Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Christmount Camping Trip

Crimson Bee Balm in the forest around Big Ivy

Camping at Christmount 

Dana & Kenny Koogler

Friday July 3, Sat. July 4, Sunday July 5, 2015

Pictures are here: 

   We had been wanting to get out for another camping trip this Summer.  
I was still wanting to work on both my Waterfall Challenge and Lookout Tower Challenge.
We discussed how long it had been since we stayed at Christmount. We discussed how in all 
the years we've been visiting and hiking in Western North Carolina's mountains we had not
once visited Mount Mitchell.   We decided to spend our July 4th weekend just the two of us and forego the fireworks this year.     I packed all through the week so we had very little to do in the way of packing Friday morning.   We headed out toward Black Mountain, North Carolina on Friday.

       We arrived at Christmount Christian Assembly around noon.  We had stocked up on grocery items in Newport at Wal-Mart.     We were really pleased to see how beautiful Christmount still is.
All weekend long there were four other campers and two of those were volunteers.  
We had a warm welcome by the staff and it sure felt good to be back.   We had never done any RV camping there. We were always tent campers in the past.  Our spot was right at the top of the hill from our old tent camping spot!   It is still pretty and quiet.  We saw no tent campers this weekend
in those spots.   We drove around the grounds a little bit.   Some things have changed. 
The swimming pool is no longer directly below the tent camping spot.  They have moved it up the 
hill to a better location.   We never used the pool for two reasons in the past 1. We were always gone too long and the pool was closed when we arrived back. 2.  It was always filled with frogs!
I think the new location must have improved the pool situation for we saw a few folks using it this weekend.   Seems to be a new dining hall built too.   We looked for the starts of the Lee Moore Trail
without success. We had a map, but I'm sure we need Kelvin to go back with us for that one. 
Probably Cathy too.

  Once we got settled we headed out to fit in a waterfall hike for the day.
We realized upon studying the map that as the crow flies Black Mountain is close to all the places we planned to visit this weekend.  The reality is quite different though for as the roads go there is no
easy, short way to get there from here.   We sucked it up and picked the least difficult route
from Black Mountain to Douglas Falls in the direction of Barnardsville.   It was actually a pretty good way and the drive was pretty the entire time.  

We passed Walker Falls on the way. It is roadside waterfall.

  Summer wildflowers .. daisy fleabane and crimson bee balm along the forest service road.

We hiked the short, easy way to Douglas Falls.

Right by Douglas Falls was a Bigfoot hut!

  On the way back through we stopped at the Big Ivy Historical Park for me to check out the
refurbished Little Snowball Lookout Tower.

Little Snowball Tower no longer sits on top a mountain.

   It began to rain on and off.  We were tired and headed back toward Christmount.  We stopped and got some red box movies to watch, but ended up being so tired we just went to bed after supper.


  We got up Saturday morning and fixed a nice breakfast and packed up our stuff to go hiking.
We packed lunches and snacks and all the stuff we might need.   Today's forecast called for 
rain in the afternoon and evening.   We decided to try to visit Mount Mitchell first because 
the skies were clearing up.   We'd have more of a chance for a view from up there this morning than probably any other time of the day.     The Blue Ridge Parkway is always pretty, but we had never visited this part of it so it was really attractive to us being new.    

View from the Curtis Valley Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway 

View of Mount Mitchell from the Mt. Mitchell Overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The summit is just barely out of the clouds.  

Mt. Mitchell Observation Tower with no view after all.

    One of the towers on my Lookout Tower Challenge was Mt. Mitchell.  The whole hike to it and the visit was neat, but a little on the blah side since we didn't have a view as a reward.  The Summer wildflowers are pretty, but we hit at an odd time.  The purple fringed orchids are here by the hundreds, but they are past peak and turning brown.  The azaleas and rhodos are done. Turks cap lilies are just getting started.   St. Johnswort and a few plants were out and pretty, but it was the doldrums up here this time of year.  One season done and another not really started yet. We decided that since the visit was a little flat we'd re-hike it if we're in the area and the weather is more conducive.    

  We moved on to the next thing.  We stopped along the parkway and ate our lunch at an overlook.
We then continued down off the parkway to fit in a couple short waterfall hikes that were on the list.
We had neither one been to Roaring Fork Falls or Setrock Creek Falls.   We found the trailhead
and didn't have any problems. It rained some on us at Roaring Fork and we had to spend some time hiding out under a rock cliff until the rain quit in order to get any decent photos.  I spent considerable time cleaning my lenses and wiping off water and fog.

Roaring Fork Falls is a nice short, family friendly hike.
Beautiful spot!

Next we hiked to Setrock Creek Falls. It is also a nice easy, family friendly hike.

  On the way back toward town we stopped for icecream at Dot's Dario.  Oh my!  Fifty wonderful flavors!   Yummy!   This place is icecream heaven!

    We stopped by Andrews Geyser next since we were in the area.

Andrews' Geyser started out as a memorial to a fallen friend.  A developer and promoter of Western North Carolina. It was refurbished and purchased by donations in the 1970s and now is a public park for all to enjoy.    It is small, but pretty with the manmade 'geyser" as the centerpiece.

  Back at Christmount we fixed a nice supper of steak, baked potatoes, corn on the cob and fresh cantaloupe.     We watched our movies and relaxed.  


     Sunday morning we woke rested and feeling great.   Neither of us felt like the big breakfast today.
We don't eat like that usually.  We were more interested in getting out and fitting plenty of adventures in today.  We both wanted to hike to the Green Knob Tower. We hadn't realized it was in the vicinity yesterday!  We have a pattern going of cramming as much into our camping trips as we can before 
getting tossed out after check out time.    We tend to come skidding in under the wire anymore.
Kenny felt today should be no different.  True to form we crammed the day full and missed checkout by an hour and a half.  Christmount on Sunday afternoon doesn't have people lining up for RV sites as a usual thing so we were alright.   Seeing as how it was late when we got back we pulled up stakes as a team effort as fast as we could and held off on lunch. We had a late lunch/early supper at the local Phil's Barbecue joint down the road in Black Mountain.    

    Today we squeezed in Green Knob Tower and a hike to Crabtree Falls!
Kenny trying to figure out if he can take a bolt out and get us into the cab of Green Knob Tower. :-)

Really not much of a view up here today either, but it was a pretty hike.
Relatively easy and if we are in the area again we both said we'd hike it over just to have a view the 2nd time around.

Turks cap lilies coming out along the parkway.  About the best view of the day.
Crabtree Falls is 70 ft high and just beautiful.  Lots of people here today.

    We had a grand time and look forward already to the next trip to the area.
We want to revisit Catawba Falls, Little Snowball Tower and more.

I'm down to needing only 12 waterfalls now and 14 more lookout towers!

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