Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fog On The Mountain

Originally published in My Trip Journal on August 15, 2011

Our time here on Beech Mountain is drawing to a close.  And that close symbolizes more than just the ending of our time in this place, but also the ending of summer 2011.  Faculty reports back to the Community College where Bill teaches on Wednesday and he couldn't be more excited.  Much as I loved the work I did particularly during the final years of my career, I'll have to say I never would have used the word "excited" when it came to heading back to work after vacation.  But he does love teaching and for that, we are both truly grateful.

It seems each night has gotten progressively cooler with heavy rain showers usually rolling through just before dark and then again at around 3 a.m.  Can't get much better sleeping weather than that!  This morning, we woke up to fog so dense we could not see off the front porch.  In fact, with huge floor to ceiling windows in the main room and the master bedroom, not only did the fog roll onto the porch, but it rolled right into the house.  Pretty cool!  The temperature on the porch at 6:15 was 52 degrees and the last time I checked (around 4:00 p.m.), it was 58.  The fog is not as dense as earlier, but it has never lifted completely.  Consequently, we scrapped all outdoor plans for today and decided to just enjoy being lazy, finishing our books, catching up on internet surfing and taking advantage of our last 24 hours in this wonderful cabin.

On Saturday, we headed into Blowing Rock to scope out the Art In The Park crafts fair which is a long time summer tradition.  We enjoyed meandering through the various booths and saw some pretty things, but realized quickly that the vendors all thought very highly of their products.  I will leave it at that and mention that we came away unscathed!  We enjoyed watching the people and seeing the different items available, but we both agreed that we had been more impressed by the quiet simplicity of the Lavender Farm we visited earlier in the week.

Art In the Park attracts hundreds of people on its own and when you combine that with move-in weekend at both Appalachian State University in Boone and Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, let's just say it didn't take long for us to decide a walk around Bass Lake was more to our liking. Blowing Rock was REALLY crowded. At the lake, we had to wait out an afternoon rain shower, but then managed to get in another lovely walk around the lake.  As I said in an earlier post, it is truly one of my favorite places to walk.  

Blowing Rock is about 1500' lower than Beech Mountain and usually about 10-15 degrees warmer.  After our walk, we were more than ready to head back up the mountain.

Sunday morning, as is our usual practice when away from home, we "attended" our own church's worship service via live webcast and immediately afterwards, headed out for some hiking.  We have not been able to hike as much as I'd hoped while here, so I was determined to get at least a couple of the popular trails done.  We set out to walk the Upper Pond Creek Trail & the Lower Pond Creek Trail.  Neither are long, but with only one car, the total mileage was about four.  Both trails follow Pond Creek (imagine that!!) which after hiking in the Rockies and in my own Smoky Mountains, seemed quite anemic, but we enjoyed the walk anyway.  

The fairly large garter snake that we encountered was totally unexpected however!  With such cool temperatures and at an elevation of 5500', I was truly surprised.  In its defense, it was beside the water and basking on a rock in one of the few sunny spots around.  But why did it have to pick me to torture?  And then there was the grandmotherly type lady standing there with her granddaughter saying, "oh look at the pretty snake - let's see if we can make it move."  I could tell the young girl was about as excited as I was!  We moved on quickly.  Interestingly, we were literally within sight of the car and finished with the hike when this happened.  

Today, we had planned for more hiking.  In 1970, a theme park called Land of Oz was built on Beech Mountain in the hopes of making the area a year round destination rather than just a winter ski resort.  The theme park remained operational for about a decade before disappearing as so many once popular theme parks began to do.  The property is gated and only reopens a couple of times each year for "Oz" festivals and reunions, but just this year, over eight miles of hiking/biking trails have been built and opened to the public.  I was excited to explore this area because of the expansive views to the east.  But with the fog, there would've been NO views at any point today, so we just designated today a day of nesting.  We'll hike in Oz some other time. It's all good!

We're headed home tomorrow.  The journal will probably remain quiet until mid-October when we'll head somewhere for Bill's fall break.  We're already talking about what we'd like to do and I'll start working on that trip next week!  Who knows?  There might be a weekend jaunt or two before fall break! 

Again, thanks for reading!

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