I’m reporting on our Labor Day 2017 trip for a brief escape from obsessing on Hurricane Irma. Karen and I accepted the offer to stay in our friend’s cabin in Lake Lure, NC. We made the 2-hour drive Saturday morning and experienced none of the usual heavy holiday traffic fleeing the city Friday night. After settling into the mountain hideaway we drove to the Pisgah National Forest for a hike to Catawaba Falls.

The “moderately difficult” hike to Catawba Falls is a mixture of huge rocks and steep, wooden stairs through lush vegetation. It was a cloudy and cool day for the trek.

Lower Catawba Falls is a series of cascades. The hike to the upper falls was closed for repairs.

We were congratulating ourselves for navigating the slick rocks and tricky footing encountered on the 2.5-mile hike, when we met this 84-year-old couple at the base of the cascades. Karen told them, “You are my new hiking heroes.”

We diverted through Black Mountain to visit the Pisgah Brewing Company on the return drive to Lake Lure.

The Pisgah Brewing Company was big on using organic malts. Cold beer after a long drive and hiking is an excellent reward.

The dense cloud cover vanished on Sunday and we took it as a sign to climb to the top at Chimney Rock State Park for the views.

This was our third trip to Chimney Rock and we see cool new stuff each time we go. Arriving early beats the crowds and avoids the unbelievable backup of cars trying to get in from noon until closing.

The climb to Chimney Rock is 500 stair steps. It’s more precarious when continuing the ascent to Exclamation Point.

No climb seems too tough if the view is good enough at the top. Exclamation Point is aptly named.

With our morning exercise complete we headed to Hendersonville to attend the North Carolina Apple Fest. There were bands performing on the historic court house steps all day. The streets were jammed with apple lovers. 

The North Carolina Apple fest is over 70-years-old and brother it’s a whopper. Main street and several side streets are shut down. Thousands of folks come out to buy and eat apples of every type and prepared odd ways, like French Fried Apples. Karen loved the fried apple pies.

We took a much needed break from the hubbub of Apple Fest to sample the Apple Fest Special Ale at the Sanctuary Brewery.

A little Jazz in the cool confines of the Sanctuary Brewery was a perfect escape from the crazy crowds in the hot sun on the streets.

The Apple Valley Model Railroad Club was celebrating their 25th year housed in the old Hendersonville Depot.

There were large rooms filled with elaborate, multi-train layouts inside the Depot and more tracks outback with larger train sets. These boys are serious about their toys.

We slept a little later on Monday, but it was another bright and clear, beauty of a day that made us want to do some more roaming in the woods. South Mountain State Park was sort of on the way home and we hit the backroads to sneak up on it.

Karen is ready to “walk softly” with the stick she found. Roots like these made for knotty footing on this hike.

The scenery on the stroll to High Shoals Falls was beautifully ancient, with massive boulders scattered everywhere and tenacious vegetation growing right out of the rocks. Steep wooden steps were set in place where the rocks were just too treacherous to climb safely.

We stopped at the visitor’s center to get a trail map and information prior to making the hike. The Ranger said, “Just follow the parade up and back. You can’t get lost.” He was right, there were lots of folks on the trail, but everyone was nice and courteous.

High Shoals Falls plunged into a boulder filled basin where people ignored the signs and jumped into shallow pools from the rocks to swim.

Having the mountains so close to Charlotte is a real blessing. We plan to visit them as often as time permits. You just never know how long you’ll get to live somewhere before it’s time to move again.






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