Recipe for a Perfect Day: Hiking off the Blue Ridge Parkway

Filed under: Blue Ridge Mountains, Nature, Outside Asheville, Things to Do

>Take one perfect September day in Asheville, NC. Finish up your work early and drive over to Greenlife Grocery Store and buy the most awesome sandwich ever. Drive up Town Mountain Road past all those houses perched on the mountainside which you have never been able to figure out how to get to before.
When Town Mountain Road intersects with the Blue Ridge Parkway, head north. Enjoy the sunshine and the beginning color in the trees. Do not get impatient when stopped by one way traffic on the Parkway. It will be finished before October and the roads were pretty well beaten up last winter. Watch James get out of the car and engage the flagman in conversation. Learn that the flagman has been doing this job every day for three weeks, he cannot sit down and he cannot prop the stop/go sign up in a stand. Shake your head in wonder at the unnecessary discomfort.
Pull over into a small parking bay just after Craggy Gardens and find the beginning of the trail: Big Butt to Little Butt. Take a picture of the sign to prove that is the name in order to forestall the inevitable jokes and start hiking. Walk through the silent sunlit forest past wildflowers and through grassy glades while words like “sylvan”, “dappled” and “zephyr” pass through your mind. Take a picture of James as he bends to go under a fallen branch. He says it’s an “action shot”. Start to ascend the mountainside and think how much easier it will be going back.

Pretend to use the rope which is probably only needed when it is wet and slippery but fun all the same.

Decide that because you got a late start and because of the one way traffic on the Parkway, it is now two in the afternoon and you probably won’t make it to the summit for lunch and you are hungry anyway. Plunck yourself down on a handy tree and pull out that sandwich. Yum! It’s called “Under the Tuscan Sun” and has mozzarella cheese, portobella mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, eggplant, and spinach with a really lovely pesto type dressing. James has tuna.
Finish up with some hermits and some pear-apples which you bought at the North Asheville Tailgate Market.

Continue with the hike only to discover that not more than 100 yards from where we ate lunch is a lovely rock overlooking the valley below.

On your way back down the mountain spend fifteen minutes trying to get a picture of one of the beautiful butterflies which are all around while James tells you to “Just take the picture! It’s digital. You can delete the ones that don’t work!”

Return to your car about four hours later and decide that rather than go through the one-way traffic again you will try continuing along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The flagman tells you that there is a dirt road about six miles farther on which will take you off the Parkway and down the mountain to Route 40. Be glad you are driving the SUV once you start down the dirt road. Return to the Carolina Bed & Breakfast: happy, tired and refreshed!


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