Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mount Mitchell NC

After our out-of-car foray at Craggy Gardens, we continued north on the Blue Ridge Parkway in search of Mount Mitchell. We decided to drive to the parking lot just below the summit rather than make the long, arduous hike up from the bottom. The drive up from the parkway was surprisingly long. Once again climbing, we quickly found ourselves in spruce-fir forest with lots of moss and lichen. The microclimates on the top of these high peaks are pretty interesting.

Annie Looking Over the Observatory Railing at Mount Mitchell

Pretty Fancy Survey Marker

The Obligatory Sign Shot

Looking North and Down on Mount Craig, Second Highest Peak in the East
While I was up top, I shot a 360-degree view of North Carolina and Tennessee from the summit.


The Mosses and Lichens are Natural Poetry

A Raven Kept Us Company at Mount Mitchell

Ravens are Notoriously Tame and Playful
Our plan was, after seeing Mount Mitchell, to get some lunch in nearby Burnsville and drop in to see our friends Neil and Kay. But it proved that were really hungry, so we thought we might just grab something quick at the restaurant where we parked, but a sign on the door announced that it doesn't open until May first. Damn! It was April 28th.

We didn't really think things through enough to realize that there's no good way off the Parkway at that point to get to food. Though as the crow flies, Burnsville is about 10 miles away, the Garmin was saying that it was an hour to either Burnsville or Black Mountain and that each would still be an hour from Asheville. So we decided just to drive the 45 minutes back down the Parkway to Asheville and eat lunch there.

About halfway back, coming down from the Craggy Gardens picnic area into lower elevations where the trees were starting to leaf out, Ann asked me about a flower she was seeing in the woods but which I couldn't see on the roadside. After a couple miles we managed to find a shoulder wide enough to park on close enough to a patch of these flowers. When we walked back and up into the woods a bit, we were staring open-mouthed at an entire hillside of geraniums and trilliums in full bloom. I don't know enough about trilliums to be confident in identifying these. These might all be Trillium grandiflorum as they are all growing together, but I couldn't say.

Masses of Geraniums on the Roadsides

Pink

Wine-Colored

White
When we had nearly retraced our route in reverse, we asked the Garmin for nearby restaurants and saw HomeGrown about which we had read, whose slogan is Slow Food Right Quick, and which is a pioneer in the Asheville local food scene. Ann got pan-fried trout with saffron aïoli, sprouts, pickles, and pickled onions. Trying to save room for dinner since it was already mid-afternoon, I ordered a watercress salad with pepper-candied bacon, red onions, pickled watermelon rind, farmers cheese, and strawberry vinaigrette, a daily special.

Watercress Salad

Rainbow Trout Sandwich with Fries
While we sat outside and waited for our food, we tried out a local cider and a local pale ale. I noticed that almost everyone at the place was drinking Shiva IPA from Asheville Brewing. It's a decent IPA. Nothing to shriek about, but it drinks easily enough.

Local Brews

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