Courthouse Falls

Thursday September 5, 2019

Courthouse Falls

Aonther gravel road! It is a very slow 3 miles to Courthouse Falls. It was worth it. The falls are beautiful and I am the only one here.

Parked on the side of the gravel road.

I stop again after making it back to the paved road and dig out the gravel from my tires.

Mills Shoals (French Broad Falls)

There are two falls here with an old mill right next to one of the falls. The old mill is now Living Waters Ministry. They allow the public to park on their property to view the falls.

Bird Rock Falls

A short walk down trail you come to Bird Rock Falls. The walk is beautiful along the French Broad River. I wished I brought lunch along with me. There are plenty of rocks to sit on and it is a gorgeous day. There are plenty of places to hop in the water if you need to cool off, but the water is much to cold for this Florida girl.

There is no cell service in the area. I drive a little out of the way toward town to call Jim to let him know I am doing great. Then I head back to camp to plan out the next days adventures. Hopefully without gravel roads.

I do a little reading before bed.

Waterfall bust…

Wednesday September 4, 2019

I wake up with cold feet. Berkley stays in his cocoon until the sun comes up.

It is cool and breezy on our morning walk. We pass a camper guest headed to the bathrooms with a coffee in one hand and a paperback in the other…

Today was a waterfall bust…I planned to go to Eastatoe Falls. It is on private property. And it was closed today. This is what is pictured in my guide book. It looked amazing, but will have to save it for another day.

I have moved campgrounds. I am now further south in lower elevation and it doesn’t feel as cool here.

I had to cross this bridge to get to the campground. Mild panic attach!

I am camped just a short ways from this river and can hear it from the van. It looks like a lazy river that you can float down in an inner tube.

Campsite for the next three nights.

Kara, this one is for you. Had a few of these girls/guys visit me last night. Didn’t notice them until one was standing on my welcome mat! When I look out there are about six of them in my campsite.

Skinny Dip Falls

Tuesday September 3, 2019

Skinny Dip Falls

Well it’s another day of not being up and out early. It is so beautiful here. I’m in relax mode, and it’s hard not to be. We get our normal late start again.

Shortly after getting on the Blue Ridge Parkway, my phone starts to go crazy with message alerts. I have service! Whoowho! I find an overlook and pull over. My first order of business is to call my mother in law. It is her birthday today. Happy Birthday Diane! My in laws live on a boat on the east coast of Florida with Hurrican Dorian barreling toward them. I get the latest updates of the storm from her. It is now down to a class 3 from a class 5. Hopefully will stay off the coast of Florida and not make a direct hit. I pray the storm stays out to sea. I also call Jim and my Mom. Now another 45 minutes has passed, but I’m not stressing it. The falls I want to go to today are only 10 miles from the campground.

Skinny Dip Falls is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile marker 417 directly across from an overlook. I believe it is a side trail off the Moutain to Sea trail that runs paraellel to the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is definitly a MUST SEE! I could have sat here all day long. There are no signs of this being touristy. It seems like a hidden secret. You can also see Looking Glass Rock from the overlook here, but with the sun glare you could not see it well in my photos, so I didn’t include them.

Before I know it Berkley was more than half way down these stairs. I almost had a heart attack watching him. I would always carry him down stuff like this, but he was blazing trail this morning.

I easily find a place to park. There are only two other cars at the overlook. The walk to the falls is easy for an experienced hiker, but for the non-experienced it has some roots, stairs and elevation change. It is shaded and a very pleasant temperature this moring. The first sight of the falls is breath taking. The falls, the color of the pools at the bottom, the surrounding forest makes you never want to leave. It is so beautiful .

Trail to skinny Dip Falls

Graveyard Fields is the next stop, located at 418.8 on the BRP. I pull into a very full parking lot. I manage to find a parking spot, but can’t seem to get this beast into the spot stright. I really need to do some parking lot parking practice. This looks touristy. There are a lot of people here.

Lower Falls

There are two falls here, Upper and Lower Falls. I hike to Lower Falls first. It is beautiful and there are only a few people there. The hike to Upper Falls is almost 2 miles away. Berkley decides part way there that he is done. I pick him up and carry him the rest of the way to Upper Falls. We take a snack break once we reach the falls. Upper Falls is kinds of a let down after all the other falls I have seen lately. The hike getting there is the highlight. There is some climbing involved, but it is easy. The highlight is how shaded and cool it feels, like someone turned on the AC. For the return trip I put Berkley in my backpack that I wear on my front side. He likes to be in the front. I carry him the whole way back.

Upper Falls

We head back to the overlook where I had service this morning. I want to upload my blog, but don’t have enough service for that. While I am trying to schedule campgrounds for the next few nights, Berkley has found a sunny spot in the passanger set and is fast asleep.

We return to camp. I shower and relax for the rest of the evening. I fall sleep before 8pm. Berkley isn’t the only one that is tired.

Another one of my not so good parking jobs. I was lucky enough to find two parking spots side by side at the end of the lot. I passed all the other single spots. I managed to get in mostly in the spot. My right back tire is on the line.

My campsite for the next two nights.

Looking Glass Falls

Monday September 2, 2019

Sliding Rock Falls.

I wasn’t up as early as I wanted to be but it is vacation after all. I’m up at 6:45am and it’s chilly. I head out to walk Berkley and we find a trail along the gravel road we came in on. We head down it for about half a mile before Berkley wants to turn around. It feels so good to be out in nature on a trail again. Berkley seems to be enjoying it to, or maybe it is just the cooler weather. He is moving at a fast clip.

I have my day all planned out there are a few waterfalls along the main road, 276 that I turned off of. I just have to get back there from my 3 miles down this rough gravel road. I know it is a holiday weekend so things will be busy and I am still trying to master driving this van. I’ve already hit a tree branch on this trip in a Walmart parking lot. I wanted to park in the shade and there was a tree branch that was hanging to low for the height of the van. No damage done, but a reminder that you can’t park this big boy anywhere. I hope getting to these waterfall parking areas early they won’t be to full and it will be easy for me to get the van in and out of them.

Sliding Rock Falls.

My first stop is sliding rock falls. Apperently you can slide down the falls on a slick rock into a pool at the bottom. I have no cell service out here so I can’t google directions so going out early will allow me to take my time and go slow. I find it easily. There is a fee $3 per person to enter, but the gate is open and no one is at the gate house. I go in and find the falls. NO one is here and it is beautiful and quiet. I sure am glad I got here early since it looks like an amusment park. I bet this gets crazy. I can see where you can side down the falls with an area railed off to walk back up to do it all over again. I was lucky enough while here to find some signage to the other falls in the area with dirving directions to them.

Slick Rock Falls.

Looking Glass Falls is the next stop, but it is on the opposite side of the road and it is parallel parking only so I decide to continue on to slickrock falls and stop at looking glass falls on the way back. I would have never found slick rock falls without the driving directions listed at Sliding Rock Falls. Slickrock was off of 276 then down another gravel road. I though I had to hike to see the falls but it was very close to the road. There was a hiking trail, up to Looking Glass Rock so we proceded up. It was a nice uphill hike to get the heart going but Berkley seemed pretty winded and with his heart murmur I didn’t want to push him. We turned around before getting to Looking Glass Rock. I believe there is a lookout on the parkway where this can be viewed.

After exiting the gravel road and heading back to 276, I noticed that something sounded funny. I found a pullout and stopped to check things out. There was a lot of gravel stuck in my tires. I thought it best to remove it. I pried it out with the tip of a trekking pole (another use for trekking poles). Funny sound gone. Yea! I fixed something!

View along the Blie Ridge Parkway

Those of you following my blog may remember that I left my trekking poles in Oregon. I had to super glue one of them when it broke and was not longer collapsible and wouldn’t fit in my travel bag so I left them in a hiker box. Plus one of the tips broke off as well. They served me well for probally close to 3000 miles. So I have now claimed my husbands poles. He rarely uses them.

Looking Glass Falls

When I got back to Looking Glass Falls it was a ZOO! There were vicheles everwhere and even parked around the no parking signs! I will admit there were a few parallel parking spots left, but I didn’t want to try and squeese this big boy in those little spots. But within walking distance of the falls I found a pull in spot and grabbed it. The falls were beautiful, but way to may people for my liking.

The ZOO!

On the way back to Pisgah Campgrond, my home for the next two nights I stopped at Pink Beds Loop and picnic and hiking area. We walked for a short spell and headed back to the van. Berkley quickly laid down and was fast asleep. I proceded to make lasagna for my dinner tonight. I pretty much need to have the van running when I use any electrical appliance that draws a good bit of power. So I put my lasagna in the instant pot and would let it cook while I drove to the campgound. This way I wouldn’t have to run it just sitting idle. I put the instant pot in the kitchen sink so it wouldn’t go flying anywhere and headed to camp.

North Carolina

Sunday, September 1, 2019

My travel companion.

I am headed to North Carolina for some day hiking to waterfalls. I didn’t realize there were so many waterfalls in Transylvania County. I overnighted in South Carolina so I didn’t have to do the long drive all in one day. I didn’t sleep all that well last night. I was woken up at 11:15 with the AC spiting ice all over me. I know I heard it cycle earlier in the evening. So I’m not sure why it froze up on me. I turned it off and went back to bed although I didn’t go right back to sleep. Since I wasn’t sleeping I read for a couple of hours. I then woke up at 4:45am to pee and Berkley is just standing by the door waiting for me to take him out. What??? At this hour? Oh well I was up anyway.

I wanted to leave early this morning I still had 5 hours of driving to go, but I took it easy and didn’t head out until 9am. The plan was to go to Walmart and get a fee things I forgot then head to REI for some shopping. I decided to skip the shopping. Berkley was getting restless. He wanted out of this van. I’m not sure he likes it very much. There are so many things that rattle in here and it scares him.

The weather here is georgous, and the scenic drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway is beautiful. I bet I drove though 10 tunnels along the way.

I wanted to take my time and pull over at some of the lookouts, but I was racing to a campground on the slim chance that I could get a walkin site. On the drive up to the Pisgah National Forest I called the campground where I have reservations for the next two nights to see if there was anything available for tonight. There was one walk in site, but it was gone by the time I got there. My next plan was a dispersed camping area about a half hour away down a dirt road. I was so stress trying to find it, because I no longer had cell service to google the address. Plus I was drving so I couldn’t look at a map. Luckly I looked at it pretty good at the location at home and had an idea where it was. I found the dirt road and there was a sign a the begining of the road stating that the areas that I could camp in are marked. Yea! I found it! I knew there was a horse camp 3 miles down the road then the sites I was looking for would be after that. This was a pretty rough single lane dirt road with a lot of traffic. I was shocked at the amount of traffic that I was running into. After going another 2 miles and only seeing 2 campsite that were already taken, I stopped and asked an approaching car if there were any open campsites down the road. They confirmed that they were full and there were also some illigal camping as well. Shit!

One lane gravel road.

I decided to turn around and go back to the horse camp and stay there. It looked like there were some open sites when I went by. So I mange to turn my van around on a single lane dirt road without going off the side of the mountain. As I enter the horse camp I notice a sign that said the area is for resrvations only and there was info posted at the vault toliet area. There wasn’t much info at the toliet except that is was $10 a night. I wished there was a drop box I could just put the $10 into and be done with it or reserve a site online but I don’t have service. There were numerous sites open so I decide to stay. It was already 4 pm so I was hoping no one would be driving in with a horse trailer this late. I’m not that lucky. A truck and trailer pull in at 5:30pm into the site next to me. I hope I am not in their site. Another camper truck pulls in at 6pm, but I get the feeling they are doing the same thing I am.It’s not my first night of illigal camping. But this one definitly come with a price or I should say SMELL and it’s not a fresh forest smell!

Hopefully I sleep well tonight. I picked up a 3″ foam mattress at Walmart today and I is currently 65 degrees. No AC needed.


Saturday August 31, 2109

As hurricane Dorian (catgory 4) barrels toward Florida. I prepare for vacation. I have the holiday week off. I chose not to worry about something that I can do nothing about. Life is too short not to enjoy it. Jim, who usually works all holiday weekends decides to stay home to help our parents in the miniscule chance that they MIGHT need help with anything during the storm.

The bad weather has caused all of Jim’s charters to be rescheduled. He has the holiday weekend off, he chooses to stay home to help friends and family. I get it, he has a huge need to help others, but he never has a holiday weekend off. It’s a huge blow to my heart.

Public Transportation

Thursday July 25, 2019

I sleep in this morning until 6:05 am in a comfy bed. I lay around while SHORTCUT gets ready to head out. She will continue on without me. I eat cake and cookies in bed while updating my blog and forget to take my thyroid medication. I’m out of my routine this morning.

It’s 10:15 before I know it and my bus leaves in half an hour. I quickly get ready and make it to the bus with 60 seconds to spare. My heart is racing! I’m scared. I don’t normally travel alone on public transportation. I have to take three buses and a metro to get to Portland. Then once there find a way to get to the hotel. My flight leaves at 6:15 the next morning. Hopefully I can get an early morning shuttle to the airport from the hotel.

Me feeling sick on first bus ride. I was so scared.

The scenery on the bus is beautiful as we head down from Timberline Lodge. Through the mountains with roadside waterfalls along the way.

I calm down after my first bus ride and my heart rate returns to normal. The rest of the ride is uneventful, and not much for scenery. It is mostly through towns now.

After the last metro ride I get dropped off a mile from my hotel. I will walk the rest of the way. There is a Target store where I get dropped off. I go inside to get a salad for dinner and some hygiene items to clean up this hiker trash body of mine. I get nail clippers, nail file, deodorant and a hair brush. Plus a little surprise for Berkley.

I get lost in the Target parking lot! I’m not sure which direction to go to the hotel. I find someone to ask and I am on my way.

Pretty walk to the hotel.

It takes 4 hours on public transportation and $8.00 to get to the hotel which includes my shopping time and getting lost. I am pleased that I made it. I just had to ask bus drivers and locals for help.

I check into the hotel. It is the cheapest one I can find with a shuttle to the airport in the morning and it still cost $183.

Once in the room I eat lunch/dinner. Then start to get cleaned up. It takes me nearly an hour. My feet and nails look so much better.

All cleaned up and looking much better!😊

Little Crater Lake

Tuesday July 23, 2019

20.2 miles

We took a side trail to an artesian spring. It was so worth the trip. I though the other lakes and ponds were clear it was nothing like this one. It is 44 feet deep and you can see all the way to the bottom. The color is unlike anything I have ever seen before.

We had another easy terrain day. Mostly flat and shaded. With pretty good temperatures.

Morning second breakfast break.

Old PCT trail maker.

We had trail magic in the middle of the afternoon. It was an awesome setup with make your own sandwitches, soda and snacks. I had a turkey and cheese with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mustard. As well as two homemade brownies. I also took one flavored drink mix to go.

Trail angel Connie. We leave a donation to help cover expenses. She is so sweet to do what she does. She sets up for a couple of weeks here feeding hungry, dirty and smelly hiker trash.

I have a toe that has been bothering me the last few days and today when I looked at it I realized that I had a blister. I used the needle from my sewing kit to pop it and reapplied some tape to it. SHORTCUT also gave me a sleeve to put around it to help ease the pain of it rubbing.

Tomorrow will be my last day on trial. We will be arriving at Timberline Lodge (as ski resort). I will get a shuttle to take me into Portland and I will fly home. I was originally not flying home until next Monday, but I had Jim change my flight so I can arrive home and spent a few days with him before I have to go back to work.

The blisters on my hands are feeling better, but have really gotten red. Hopefully that heals before having to go back to work.

My trekking pole is still holding up. That is some super glue job we did in it! They will go into the hiker box at Timberline Lodge when I get there. Hopefully they can help another hiker.

Just for fun…my feet AFTER I cleaned them trail side. They could really use a good cleaning! I do have a blister. I pop it with a sewing needle add some tape and a toe sleeve that SHORTCUT gave me.

Trail Angel Connie’s dog.

We didn’t see any snow on trail today and the mosquitos are still present but not terrible.


Monday July 22, 2019

22.6 miles

I woke up this morning thinking I would have a lot of condensation on and in my tent, because I slept in a grassy meadow. But there was just some light condensation in my tent.

Today was an easy day as far as terrain goes. It was mostly flat, shaded and easy walking. We walked through a burn area that was sunny and hot but it was pretty short. For the most part it was a really enjoyable day as far as temperatures go.

We stopped in another camping resort early this morning so SHORTCUT could pick up some more food and refill our water bottles. They had some chocolate milk and oreos that I couldn’t pass up so that was my second breakfast. As we were leaving we were offered some trail magic of breakfast sandwiches and fresh fruit. We only had some fresh fruit since we had just eaten.

Snowy passes and frozen ponds

Sunday July 21, 2019

20.4 miles

We are up early and out of camp. I find a windy cliff and let my unwanted food blow away in the wind. Definitely not LNT (leave no trace).

We have one dangerous creek crossing. Whitewater Creek and we both make it across without being swept away.

It was a hard day today. Lots of areas exposed to the sun. I started out wearing my rain pants to protect my legs from the sun, but it was just to hot to wear them all day. So I had the brilliant idea to wear my sun sleeves on my legs and a pair of latex gloves on my hands to protect them since I was no longer wearing the sun sleeves on them. It worked out really well. I’m making a fashion statement on the trail again. I also used my umbrella to protect my arms as much as I could.

We had a lot my snow patches to cross in the Mt. Hood wilderness. It was really beautiful, but was just so sunny, hot and slow going.

The trekking pole that I super glued is still holding up. 😀