Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Where I've been

Since I want this to be a little bit of a travel bog too, I'm going to start sharing some of the cool places that I've been. It may not always be running related, but you may find yourself in one of these area's one day.

This week's place of interest is the Pisgah National forest. I don't yet understand National Forests and how they decide where the boundaries are. Pisgah seems to be divided up into two different forests, both of which I have spent some time in. However my favorite is the southwestern portion which is connected to the Nantahala national forest, completely separate from the rest of the Pisgah National forest, and again, leaving me confused.

It is this region where this Texas transplant found my most favorite thing about North Carolina. Waterfalls!!!

Hwy 64 (or 276 depending on which direction you are coming from) is where you will want to be. If you are coming from Hendersonville and Brevard, you will stay on Hwy 64 and drive straight into the forest. There are signs that let you know you're there. Once in the forest, this road, which runs along the Davidson River, will have numerous places to pull off and enjoy the view or take a dip. The pic to the right is a cool part of the river that we found. My husband and I jumped off this rock while the kids stayed on the bank throwing rocks into the river. They could do that all day.

When you tire of having your own small, personal spot on the river just get in the car and drive a couple of miles up the road. There you will find a much more exhilarating experiance. Looking Glass Falls is 60 feet of cascading water. The best part is that A) it's free! B) you can swim right up underneath it. I went there twice last summer. Once with my girlfriends who came to visit and then I just had to go back a second time with the family. The pool below the falls is shockingly cold upon first entry and the swim up to the falls is difficult because of the current forcing you backward. Also there is a lot of mist from the falls spatting into your eyes the whole way. When you finally reach the base, you blindly find a rock to secure yourself. Under the falls, you can bask in the glory of your achievement and feel the power of nature as it pounds you with thousands of gallons of water.

And when you're done with that, keep heading down the road just a couple of more miles until you see the signs for the Sliding Rock. This one is more of a novelty. It does cost $1 because they have lifeguards on duty and some viewing decks that probably require some maintenance. Expect to wait at this one. The line is long. It is basically a small, slow moving waterfall on a large, slippery rock. It was fun and definately worth a dollar. How may times can you say that you slid down a waterfall? But if it happens to be closed on a day that you go, don't worry about it. My friends and I missed out because some guy busted his head on the rock just before we got there and they shut it down. Yes, it's slippery, but as long as you're careful you'll be fine. If you take kids, they will love it.

But wait! There is one more waterfall that you haven't been to yet! Whale Back Falls is a lesser known (and lesser crowded!) water fall that is, again, just a few miles up the road. This time you have to get off 64 and take the split that goes to the fish hatchery. Drive to the end, park, and then take the trail that leads out to Whale Back. This waterfall is very small but it's not the size that matters. There is a large ledge from which you can leap into a deep and narrow pool. Before we jumped in, my husband hiked around to the bottom just to make sure we knew exactly where the deep part was. It wasn't crowded and there was plenty of room to sit on the giant jumping rock. I was told that small people can slide down the waterfall but that wasn't happening for me.

Three waterfalls in one day. The best part is that it all only cost $1. After a day of jumping, sliding and swimming you can relax with a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Hwy 64 (or 276) will spit you out at mile post 412.

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