Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spring Break - Asheville, NC


Within an hour of welcoming a new member to the family I was on my way to North Carolina to play in the mountains along the Blue Ridge and to explore Asheville. A snowstorm had buried the higher reaches of the Blue Ridge just before my arrival, so a wintry element was added to this year's spring trip.

I was able to spend significant time running and hiking along the Mountains to Sea Trail. The MST follows the Blue Ridge Parkway for many miles, undulating next to, below, and sometimes high above or far away from the famous roadway. I began by running up from the Folk Art Center to a knob a few miles away, ascending  about 1400 feet. Near the apex of the run I cleared a knob covered with several inches of snow that would melt almost entirely before my trip was over. The almost always blue and clear sky combined with a lack of foliage to yield stunning views along the trail and across the valleys.

Polar RC3 GPS map of the first run
The MST is accessible at many points along the parkway, most notably where roads intersect the BRP. Due to the snowfall, which reached almost a foot at higher elevations (5K+ ft), many segments of the BRP were closed to traffic. That made my jaunts along the MST a little more relaxing and a lot quieter.
RC3GPS altitude and heart rate data from the lower run
I also spent some time enjoying the great food and music of Asheville while making several new friends. As has become the norm for me, I found a seat close to the stage for live Old Time and Bluegrass music at Jack of the Wood. That music is always a treat for the ears and heart! Having given up beer for lent (???), I settled for well crafted hard apple cider. I also gorged on a super healthy and mighty tasty Grateful Dead Black Bean Burger and sweet potato fries while seated in front of the chef at the famous Tupelo Honey Cafe.  I highly recommend a seat along the bar in front of the busy cook staff as it is both educational and fun.

I also toured the Biltmore Estate again. What a treasure! The history and forethought of the Biltmore family is worthy of getting familiar with. For instance, unbeknownst to guests, an unfinished and long empty room in the mansion was used to "hide" a huge government art collection during WWII. Visitors to the Biltmore Winery should note that they make many great wines, so a well conceived trip would schedule wine tasting with time left over to walk near the river or along a forest trail.

A mini tour of some of the Asheville breweries closed out my trip. Included in this tour were the Green Man Brewing Co, the Asheville Brewing Co, the Lexington Avenue Brewery, and the Wicked Weed. All of these breweries make great beer. Of note, I visited the Wicked Weed for the first time and left with a couple of growlers (lent!!!) because the beer was uniquely superb! I only wish I would have been more creative when asking to take some of their uncannily great tasting small batch beers with me. Those boys can brew beer!!!

There are so many things to do in and around Asheville that it is well worth multiple visits - or even a permanent address. Outdoor nuts, music lovers, and beer enthusiasts might think they getting a sneak peak at heaven.

As usual, here are some of the photos I took along the way. Click and enjoy them. Then make plans for your own visit!

Sunshine and snow!
Melting snow kept the feet wet.
Diverging MST and BRP
Shadows of giants.
Wooden stairway! 
Snow covered stone stairway.

Lovely rugged trail.
Hi! Please shoot me when I come back.
MST trail marker
Well, it just seemed inviting.
So tempted to throw snowballs . . .
Tuckered!
Take Care, Shane

No comments:

Post a Comment