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Our last day of this spring vacation!  And what another great vacation it's been.  We actually didn't pack as much into the several days as we usually do, which made for a nice change - we got to sleep late several mornings, which is really unusual for us.  But after some overnight rain, we woke up and decided to head up the Blue Ridge Parkway a bit to the old homestead of Moses Cone and hike up to the fire tower.  The wind REALLY picked up while we were there and it was hard walking along the open meadows, much less climb up the fire tower.  But Rich braved it and did get to climb up - I stayed with my feet on the ground and was quite happy. 

After that, we decided to do one more hike on a different section of the Tanawha trail (had some nice views of Grandfather from this portion) and then called it a day. 

What a great way to spend our second anniversary.


 
 
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Day 4 and we're off for the peaks of Hawksbill and Tablerock.  Those are the peacks that we've been seeing from Wiseman's view and I've wanted to get to the top of both, so we decided to go for it.  It's not a long hike, but it's uphill both ways!  Okay, not both ways, but it sure feels like it when you're done.  The view from on top of both are incredible and not to be missed!  However one word of caution - the wind on top can become intense, to the point that it was difficult to stand at times.  The ride to Tablerock gave us further glimpses into the fire from last year, and it was even more intense when we started the hike.  But it was heartening to see all the various plants arising from the burnt soil - it also makes you realize the great skill and sacrifice of the many forest firefighters. 

Once we finished those two hikes, we decided we were done for the day, and went back to relax. 


 
 
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For the next day, we decided to hit Little Lost Cove Cliffs.  It's one of my favorite hikes, especially the way we hiked it - coming in from the convergence of the North Harper Creek Falls Trail and the Little Lost Cove Cliffs Trail.  That route takes you through an old apple orchard, long abandoned, but a wonderful place for bird watching.  We were lucky enough to spot a Blue Grosbeak this trip.  The total roundrip is 1.4 miles, and is not a difficult hike all especially given the fantastic views.  From the top, you can see Grandfather and Grandmother mountains. 

From there, we decided to go back to camp, grab a lunch and a shower and head back out to Wiseman's VIew.  In November 2013,a fire began at Table Rock picnic area and within two weeks had consumed approximately 2600 acres in the Linville Gorge area.  You can definitely see the devastation from Wiseman's VIew.  We stayed there for a while, enjoying the solitude and the company (and Rich got to launch the quad copter) before heading back to the campsite for another evening relaxing beside the fire.





 
 
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For the second day, we decided to hit Big Lost Cove Cliffs and then Little Lost Cove Cliffs in the Wilson Creek Wilderness Area.  The Wilson Creek area is one of my favorites combining spectacular views and beautiful waterfalls bordered on the north by Grandfather Mountain, the south by Linville Gorge and nestled between the Linville River and the Wilson Creek on it's West and East sides respectively.  The total acreage of the Upper Creek area is approximately 9,000 with approximately 5,000 of those being roadless and another 1,000 of old growth forest.  There are several viewpoints along this trail, some used by climbers and some cliffs sporting homes for Peregrine Falcons.  At the top is a very nice and well maintained large campsite for those wanting to extend your stay on the cliffs to an overnighter - although since this is about 3.5 miles roundtrip, it's certainly not necessary in order to see the cliffs.

Finally to top off the day, we took a quick hike down small portion of the Tanawha trail to view the Linn Cove Viaduct and get some shots from that viewpoint.  All in all - another great day!  Then home to the campsite for a blazing fire, some food, and a much appreciated sleep.

 
 
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Every year for our anniversary, we set out for a great camping adventure - doesn't matter where really, just as long as it involves a tent, the mountains, and the two of us!  So this year we decided to head over to Linville Gorge area and camp at the Linville Falls Campground off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The first day was relaxing - we set up camp and took a hike to the upper levels of Linville.  Nothing spectacular as far as the shooting goes, but a so-so day outside is worth the greatest day inside at work!  And it was a great start to our vacation.  We also managed to get a wonderful little campsite that was right next to an open meadow and the Linville River.