Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Weekend Getaway to North Carolina

With my departure to South Africa looming ever closer on the calendar, it seemed like the perfect time to take a quick break last weekend so off to North Carolina we drove.

Our original plan when booking a weekend getaway in Asheville was to go skiing nearby. However, as the date approached, that idea was quickly put to rest. Even with snow making facilities in place, when the temperature is most unseasonal, by noon you're dealing with slush on a slope. So instead, we made the most of the 75 degree weather (take that global warming naysayers) and hiked to Chimney Rock. As an added benefit, the hike gave me an opportunity to try out my new hiking boots.

The drive from Asheville to Chimney Rock is incredibly pleasant. We made our way from the city through pastures of cattle to winding mountain roads, which are home to some charming communities, and a good deal of new environmentally-minded development (solar panels, local materials, etc.)

View from Chimney Rock
Deciding against the easy option of driving to the top of the mountain, we enjoyed a peaceful hike, followed by what I can safely say is my first ever elevator inside a cliff to reach Chimney Rock itself.

Chimney Rock
Once we reached the top, we were surprised to find quite a few people, all taking advantage of the weather no doubt.

Incidentally, movie buffs will be keen to interested to learn that Chimney Rock was a filming location in The Last of the Mohicans (1992). Pictures of Daniel Day-Lewis on set can be seen in the gift shop.

Furthermore, romance classic Dirty Dancing was also filmed near here at Lake Lure (which you can see from Chimney Rock). So if you dream of reenacting a little Patrick Swayze - Jennifer Grey dance magic, you can head down to the lake and get your groove on (although I suggest you wait until summer).

While you're at the top, don't forget to visit "the Opera Box" where you can look at an outcropping known as Devil's Head.

Devil's Head

Several of the higher trails were closed for winter maintenance so we were unable to hike any further. After a pause to admire the view, making friends with a bulldog, and a drink, we started the hike down again.

Once at the bottom, we decided we had earned an ice cream and as luck would have it, there was an ice cream store open. 2 scoops of Muddy Sneakers for me please - yes, that is a real flavor, and it is GOOD!

I can only imagine how busy this area must get in the summer, with hikers, climbers, and boaters, not to mention those seeking to reenact their favorite movie scenes.

No sign of any Dirty Dancing at Lake Lure in January.

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