Thursday was the whitewater rafting group outing, which Tom and Bryce were going on, so when Nancy and Bill planned a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway with visits to the Visitor Center and Folk Art Center, along with a couple of short, moderately difficult hikes, I signed on. Don and Lois went, too, so I rode with them.
(About half of the pictures in today’s post are from Nancy – she was gracious enough to share her pictures with the group!)
Our hiking group met at 8:30, which was no problem for me since I was up with the guys at 5:00am!
Waiting for our last couple to join us!
We took I-40 to the “beginning” of the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Asheville, where the Visitor Center is located.
In the Visitor Center, we checked out the displays,
including some of the interactive displays,
and watched the movie that highlighted the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway and some of the history and culture found along the 400+ mile-long road.
The movie focused on several of the local craftsmen in the area, including this quilter – I just had to take a picture of the screen for my sisters. Check out her fabric collection!!
From the Visitor Center, we continued to the Folk Art Center.
Inside were displays of the works of many local artisans – quilters, furniture makers, painters. So many beautiful things!
Photography of the artwork wasn’t allowed, but I did get one quick picture from the upper level.
Nancy got a picture of the group as we left the Folk Art Center.
After the Folk Art Center, we made our way up onto the Parkway.
Bill & Nancy were in the lead, and suddenly came to a stop. There was a bear in the middle of the road!
We could see it from Don’s truck, but couldn’t get a picture of it before it ran off into the woods. Nancy got some great shots, though!
We continued up the Parkway until we reached the location of our first hike, Craggy Gardens, at 5600 feet. It’s been awhile since I’ve hiked at any kind of elevation, and I could feel it in my lungs!
After a quick stop at the little Visitor Center,
we all grabbed our packed lunches and headed up the trail.
We were walking through a tunnel of rhododendrons, which was pretty cool – and in a few weeks when they were in bloom, would be incredibly beautiful!
I did find a few flowers in bloom.
We made our way up through the tunnel,
until we reached our lunch spot – a picnic shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
Nancy got some nice pictures of all of our hikers.
Dan & Tricia
Don & Lois
David & Sharon
Bonnie & her husband
and our fearless leaders, Nancy and Bill . . . and Walt!
So, we enjoyed our lunch and enjoyed the view. We could see some people off to the west – way up on top of a rock . . . little did we know, that was our next destination!
Back at the parking lot, we re-grouped, used the bathrooms,
and got ready to move to the next hiking location.
It was just a short drive a little further up the Parkway and through a tunnel, to Craggy Dome.
We gathered for a group picture.
Then it was time to head up the trail – we weren’t wasting much time, since some dark clouds were moving in!
There were interesting trees,
and rocks to climb over,
and plenty of places for photographs!
Awww . . . such cute couples!
We continued the climb,
and the views just kept getting better and better!
The guys like the view from the top of this boulder.
Don got a little excite when he saw them up there, and decided to scramble up the side of the rock!
He really didn’t need to, though . . . the trail looped around and up, to the top of the rock!
We reached a clearing, and the views were remarkable!
There’s the roof of the shelter where we had eaten lunch!
We only had a little bit more of a climb to get to the summit!
Some of our group was already there!
That’s the rock that we had seen people on earlier – now we know how they got there!
We made it to the summit!
Now it’s time for another group picture . . .
The rain was getting close, so we began a quick descent!
We had just started down when Nancy said, “Oh, I forgot to take a panoramic shot – be right back!”, so I’ve definitely got to include those!
What an amazing view!
The photographer poses for a picture on the way back down!
The rain was just getting started as we got back to the trucks, so we quickly got in and made our way back down off the mountain!
Another great day with a great group of RV-Dreamers!