Posted by: SoccerGirl | October 31, 2011

One Shortcut too many…

Yes it has been a long time since I started the post, life has been busy and finding time to write has been hard,  I find though that the longer I take to write a post the less I tend to write (most of this one was written about a month ago):

Believe it or not I actually made it up to the mountains two weekends in a row!  After my girls’ weekend I made the trek once again, this time with 2 of my friends from here in Raleigh.  It was Labor Day weekend, which for me wouldn’t be quite the same without a trip to the mountains, since we’ve been going up there for the last 4 years or so on that weekend.  We had to wait until a little later on Friday afternoon to leave, which meant we didn’t arrive at the house until after dark.  It worked out pretty well though, since we didn’t run in to any traffic, guess everyone else left work early!  By the time we got to the Blue Ridge Parkway the fog had started rolling in and we drove through some pretty good patches.  After making it to the house and getting everything turned on we spent some time relaxing and fixed a little something to eat before heading to bed.

Saturday morning rolled around and the fog was lingering over the mountains.  We took our time getting going in the morning having a leisurely breakfast of pancakes, fresh peaches and bacon.  Since it was such a nice day we decided to head out for a hike.  There were several options, but we decided to head somewhere none of us had hiked before and settled on a drive down the Parkway to the Moses Cone Park.

Perfect start to a day in the mountains! (click to enlarge)

Moses Cone Manor (click to enlarge)

There are several options for hiking trails at the park as well as Flat Top Manor, which has been turned in to a craft center.  We chose the Flat Top Mountain trail and after consulting the map found the beginning of the trail and headed off down the wide gravel path.  It’s always interesting to hike somewhere new, since you don’t really know what you will see or where the path will lead you and you don’t really even know how long the hike will take you.  As we started up the trail we soon discovered that it was a winding series of switchbacks, and according to the various signs we saw would be about 2 miles to the top of the mountain.  After hiking through a wooded area we emerged out in a field that had recently been cut and big, round bales of hay were scattered about.

Hay! (click to enlarge)

There was a sign for the Cone Cemetery but we decided to save that side trip for the way down.  After crossing the field, we were once again in the woods and keep going up and up and up and up until finally we reached the top of the mountain.  At the top we found a lookout tower and climbed to the very top to take in the view.  It was a pretty amazing view, even though it was kind of hazy we could see Boone in the distance and hear the train whistle from Tweetsie Railroad as well.  After some time taking in the view and snapping pictures we made our way down.  It’s here that the real adventure began.

We made it to the top of the tower! (click to enlarge)

View of Boone from the top of the tower (click to enlarge)

So on our way up we saw signs that said horseback riders couldn’t take shortcuts and had to stay on the trail.  We assumed then that it was okay for people to take shortcuts and we decided to save some time on the way down we would take some.  We found the first one just beyond the lookout tower and single file found our way down to the gravel trail.  From then on we took turns spotting the shortcuts and leading each other down the narrow paths.  All was going well and we cut off a significant amount of time.  Before we knew it we were back to the open field and decided to cut across it as well to visit the cemetery.  After a brief stop at the cemetery, which was really just one huge tombstone surrounded by a fence we continued along the trail to our final shortcut, or what we thought was our final shortcut.  As we made our way down at some point we started hearing cars going by and  saw the parkway below us.  This was decidedly not the way we had come, but figuring that it was uphill to go back and we could see the parkway so we couldn’t get too lost, we decided to forge ahead.  It wasn’t too bad until we got to the end and the drop was pretty steep and only a few feet to the road.  We all made it down in one piece, although there were some scratches, but otherwise we were fine and discovered we weren’t really too far from where the trail had started.  After a visit to the craft center at the Manor we headed back to West Jefferson for a grocery store run and some refreshments at Black Jack’s before going back to the house to make dinner.

Smart phones are handy for finding where you are on a map... (click to enlarge)

Dinner became another adventure as we decided to use the charcoal grill, which was a bit reluctant to get going for us.  The food eventually was cooked, for the most part.  We decided to also light a fire in the fire pit and make s’mores, which we enjoyed during the long time it took our dinner to cook.  We spent Sunday morning relaxing around the house before going to another favorite place to eat, Blue Ridge Bakery & Cafe, which did not disappoint as usual.  We had decided to leave sometime on Sunday since the weather wasn’t supposed to be too good on Monday and we had some things to do back home.  After doing a little mowing (I couldn’t leave without doing at least a little bit of work) we cleaned, packed and left for our journey back to Raleigh.  Another fun weekend in the mountains came to an end too quickly.

Admiring the view during our hike (click to enlarge)

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