Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Linville Falls & Cavern

Living in Asheville means there are hundred of hiking trails to explore nearby.  In college, Bobby and I spent one summer working as camp counselors near Asheville.  We were both rock climbing instructors which meant that we took campers out to various places to rock climb.  We both love camping and hiking, but have not spent much time doing these activities prior to living in Asheville.   Now that Amelie and Liam are older, it looks like we will be able to enjoy hiking more frequently.  They both loved hiking.  Not only do they have freedom to run, but there is also so much to explore and learn about when you are in the woods.

Linville Falls is near the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It is about an hour drive away from Asheville so we knew this would be an all day affair.  However, when we were approaching the falls a huge storm cloud was building with occasional lightning.  We do not do lightning.  So we made a detour and decided to go in the Linville Caverns instead.  Taking a look inside the mountain would be a unique experience for the kids so we decided to spend the money and go for it.  We received a guided tour through the cavern.   Tours have been going through the caverns since 1937 so it was paved for ease of walking and well lighted.  These caverns were found in the early 1800's by a fisherman who was astounded to see fish swimming in and out of what appeared to be solid rock.  A small opening in the mountains allowed the fishermen to enter a view the caverns.  The stream is still home to the native trout.  We were able to see some swimming while we walked next to it.   At one point, the guide turned out the lights and it was pitch black.  She explained that early explores burned their fuel too early and were left in the darkness.  They used the stream to find their way back out (it took a couple of days and the water is SO cold!).  We also were able to see salamanders and learn about the rock composition that caused the different colors.  It was a fun experience and a good way to pass the time.  By the time we were finished the storm had mostly passed so we decided to venture to the trailhead.  Before we left, we bought the kid's first rock candy.

It was cold and drippy as we walked through. :)

To get to the falls, it was a moderate hike about 4 miles round trip.  The main falls drops 90 feet into a 12 mile long gorge.  We were able to hike to different viewing spots.  The kids were still eating their rock candy as we started the hike.  The stormy weather did blow over so it was an enjoyable dry hike.

Above the gorge.  It was a huge drop which doesn't show clearly in this picture.  The rushing water was stunning.

Liam stopped eating his rock candy and said, "Mom, stop taking pictures of me."

Amelie picking flowers.
To help distract from all of the walking, Bobby made the kids wings out of huge leaves so they could flap their way to the car.
The highest point of our hike (Chimney View).  We also were able to look over and see a  rock formation that looked like a Chimney.
As we were driving home, Bobby saw a turtle crossing the road.  We pulled over and he brought the turtle to the kids for a closer look.  The turtle came all the way out of it's shell and we thought it was odd but really neat….and then it went to the bathroom…inside the car… The kids loved seeing the turtle and now enjoy telling people about how a turtle peed in their car.  We cleaned it up and then headed for home.  The kids slept in the car on the way home while Bobby and I listened to a podcast. :)

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