Table Rock, Asheville, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
How do you have a great weekend? You find a great travel companion (in this case two), head out into nature with some big goals, and then change them all up depending on your mood and the weather!
Plan started out knowing there was rain in the forecast for Table Rock in North Carolina. We wanted to try our luck and get in a big weekend of camping and climbing. We left Lexington around 3pm ish on Friday afternoon and ended up arriving to Table Rock somewhere around 9:30. Roughly a 6 hr drive with stops and a 8.7 mile dirt road finish up to the Table Rock picnic Area. That night was the first night EVER that my new subaru has been slept in! Woot Woot!
Payton woke me up at 4:40am when our alarm went off, to my disbelief I couldn't believe it was already time to make a run up the mountain. We were trying to get up for sunrise and made it! The first route to go down ( or up?) was the Cave route, (5.5), we ended up linking the 2nd and 3rd pitches.
From lunch ledge we went up My Route, (5.5), and had a blast. We switched leads on each pitch. Luckily for Payton she got the draw of the amazing first pitch of My Route. Exposed and clean it's a great route for cutting your teeth into the trad world or even for your first experience at Table Rock. The summit views were abundant and we went down to see Luna.
After a quick lunch and a swap of gear we were off again to go try our luck with a hike down into Linville Gorge. It was a great peacful walk down. After getting lost multiple times, we decided to take a tributary down to the river which provided abundant excitement and ignited inquisitive spirits.
As it would turn out, the bridge to cross the river was washed away many moons ago and was never replaced. This meant we slogged it back up the gorge, this time only losing track of the trail once! Upon returning to home base we took naps before eating more and setting out to see the sunset over the gorge.
Sunsets are always one of my favorite parts of nature. It's a magical time when the sun dips over the horizon only to return after an often times long cold night.
The next day we planned to get up early again and run up the North Ridge (5.5). The problem was during the night a massive thunder and lighting storm blew through the area. In the morning it was questionable if the rock would be dry enough to climb and even worth it. After weighing our options we decided to make the go at the North Ridge.
This was the first time up the route for the both of us and we were struck by its grand views and remarkable climbing. The first and second pitches are both fantastic with good gear and incredible exposure for 5.5. Not knowing what lay ahead of us for the third pitch we roped up to tackle it, but both decided the next time we do the route we can probably just solo the last 50 feet or so.
Upon returning to the parking lot we still had most the day ahead of us. Not sure what we really wanted to do, we packed everything up and took off for Asheville. We both had heard of the amazing little mountain town with lots and lots of craft beer. Three hours later, we were sitting outside of Wicked Weed indulging into our first experience with the Asheville eats. Payton ordered the Peach Jelly flatbread, and I had the sausage sandwich, accompanied with a flight of beers. Everything was delicious. 5 out of 5 stars would recommend. We went to the Funkatorium which was great for out needs. A tour was next on the list, and we wandered around downtown admiring all of the people out and about.
The time came to decide where to figure out where to sleep, so we started looking for a bunch of mountaintops. Plans soon hatched to go to New Found Gap along the Blue Ridge Parkway on the way to Gaitlinburg. Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, we saw elk and an amazing sunset! We ended up sleeping on top of Clingman's dome for a chilly evening in the car.
After rising, watching the clouds roll by us, we headed for home. A fantastic trip overall.
Notes: Picking up an AT thru hiker is just as exciting as getting picked up hitching.
Payton is way better at hand stands than me.
Birds like to dive bomb you on cliffs.
Always bring a bunch of water.
Prepare for the unexpected.
Roll with things when they don't go according to plan.
Until next time, Happy Trails,