Today is the day that we woke up to leaf season in Asheville North Carolina! Yes, the leaves have been changing here and there lately, and a little on the slow side. But this morning you can see the vibrant colors coming on display and the leaves covering sidewalks all around town. Leaf Season has officially begun here is Asheville, so for all of you leaf peepers, this weekend on the Blue Ridge Parkway will be beautiful.
Remember, we do not know how long these beautiful colors will last. Last year a storm came through only a week or so into it and stripped the trees of its leaves and colors. So catch it while you can, take photos, make some memories, and share them with the world; grateful that you live in these gorgeous mountains!
Yes, Western North Carolina is in full bloom! Have you been out taking photographs of the wildflowers or perhaps just enjoying them? If so I have a great resource for you on how to identify them!
Considered to be the classic botanical handbook inside you will find color images of hundreds of flowers, trees, shrubs, etc. As a photographer I use this book during the year to identify the stunning plants I capture and share online. It is a must have for anyone who enjoys being out in nature and wants to learn more about the flora of the region.
If you are unsure of where to find the gorgeous displays of flowers in the area pair this book with Kevin Adams “North Carolina’s Best Wildflower Hikes-The Mountains.” In it you will find directions, maps, descriptions of trails, the types of flowers blooming and when; accompanied with beautiful visuals.
Both of these volumes will keep you busy throughout the spring season here in the mountains and for many more adventures to come!
If you go back into anyone’s past far enough, no matter where your ancestry lies, your ancestors practiced stone age skills. There was a time all our ancestors used stone, bone and wood tools. So, in a sense, it is the past that unites us all. To some it would seem a little impractical or even useless to practice skills like these in modern day times. Why practice the skills of ancient man? I find a deep connection each time I practice and teach stone age skills. Each time I breathe in the smoke of a fire created by rubbing one stick against another, I feel as if I am breathing in the air of the dawn of all time. Each time I crack two stones together, it is as if I rejoin the brotherhood of man and a past that unites us all.
You would think it was a very small group of people that even would be interested in stone age and survival skills but in reality these skills are of interest and use to many people for many different reasons. Some are interested in how ancient peoples lived from day to day. Outdoors enthusiasts are interested because these skills are also skills that would apply if thrust into a survival situation with loss of modern gear. All find that learning and practicing these skills give them an appreciation and enhances their enjoyment for what nature and the outdoors has to offer.
Think about it. We are surrounded by modern conveniences, so much so that we take most of them for granted, until we don’t have them. From the knife and fork we use to the more complex machines we have built to serve us such as computers. I’m not against having modern conveniences. They make life easier. But the individual who will survive cannot become so much a slave to luxuries that they cannot do without them. It is a fact that disillusionment and the paranoia that follows it are the biggest killers among people thrust into a survival situation.
What about you? Are you a survivor? In a survival situation, whether it be a collapsed economy, or stranded in the wilderness will demand courage, determination and the skills to survive. It could happen to anyone. In Western North Carolina we are rich in opportunities for outdoor lovers on all levels. Safety and preparation should always be a consideration. Wilderness first aid and survival skills training should be part of every outdoors enthusiast’s preparation. Be prepared. The life you save could be your own or someone close to you. You may also find that a survival skills course opens up a whole new world and appreciation for the outdoors.
Let me know how I can help and direct you to the training that suits you and your group. You will have a great time, meet new people and gain useful knowledge. I have books I have written on survival. I also teach survival skills at Blue Ridge Community College and on a hire basis. Visit my website for useful information, links, books and information. My website is WayoftheRaven.net. Let me know how I can be of service!
Hooker Falls – Located in DuPost State Forest. The easy hiking trail has made it one of the most popular waterfalls in the area. From the main parking lot, use the trail to the right and follow the signs to reach the falls. The trail is about a quarter of a mile. Upon getting close to the falls, you’ll notice small observation deck. You can keep going about 100 yards to get a better view of Hooker Falls. Though it’s only 12 feet high, the water rushing down makes quite an impression, especially after some heavy rain. Please use caution if you decide to take a swim near the falls.
Triple Falls – Also located in DuPont State Forest. You can visit Triple Falls after seeing Hooker Falls. From the main parking lot, walk over the bridge, to reach the trail. It’s about half a mile one way, but it will feel longer once you reach the incline. You will be able to see all three cascades from an observation point. Keep going just a little more, and you’ll see some wooden steps to the left which will take you to a flat area and you’ll be able to sit and relax for a moment to enjoy some beautiful falls. Please use caution, and also be aware there is no swimming allowed.
Looking Glass Falls – Located in Pisgah Forest, it is has become one of the biggest attractions in the area because of its easy access. Located right off the road on Highway 276 near Brevard, NC, and there are some steps you can take to get a closer look at the waterfall. Enjoy the view from the observation deck, or cautiously walk down to the water and enjoy a little swim. Looking Glass Falls is a beautiful sight, and it looks spectacular after some heavy rain. As always, please use caution if you decide to go for a swim.
Sliding Rock – Located just up the road from Looking Glass Falls, it is a popular spot in the summer for swimmers of all ages. There is a small fee to enter during the summer, so keep that in mind if you decide to go. Sliding Rock gets extremely crowded on those warm summer days when everyone wants to cool down, but it’s a fun experience. There is a lifeguard on duty during the summer months. Always use caution when swimming at the falls.
Second Falls at Graveyard Fields – Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile Post 418.8. In the summer months, chances are you will see the parking lot filled with cars. Second Falls is an easy to moderate hike. From the parking lot, walk down the steps to the paved trail. Once you reach the river, cross the bridge and keep going until you see the dirt trail on the right. You’ll come to a long, steep set of steps. Once you reach the bottom, you’ll be able to see Second Falls. If you decide to go over the observation deck, please use caution as rocks can get slick. You can take a swim right below the waterfall, but please use caution there as well. The hike is about half mile one way.
Upper Falls at Graveyard Fields – Located in the same vicinity as Second Falls. If you’re hiking in the direction of Second Falls, take a left after crossing the wooden bridge and wooden trail. Be sure to follow the signs. One you reach the falls, it may not look like much if it hasn’t rained much. Use caution while walking over the rocks as they can be slick. Expect to hike over a couple of miles if you visit Upper Falls.
Eastatoe Falls – It’s a beautiful waterfall located in someone’s backyard. Please respect their property if you decide to visit. Conveniently, they have allowed people to park their car behind their house (you will see the sign). Located in Rosman, NC near Brevard, it is off Highway 178. Once you turn on Highway 178 from Highway 64, go about three and a half miles until you see a sign that says “Mountain Meadow” on the right side. Follow the driveway to the back of the house. Walk further back into the backyard and you will hear the waterfall.
Dry Falls – Located off Highway 64 near Highlands, NC, this waterfall is amazing. It is a beautiful 75 foot waterfall. Once you reach the parking lot, walk down the long staircase and follow the walkway to the waterfall. You will be able to walk behind the waterfall! It is definitely a great experience, especially if you go after some heavy rain!
Rainbow Falls – Located in Gorges State Park. Rainbow Falls is near Sapphire, NC on NC-281. It is about a mile and a half hike one way, and it is moderate. The waterfall will be worth the drive and the hike. The 150 foot tall waterfall does not disappoint, and there is also an observation deck to get a closer look. Many people also swim near the waterfall, but always use caution as the rocks get slick and currents are tough after some heavy rain. You can also walk about a quarter of a mile up the trail to visit Turtleback Falls and take a swim up there as well.
Whitewater Falls – Located near Gorges State Park and Sapphire, NC on NC-281, Whitewater Falls is the highest waterfall this side of the Rockies. Once you get to the parking lot, please be aware there is a small fee ($2) per vehicle to park – this is to contribute to the upkeep of the park area. Once there, follow the paved trail about a quarter of a mile to see this magnificent 411 foot waterfall. Once you see the waterfall, you will also see a steep staircase to the right. Go down to get a better look. The steps are steep, and there are 154 of them! Unfortunately, you cannot get a closer look of the falls other than the one from the observation deck. For the experienced hikers, there is a trail near the observation deck which takes you to the bottom, but please use caution.
The clouds finally lifted Monday evening and Geminid meteors began to visibly soar through the sky. Even though the peak was Sunday night, there were still plenty of spectacular bursts to be observed last night on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Meteors will still be visible until December 17th so take advantage of the clear skies tonight, and try to catch a glimpse of mother nature’s holiday lights!