I climbed a mountain and read a book, and now I have the itch to hike

This past weekend, James, Tootsie and I rented a cabin in Newland, NC up in the Western North Carolina mountains.

I started reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed before we left and finished it on our last night there.  The book, along with 3 hikes that we took, now have me pumped to hike more places.

The Hikes

Grandfather Mountain – $20 per person

It was very strenuous and involved cables and ladders.  James had hiked there before and didn’t tell me how strenuous it was.  He kind of tricked me into doing it.  I’m glad that he did otherwise I might have chickened out.  We hiked the Grandfather Trail starting at the parking lot near the Mile High Swinging Bridge to MacRae Peak and then took the Grandfather Trail back until it met with the Underwood Trail and took the Underwood Trail back to the parking lot.  My only regret is not buying a $6 anklet in the gift shop.

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Linville Falls – Free

A relatively easy hike that many visitors did in flip-flops while smoking and illegally swimming in the Blue Ridge Parkway waters.  Perhaps do this on a weekday where it might not be as crowded.

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Table Rock – Free

Strenuous uphill, but totally worth the 360 degree views.  The trail is not marked well.  I’m pretty sure on our way up we forked right every time there was a split in the trail to keep heading up the mountain.  Just be very careful driving on the gravel road to and from the parking lot.  We got into an accident on the way down the mountain.  More on that another time.

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The Book

Wild by Cheryl Strayed (recently made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon) is a memoir of Cheryl’s hike along the Pacific Coast Trail in the mid-90s.  In an effort to think deeply about her life and losses and to attempt to sort out what she should do for the rest of her life (she was 25 years old at the time), she decides to hike the trail alone.  We find out through her trials and tribulations how poorly she prepared for the trip yet how much of her life experiences have prepared her for the trip as well.  I highly recommend.

What I learned from the hikes and the book:

1) I need larger hiking boots.  Apparently your toes shouldn’t jam into the front of your shoes when you are hiking downhill.

2) I need a better hiking backpack.  You know, one that stays on your back and doesn’t fling to the side as you are trying not to fall off a ladder that is attached to the side of a mountain.

3) Bring more water when hiking.  James and I were rationing the water in our one water bottle that we shared between the two of us on the Grandfather Mountain hike.  We would have gone further if it wasn’t for the lack of water.

4) Ticks have 8 legs.  Not sure what those 6-legged bugs were all over us at the top of MacRae Peak.

5) Bring snacks.  Another reason why we didn’t hike further up Grandfather Mountain.  Strenuous hiking makes me hungry (for food and more hiking).

6) Other people who are serious about hiking are super nice and helpful.

What I’m reading now: Undeniable by Bill Nye

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