparently things have escalated and they like to hop in cars.

Bear with Me

Filled with fluff and love, a little bear made the long journey from North Carolina to Illinois to meet his new friend.

I used the Magic Loop Teddy Bear pattern by Julie Tarsha, and as one can guess, it calls for the magic loop method. This ended up being a learning experience. I had never used the magic loop method, but it was a challenge worth taking on. The pattern also required a toe up sock cast-on — not something I’m particularly well practised in using. Rather than sticking with my circular needles, I occasionally worked on double points.

Making something with love can sometimes take a little longer than anticipated. I missed my goal of having this little one ready for my friend Julie’s baby shower. As it turned out, little buddy was a month early. Bear was a month late. All in all though, I think they make a good pair!

Somwhere Over the Rainbow There is a Mountain Overlook

If you travel to the town of Beech Mountain, NC and drive to the very tippy top of the town, you will find a trail. This is the Emerald Overlook of Beech Mountain.

Yes, there is a Wizard of Oz theme to this trail system. After hiking for a bit, you will come to the Awesome Oz Overlook in which you can supposedly see the old amusement park, Land of Oz. The park, which opened in the 70s and slowly fell in disrepair, is only open one weekend of the year for a limited amount of ticket holders. But I digress. We probably saw the park from the overlook, but there was no bright yellow brick road. The ever gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains were the emerald beauties of the day.

The trail system is comprised of short trails for hiking and mountain biking, however you can connect the trails for a good long hike with several overlooks. In addition to spotting a bit of Oz, you’ll be able to see the town’s ski resort. And despite being in the woods at the top of a mountain, you will still encounter private gravel roads and some really fancy houses.

We meandered through tall flowering plants, gnarly trees, and rocky spots. Deer popped out of the woods on several occasions. And we came upon several other locals including a happy little lizard and cute fuzzy caterpillar.

As with most mountain locations, I’d imagine this area might be a little difficult to get to if there’s ice or snow. The elevation was somewhere around 5,200 feet give or take 200 more here and there. Regardless, this it is likely to be magical and changing year round.