On the Trail Again

Saturday, August 11, 2012 Road Junkies 0 Comments

A High Country High, Day 3:  Tanawha Trail

Paralleling the Blue Ridge Parkway on Grandfather Mountain, the 13.5-mile Tanawha Trail stretches through a variety of terrains and geosystems.  Our goal today was the 5.2-mile span from the Boone Fork parking area to Price Lake in Julian Price Memorial Park.  By our reckoning, this was the only stretch of the Tanawha that we haven't previously hiked.

We started in late morning, leaving one car at the Price Lake parking lot where we'd end, and driving to our target starting point at Boone Fork parking near BRP mm 299.9.  At 11:30, we set out on the connector trail from the lot to the Tanawaha.

On the Tanawha Trail
From Boone Fork Parking to Cold Prong, the deeply shaded trail was quite wet as a result of a heavy rain early this morning.  We stepped carefully over the slippery rocks, avoiding deep muddy patches and networks of roots crisscrossing the trail, which tunneled frequently through rhododendron.

After finding a couple of letterboxes off the trail and stopping for a brief snack, we reached Cold Prong at 12:50, the first mile and a half completed.  From Cold Prong, the trail passed through a hardwood forest strewn with boulder fields before breaking out of the woods into open fields and pasture land.  Another couple of letterboxes waited for us along this stretch of trail.

Picnic in the meadow
By the time we exited the forest and clambered through the first stile into a cow-populated meadow, it was 1:45 and we had long forgotten the snack we'd eaten more than an hour earlier.  So we plopped down in the grass and unpacked our picnic.  The nearby cows seemed to find our activity rather odd and kept a wary eye on us.

Blackberry picking
Leaving our grassy rest area, we came across a patch of blackberry bushes heavy with fruit and collected a few before Emma tried to befriend a pair of young twins, one of whom was a bit bolder than his brother.

He's curious but just too cautious.
Back on the trail, we continued toward Price Lake, uncovering one more letterbox just as we encountered a couple from Knoxville with their bullnese pup (a cross between a Pekinese and French bulldog).  Of course, Emma and Mr. D became fast friends before we parted ways with the Tennessee twosome.

Through a field of Queen Anne's Lace (aka wild carrots)
Just after crossing Holloway Mountain Road and re-entering the forest, we found the perfect hiding spot for a replacement of one of our letterboxes which had been muggled in a too busy nest behind the Boone library.  We traversed some fields of wildflowers before plodding through more rhododendron tunnels and arriving back at the car by 3:45.

Rubbing her hands in anticipation
Since we hadn't made it to Kilwin's ice cream shop in Blowing Rock yet, it seemed the perfect reward for this long trek.  On a busy Saturday afternoon in Blowing Rock's high summer season, we were not the only ones with the yen for an ice cream treat, but the Kilwin's staff is quite efficient and before long, we had ice cream in hand, or in cup, at least.

After visiting a few shops in the village and replacing the logbook in our letterbox planted near Kilwin's, we returned to the cabin where Ken cooked a delicious fideua, a paella-like dish with thin noodles instead of rice.  A game of Phase 10, a little work on the jigsaw puzzle, and we were ready to call it a day.

DAILY STATS:
  • Weather:  overcast, sunny, 57° to 72°
  • Letterboxes found:  5
  • Cows in pasture:  15
  • Times we drove through Blowing Rock before finding parking space:  3
  • People in line at Kilwin's:  42
  • Pieces added to the jigsaw puzzle tonight:  298
More Photos from Today
Ken on the Tanawha
Stamping in on the Tanawha
Tanawha meadow
Tanawha view
Caramel apple making at Kilwin's
A Blowing Rock hot spot
Emma near Village Cafe (and our letterbox)
Tired?  Who's tired?
Another favorite family activity