The North Carolina area of the Appalachian Mountains is one of our favorite places. In October, we returned to Marion, NC to catch our breath, catch up on a little work, and enjoy the mountains.
Hurricane Michael brought much rain to a landscape already drenched by Florence. While we were high enough to avoid flood evacuation, the water level from the adjacent Catawba river rose much higher than we anticipated. To see how it affected the RV park where we stayed, check out "Week 41" on our Snap of the Week page.
Here is where we parked. As you can see, we had the entire campground pretty much to ourselves. The Catawba River is just on the other side of the trees in the distance. The amphitheater and stairs to the river are over there, too.
Two days after the rain passed, we decided to hike to Catawba Falls upstream. The ground was still wet, but we remained dry as we hiked. At the falls we met a local man who said this waterfall was often barely a trickle in the summer. You can see in the photo how much water was flowing this day.
Most days in Marion we would go for a drive along the parkway. Since the parkway was just a few miles from our campground, this was an easy short trip or it could turn into a full day excursion. It was too early for this year's Fall color, so we just enjoyed the beauty of the drives. We often leave home without firm plans so we usually have digital and paper maps to make decision on the fly. The digital map is great, but up in the mountains we have no internet access and even when we download maps, our phone has a difficult time dealing with our location. That's where the printed maps are helpful. As long as we (generally) know our location we can navigate anywhere we want to go. We have attempted to get lost a few times, but it never lasts very long.
Here you can see the morning fog in the valley below Mount Mitchell.
When we stop along the roadway, we try to learn from the exhibits. There aren't many opportunities to experience mountains in Texas and while all these words were familiar, seeing how they work with each other helped us to understand local signs better.
We were confused by this vocabulary once when we were trying to see the Lynn Cove Viaduct.
The picturesque viaduct is a sweeping elevated bridge that passes Grandfather mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
We were able to see it in all kinds of conditions during our stay.
A wide view of the viaduct can be seen a little further down the parkway.
The picture below was taken five days after the one above. See the color change already?
Wanting still another view, we saw a trail that said "Viaduct Overlook." Awesome! Just what we are looking for! We hiked up the hill to see what sights awaited us. Here the trail is taking us under the roadway. Nice perspective.
Climbing further up the hill we saw incredible root formations as we (and the trees) scrambled over rocks.
Getting to the main viaduct viewpoint, we saw this sight.
Yep, that's the viaduct alright. It seems this observation trail was created not for an overview of the structure, but for local folks to watch construction - really close-up. Feeling a bit silly (and a bit out of breath) we made our way back down to the visitor's center. The was not what we expected, but as always, very interesting.
Content with our overview photos from the road, we drove on. We stopped a few more times to take in the awesomeness (is that a word?) of God's creation.
We also stretched our legs on a few more short hikes.
Marion, NC never disappoints.