Thursday, June 26, 2008

Back from the NOC

The NOC: Nantahala Outdoor Center. Fun times, I tell ya. Susan and Corinne beat me to the blogging game. Somehow I left my camera's USB in Oxford, and I just now found the backup. But I am back at home in Clinton, and I'm ready to tell it all! Just kidding. I can't tell everything, silly. Here is a breakdown of what we did.

Wednesday: Drove from Oxford to Lost Mine Campground in the Nantahala Gorge. For dinner: beer and hotdogs by the campfire. Nalgene bottles filled with whiskey sours. Yum-o. I hadn't had a hotdog in lord knows how long. Group pic right before hotdogs were consumed. From left to right: Anna, Jenny, Susan, Corinne, Laura, Catherine, and me.

Thursday: Up early for breakfast at River's End. Then rafting down the Nantahala. I took a waterproof disposable camera on the river, so hopefully we'll have some awesome action shots. We spent the afternoon chillaxing and sunning on the pier at Queen's Lake. This is what we looked at from the pier. It was a gorgeous day. Getting up to Queen's Lake was not gorgeous, chill, or relaxing, however. Somehow we ended up in Corinne's huge SUV on a freaking mountain bike trail. We should have known this road was bad news when we noticed the wooden bridge was painted silver to make it *look* metal, therefore more stable. I've gotta re-quote the description I found about this road, because it is just too good:

This 5.5 miles of gravel road is a favorite of the avid mountain bicycle riders in the area. These people are real sadists tackling such a steep road with only pedal power. With 3.5 miles of initial climb, Winding Stairs lives up to its name and rises from 1,954 feet to 3,024 feet in that short distance.
This route offers some of the steepest drop-offs we have ever seen; so steep we wonder how trees are able to grow here. Don’t daydream on this rugged route or you’ll be off the road. If you want to take in the views, pull over and STOP.

Yep. And we tackled it in an oversized SUV with no way down but to reverse. At one point, I started laughing hysterically because I was pretty scared for my life. After that fiasco, we treated ourselves to dinner at Relia's Garden at the NOC. I had the trout and a yummy glass of Pinot Grigio. It was fantastic.

Friday: We started the day a bit late. Our intention was to hike the Appalachian Trail from Tellico Gap to Wesser Bald where there is a fire tower and fabulous views of the Smokies and the Nantahala Gorge. BUT... our directions person (a friend of Anna's) gave us directions to the overlook tower on Wayah Bald. Simple mistake, but we ended up driving about an hour out of our way up Wayah Road. Only about 20 miles, really, but the roads were extremely steep and curvy, and we were averaging about 25 mph. At the top of Wayah Bald we found the overlook tower and a cell phone tower (um, yeah). It was pretty on Wayah Bald at the overlook, but not what we were looking for. We wanted to hike to the top of a mountain, not drive.We came back down the mountain and stopped for a picnic lunch on the pier at Nantahala Lake.
As we were packing up our picnic to leave, we saw the "For Boat Use Only. No Picnicing or Swimming" sign. The boaters didn't seem to mind our picnic, though.

When we finally found the Tellico Gap hike, it was about 4:00 in the afternoon. We set out on the trail we'd driven 3 hours to find. We'd been hiking about 30 minutes with Anna in the leader postition when she stopped dead in her tracks. Corinne, who was next in the line, turned around and tried to run like holy hell back down the mountain. Was it a bear? A bobcat? Nope, a rattlesnake. And it wasn't moving. Jenny threw a few rocks at it to see if it would get out of the way. Nope. It just rattled harder. A few of us were OK with walking around it. And a few others saw it as a visual representation of the cursed day we'd had and weren't walking an inch further. We walked back down the mountain without getting to the top. By then it was time for pizza and local brews at the River's End, and boy, were they good!

Saturday: We got a really late start. We wanted to do another day on the river in two-man duckies (inflatable kayak-like boats), but we needed three of them at about the same time. The NOC was super busy and all sold out. We went down in a raft again, and we ROCKED it! Jenny, Corinne, and I got in a short afternoon hike, and then made it back to the campground for a super campfire supper. 1) Summer squash. See previous blog post. I brought a bunch of summer squash to the Gorge. 2) Red Beans and Rice. 3) Cajun Sausage. 4) S'mores. Heck yeah.

We made it back on Sunday with all our limbs and lots of awesome memories. It was a rockin' trip, ladies!


sm2 said...

Go Cougar Cubs! j/k! I'm about to plan another trip for August!

Lisa Blair said...

With Daniel? Chip is ready to go back with me. We were looking at some awesome cabins that are further up Silvermine Road.

challie west said...

I am so jealous of your trip! Chad and I opted out of our day trip to the NOC. So sad! Can't wait to see your rafting pics.

Eve said... I am starving and I can't afford to eat, I have to lose ten lbs by the fourth..LOl

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