Venture Out - Cudjoe Key

Venture Out - Cudjoe Key
Fox at Quail Run

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mount Mitchell State Park

Candler, North Carolina (high 72, low 54)

On Thursday, we started our day on the Blue Ridge Parkway, at a Visitor center, and after a short visit there, a few miles further was the Folk Art Center. Local artists sell their wares, and there were some beautiful  items for sale.  There was a gorgeous quilt on display, but unfortunately they didn’t allow photos.  One  man was there making the nicest little whisk brooms.  They were really well made and I appreciated the fact that he made them by hand, but I decided not to pay $20 for a whisk broom.  It was a wonderful place to see local hand made crafts, but we left without buying any of the treasures.  One thing about living in a motor home, is it keeps you from buying more “stuff.”

Some parts of the Blue Ridge have more visitor centers and places to stop, but many areas have only scenic over looks.  Restroom facilities need to be visited when you find one, because you might not find one for quite a while.  This part of the parkway had a lot of visitor centers in one area, so stopped at them all, not wanting to miss anything.  After our first few trips on the Parkway, we broke down and bought a $10 map.  There are a lot of free ones, but they don’t give you the mile markers,  any of the roads to exit the parkway, or all the special places along the road.  It was a good investment and one I’d recommend.  It’s nice to know the quickest way to exit the parkway.  Just a reminder…don’t exit on Highway 151, unless you’re real brave!   One more reminder, is start with a full tank of gas.

I wrote about our stop at Craggy Gardens Overlook in the last post.   After we left there, we headed towards Mount Mitchell State Park, which wasn’t too far.

You have to leave the Parkway and head up the mountain to get to the park.  I was worried that the road up would be a narrow, scary, gravel road, but it wasn’t.  It was actually a very good road….except when we saw the 40 foot diesel pusher coming back down.

on the way to Mt Mitchell, highest elevation east of the Mississippi

We started the ascent at over 6000 feet elevation.  That was the highest we’ve even been at that point!

 

Not long after beginning our ascent up to the park, we started to notice the wonderful, sweet fragrance of the Red Spruce and Frazier Fir trees.  They are the most beautiful trees.

I wish I could bottle the wonderful fragrance.

Hike to overlook at Mt Mitchell

Unfortunately, for whatever reason the forest is dying.  Some are saying it is air pollution and acid rain from the factories in the state.  Others are saying it is a little insect called the Balsom Wooly Adelgid.  Many of the larger trees have died and it’s truly a shame because in my opinion, this is one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever seen.   They have been spraying some sort of horticultural oil on the trees and we saw a lot of younger trees, so maybe that’s a good sign.

overlook at Mt Mitchell 6684 ft elevation

Oh….the fragrance.….try to imagine!

Aren’t these the most beautiful trees?

gorgeous fragrant trees at Mt Mitchell

This is not your normal state park. The highlight seems to be the scenic overlook.  There is a restaurant and a snack bar, and  9 tent camping sites, but no rv sites.  Not sure I’d want to take our motorhome up the mountain anyway.  Smile

There was a sign saying “fee area” ahead, but we never found a place to pay or any type of gate.

We parked the truck and then walked the steep path up to the scenic overlook.

In the picture below in the upper center, you can see some of the dead trees…..but this area was particularly fragrant, and while I was gasping Smile for air, I was enjoying the sweet smell.

Hike to overlook at Mt. MItchell

Since we started this uphill climb at over 6000 feet elevation, we could really feel it.  There were benches placed all along the path.

overlook at Mt Mitchell 6684 ft elevation

We finally made it to the top. This will be the highest point we will be until we head west.

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The view from the overlook was spectacular, but like any area that’s so large, it’s very hard to capture it on “film.”

overlook at Mt Mitchell 6684 ft elevation

The dark areas were from the clouds above.

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overlook at Mt Mitchell 6684 ft elevation

It was a little cool  up there.

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You could see for miles in all directions and it was all gorgeous.  North Carolina is truly a beautiful state.

overlook at Mt Mitchell 6684 ft elevation

We reluctantly left the overlook and walked back down the trail to the parking lot.  I took a few minutes to try to burn that memory into my brain…. the sights and smells.   I think I will need to go back there again before we leave though, just to be sure I can pull up that memory whenever I want to.

Despite all the dead trees, it’s still a magnificent place and one well worth the trip.

When we left, as usual,  we were nearing the end of the day, we were in the middle of the Blue Ridge Parkway, not near the road off of the parkway, so we decided we’d better head home.

I think this was the best day we’ve had since we’ve been in North Carolina.  Craggy Gardens and Mount Mitchell….what a day.

12 comments:

  1. We thought North Carolina was a fabulous place to explore. Now we're sure! Can't wait to go there!

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  2. North Carolina is a very diverse state. :)

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  3. Awesome header photo.

    Oh I do remember how good it smells up on that mountain.

    The day we were up on Mt. Mitchell it was freezing! The fog was everywhere and the wind was whipping everything around. Glad you had a clear day.

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  4. Love Love Love the scent of pine trees...one thing I'm really looking forward to in Maine next summer! There was a ton of damage to the Ponderosa Pines in the Black Hills by beetles... really sad.Those heights do leave you gasping until you acclimate. I told my Al Florida is going to seem really flat this winter!

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  5. Looks like you had a great day...glad you enjoyed it and thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures.

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  6. Thanks for the great memories of the smells. Sure wish I were there. You sound just like me in wanting to come again to so many places you have been. How will we ever have time to do everything and then do it all over a few more times? :-)) Really fine pictures Karen.

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  7. I'm in Florida now and you have made my heart ache for the NC mountains. Thanks for the beautiful pictures.
    Syl

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  8. Great pictures as usual Karen. Mt. Mitchell and the entire area accessible via the BRP is beautiful if you can be there on a clear day. What luck!

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  9. Beautiful photos! That was some view from up there and I'll bet you were gasping after that climb. Looked to be well worth it though.

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  10. Your pic of the Blue Ridge Parkway sure make me homesick for VA. Judy and I live at the base of The Peaks of Otter near Bedford VA along the BRP.

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  11. You are there at the right time of year, those leaves are just turning now. :c)

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