Asheville made me do it.

Asheville, North Carolina has been haunting me ever since my time there with Hayley was cut short. So when she texted me saying she’d like to fly out and take a couple of days to explore, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

Hayley flew in to the Nashville airport and we were immediately on our way. It’s not a horrible drive because you have to pass through the mountains, but we were ready to get there. After checking in to our Airbnb, we went for a nice dinner and some live music.

Because the plan was to hike all the next day (obviously), we went to bed early to try and get a good nights rest.

After breakfast at Sunny Point Cafe, we picked up a 6-pack of local beer and headed toward the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to hike the daunting Mount Leconte.

If you’ve been following my blog, there is a common theme of me getting slightly lost at times. Well, I was using the GPS on my phone and when it said there was a faster way to get to the trail head, I figured it was worth a shot. So, we turned down a few roads to hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The only problem was that parts of it were still closed for the season.

No big deal, I kept driving. Thought maybe it would open up eventually.

Nope. I drove along some of the shadiest, curviest, and thinnest roads I have ever been on.

Needless to say, we ended up back where we should have kept on driving, only about 45 minutes later than planned.

When we did finally make it to the trail head, it was quite a bit later than we had wanted to be, especially since it was a 5 mile hike uphill and then we had to trace our steps back after reaching the top.

Daylight was waning, so we immediately started our adventure.

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There are several ways to get to the top of Mount Leconte, but we opted for probably the most popular, via the Alum Cave Trail.

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I think this is what they meant by Arch Rock?

The Alum Cave in itself is a popular destination for hikers, so when we reached that point it was pretty crowded. People were enjoying lunch and taking lots of photos. It was cool, but we were already crunched for time and decided to keep pushing on.

There were several cables on this trail, and although I didn’t think many of the spots were particularly scary, I did snap a few pics to send to my mom…

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As we got higher, the surroundings started to change. It wasn’t a particularly warm day, maybe around 50*F, but we started off the hike in just one layer. Eventually we had to start adding layers again.

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The very last stretch to the top was one of the more difficult spots. It was steep and rocky, plus there was still some ice and snow that we kept slipping on.

But then we were there.

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It was beautiful. I don’t know if all smoky mountain pictures look the same to people that have never been, but I know the difference. And this was spectacular.

We took our photos and cracked open our Perfect Day IPAs from Asheville Brewing Company. Couldn’t pass up a name like that. And they were good!

A couple of guys that were staying at the shelter nearby showed up with their dinner and we chatted a bit before heading back.

We would have loved to have stayed longer, but daylight was not on our side. We spent a good amount of time running back down. In fact, it took us 3 hours to climb up but only 2 to get back down.

It was almost dark when we got back to the car, but we made it!

I drove the (correct) way back to Asheville so we could eat and go to bed. It had been a long day.

The next day after grabbing some local coffee, we went to the River Arts District to wander around.

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If I ever need an album cover…

Eventually we ended up at Wedge Brewing Company, made friends with an eccentric couple from Hawaii and joined them for more beer at the Sierra Nevada Brewery.

Unfortunately, we needed to start making our way back to Nashville. But before that, we had one more hike.

Max Patch is a short drive off of I-40. It was on our way home and one of the shortest but most beautiful hikes in the area. Again, we were racing against the sun, but we caught a few good pics.

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I attempted a few cartwheels.

And then we were on our way.

It was an epic two days, and yet I somehow feel like I’m not done with Asheville yet.

Until next time.

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