It's only been about two weeks in Asheville and I have been enjoying one of my guilty pleasures: hiking. It's been a long time since I've gone hiking, let alone a good one. My feet were so fresh to it all. There hasn't been a shower I haven't had that I don't whimper in dismay from the stinging gashes on the back of my heels. I have learned a lot within these past two hikes.
**String my boots tighter **Bring more water (purchase a camelback) **Bring "meatier" snacks **Bring an extra pair of socks **Check the weather **Wait at the intersections on the trails **Pee before you leave **Wear a hat **Always wear long pants **It's easier to keep up than catch up
The last one is the most important to me right now. I get so distracted looking at bugs or trying to take a picture, I find myself jogging a while to catch up with the rest of the group.
I have to pause for a moment and give a huge virtual high-five to the groups I have been so lucky to accompany. I have been using MeetUp.com for most of my Asheville activities. It's a website for people to make and join groups who want to hike, debate, learn how to dance, play chess, and whatever else! It's a wonderful way to get integrated into the community and keep yourself busy with things you're curious about or already know you enjoy. I highly encourage giving it a whirl. These groups have been a trip to say the least.
My first hike was on Kitsuma, which is known more as a mountain biking trail. The group planned for a 10 mile, fast paced hike. I looked at the profiles and thought nothing much of it because it was a group of older individuals, men and women in their 40's and 50's. Who would have thought the leader was over 60 and was sturdier than an oak tree. His speed walk was my light jog. I was constantly trying to keep up and adjust to the new elevation. It was a challenge to say the least. Going from flat Florida to vertical North Carolina... it was a body shock. It felt so damn good though! Despite the blisters screaming behind me, I was loving every moment. Little pine cones rolled under my feet; Mother Nature's rollerblades. It was difficult and I can't wait for Shut In trail this coming week. My legs were ready for the hike, but I had a lot of trouble keeping my breath.
Garmin merchandise is a wonderful way to keep track of mileage and progress. I have been so appreciative of the new gadget that was gifted to me for my birthday. It's amazing to look back and check out the elevation of the hike, my cadence, and heart rate.
This past Friday was a moderate hike at Devil's Courthouse located in Blue Ridge Parkway. It's a good hour and a half drive. This was vacation trail in comparison to the prior hike. Depending on your skill level this could have been a little too easy or just enough. I found it a little too easy, but what made it difficult was the rain. It started pouring for the first hour or so, then cooled off to a light drizzle in the end. I was lucky I had a little emergency poncho in my bag. I utilized it quickly seeing as I had my camera and wanted to protect it as much as I could. I wish I checked the weather before leaving. I would have brought an extra pair of socks and a jacket, but I made due with what I had and for the most part it did me well.
You'll cross a few streams along the way. There are high enough rocks to walk over to avoid getting wet. The dogs didn't have any issues diving in. This trail does get very swampy and there is little room to avoid sinking into the mess. There are a few moments where places are overgrown, so baggy pants and shirts are recommended. I wore workout leggings on my hike and got snagged every time we ran into thorns. When the paths weren't swampy there were many rocks present. This made going up and down certain trails very difficult because they were slippery and steep. I was more concerned because I was carrying my camera, so balance and patience was key to making it down in one piece. Halfway on the hike there is path break where you get such a breathtaking view of the mountains. I wish I could have jumped down with out any consequences. I don't have the words to truly explain how amazing it was and then how frustrated I got because I couldn't take a picture wide enough to capture it all. Definitely a moment you'll have to experience yourself to get the hit. Every third of this trail there was a new environment. You would go from swamps and rock climbing, to wide enchanting forestry, and then overgrown areas that resembled the house in Jumanji.
You will hit a magical spot of planted spruce trees on this trail. These 125,000 trees were planted in memory of the Confederate Veterans of North Carolina.
The hike took longer than I expected because of all the breaks for food and regathering, but overall it was a good relaxing truck. It's not going to be a hike I'll do anytime soon, but it would definitely be a nice introductory trail for those visiting the area that aren't everyday hikers. There are some sneaky spots that can easily lead you astray, so I encourage bringing someone along who could be familiar or bring a map. There's no signal, so don't entertain using your phone for guidance. Plus, I would hope the only reason you would have your phone is for pictures. Hiking is my escape from troubles and social media. I only wish the same pleasure for others who get to hike as well.