Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Chimney Rock

Donna and I recently visited Chimney Rock Park near Asheville, NC; it is named for a 315-foot-tall granite structure that resembles a chimney. It's been on my list of places to visit for some time, and it recently came up in conversation at work, so I decided now was the time to go!

The first thing we did when we got to the park (after using the rest room :-) ) was hike a 3/4 mile trail to the base of Hickory Nut Falls, a 404-foot high waterfall. If you've seen the movie The Last of the Mohicans, the dramatic waterfall scene at the end of the movie was filmed there.

Some shots from along the trail leading to the waterfall:

I always really enjoy the moment when, during a hike out to a waterfall, I hear the first sounds of it and know I'm getting close.

A fellow visitor kindly offered to take our photo.

I decided to go in for a closer look; the cool spray felt really good on the hot day!

Once back from the waterfall we ascended Chimney Rock. There's actually an elevator that will take you to the top, but at the time we were there, it was stuck with people trapped inside it! So, we hiked the strenuous trail to the top; the extra effort made the view from the top all the better. Fortunately the folks got out, but at the top, so they had to hike down. Going down is certainly easier than going up, but it's still no picnic, and some folks weren't wearing the proper footwear for that type of terrain, but I think everyone made it down without incident ... all but one woman, who was shaken up pretty badly; I guess she had a panic attack; paramedics were brought in to assist her, and since the elevator wasn't operational, they had to ascend the mountain via the trail carrying all their gear. It was tough enough hiking up with no gear! The elevator was not going down anytime soon, so they had a specialized gurney with a huge pneumatic wheel that they were going to use to try to get her down.  The park stopped allowing people to hike up, so the paramedics would have an unobstructed path for their descent. So, our timing was good in two ways: we didn't get stuck on the elevator, and we were able to hike to the top before it was closed. Crazy day at the park!

Some views from along the trail and from atop the chimney. This formation is pretty cool; it resembles a face, sort of like the old man of the mountain in NH.

Couple of lizards we encountered along the way:

After leaving the park we explored a few shops in the city of Chimney Rock. We bought some fudge, Donna bought a set of nesting dolls for a friend's birthday, and I bought a giant Asian fan to hang on the wall in my bedroom.

The river that feeds Lake Lure runs along Highway 64 through town, so we went down to it and wandered along it for a bit.

Hickory Nut Falls as seen from Highway 64.

And, what would a road trip be without eating at Cracker Barrel? So we ate at the one in Carl Sandburg's hometown of Flat Rock before heading home. It was a very good trip, and I would love to go back sometime. There were a couple of trails that were closed for maintenance, including one that ascends to the top of the waterfall, so I'll have to go again sometime and check those out.


At Wednesday, July 07, 2010 2:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that area and Chimney Rock is an awesome place to spend the day. There are a lot of nice little stores on that highway that are great to stop in as well. You have inspired a mountain excursion! Great post!

At Thursday, July 08, 2010 10:09:00 AM, Anonymous Willy said...

I love the green lizard. He looks sassy!


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