The Weekend of Small Hikes

Collier Cove Nature Preserve

Sometimes it’s good to see what’s in your own backyard. While going all around the world is exciting, I know that I’m missing a lot of opportunities right here around Asheville.

This past Saturday, I was introduced to two small areas around Asheville.

I was invited to  talk about the Southern national parks and my book, Forests, Alligators, Battlefields: My Journey through the National Parks of the South. Am I still marketing this book?” You may ask. No, but if a group asks me, I go.

Bev McD. of Carolina Mountain Club asked me to speak to her group, RossCraggen Woods – a private club with a few acres in Arden. But before my talk, Bev took me to see a view of Lake Julian, a Buncombe County Park and power plant. See the picture above.

Bev also showed me Collier Cove Nature Preserve, another county park. It only has 2.5 miles of trail, or so, with some elevation but it’s meant to be a full-day hike. I never would have seen this without Bev’s help. I always like to learn how the public acquired the land.

Buncombe County bought the 29 acres from the Collier Family  in 2012. They had already built  the trails on the property. Twenty-nine acres isn’t much but the land is steep, adding to the interest.

From Lunch Roks

Every bit of land here was owned by someone.

Sometimes the owners actually give the land to the public. Most of the times, the descendants sell the land, but not at market (read “development”) prices.

Sunday I met a small group from the Raleigh Camino group. They had come for a weekend of friendship, food and hiking with the Asheville Camino group.

Most had done the long Asheville Camino hike on Saturday, so they scheduled a five-mile hike to Lunch Rocks on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Raleigh Camino group

Only four hikers showed up because the rest were still recuperating from the 16-mile hike. But that was OK. The hike to Lunch Rocks, MST east of the Folk Art Center, was just the right length before the Raleigh group started out on their long drive.

I need to have a repertoire of short hikes, close to Asheville because they come in handy.

 

 

 

Storing my hiking stuff

I haven’t written a blog post for over a week because I haven’t been hiking. I’ve moved and  downsized from a house to an apartment.

No more garage or extra rooms. No laundry room with a large sink where I can rinse my boots.

Camping in the past

Where do I put all my hiking and camping stuff?

The minimalist websites that I’ve read don’t discuss hiking gear.

I’ve paired down my outdoor stuff as much as I’m willing to.

I’m down to one daypack, one trekking pack and one backpack. No more extra packs or water bottles for guests. They’re going to have to bring their own gear.

I kept a tiny stove and got rid of the leaky tent that I’ve had since Lenny and I backpacked the A.T. A sleeping bag and waffle pad take up most of the room on the closet floor. My two pairs of hiking boots (high tops and low tops) are on a floormat in another closet. The hiking poles hang from a hook like ornaments.

But all the tiny house gurus don’t say the obvious. If you get rid of equipment that takes up space, you’re giving up the activity as well.

I’m not ready to give up camping with Carolina Mountain Club or with my grandkids. The latter requires three sleeping bags, three pads and a large three-person tent. Plus a cooler, a pot and water kettle…

Hannah’s first camping trip

For the first time, I’ve rented a 5 foot by 5 foot storage unit, the smallest available. The camping stuff didn’t even cover the floor. Now a  storage unit is a very dangerous thing to have. Once you have one, you can keep putting other stuff in it. So far, I’m resisting the temptation.

I’m no longer saving my hiking uniform just for hiking.

I’ll wear my shorts and white polyester shirt, separately and together, whenever it makes sense. I’ve also been reading about developing an everyday clothing uniform, like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have. Same clothes every day – maybe in different colors.

Sign to Muxia

I wore the same clothes on the Camino de Santiago for weeks, and no one cared.

So why not at home?

Another lesson from the Camino.

Friends of the Smokies at Purchase Knob

Fall Trail

The weather forecast was not encouraging today.

However over twenty Friends of the Smokies members ignored the threat of rain and even thunderstorms and went hiking at Purchase Knob.

It would be more correct to say  we hiked from Purchase Knob, home of the  Appalachian Highland Science Learning Center in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Beth R. of Tampa led the group.

The day started out gray but the yellows, reds, green and even brown more than made up for the lack of brilliant sunshine.

We left the Science Center on the Cataloochee Divide Trail, which is the dividing line between the park on one side and private land on the other.

Bill Woody’s cabin

First we stopped to admire the view from Bill Woody’s cabin. If you look to the left of the cabin, you see the private road that allows the owner to get from his house to this tiny cabin.

Gooseberry Knob, at the Swag Resort, allowed us to feel like we were staying at this high-end luxurious mountain hotel.

Since the trail passes by the property, the owners, Deener and Dan Matthews, encourages hikers to stop and sit a while. And we did. See the picture at the top of this post.

Then the climb started to Hemphill Bald located at Cataloochee Ranch, a private dude  ranch. The ranch is managed by the third generation of Alexanders.

To their credit, the owners have protected the property with a conservation easement. Though they can graze cattle and ride horses on the property, they can’t have developers put houses and condos on these high mountain knobs.

Marker trees

We came back down and took a short detour to a Native American Trail Marker Tree. The Cherokees bent back saplings to grow with a curve to indicate a trail marker – like our trail blazes but without the paint.

Here are Jack and Linda under the Trail Marker Tree.

By now, no one knows what “trail” the tree was supposed to mark.

After we returned to Purchase Knob, Ranger Paul Super gave us a short history of the Learning Center and its purpose. You can read more about the Learning Centers here.

Thanks, Beth, for leading the hike.

The next Friends of the Smokies hike will be on Tuesday, November 14 on the North Shore Road Loop. Sign up here.