Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Adventure Village Camping Trip With Gabe Spring 2022

Hybrid trillium blooming in the Pisgah National Forest, NC 

Adventure Village Camping Trip With Gabe

 Spring 2022

Kenny, Dana & Gabriel Koogler

Thursday May 5 through Saturday May 7, 2022

Trip Photos are Here

   We took a camping trip with one set of grandchildren back in March.  We owed our grandson Gabe a camping trip.  We worked it out where we could take him for some quality time camping. I also timed it to coincide with the bloom time for hybrid trilliums I was wanting to see.  I figured we could camp, see hybrid trilliums, go to O.P. Taylor's Toy Store, and work on hiking to the easier waterfalls I still needed to visit on Kevin Adam's list of 100.   All those things would be doable and fun with Gabe.

       We got to Adventure Village and the first morning it rained like crazy. 

We filled up our day with a visit to O.P. Taylor's Toy Store.   I visited Local Color, my favorite store for arts and craft items.  We had a great time and Gabe picked out a blue Brüder van as his toy from the store.  He has played with that thing nearly every day since!  Great choice.  We got a new Fuzzy the White Squirrel.   The day still was nasty so we ate lunch and tried to wait it out.  I got on my phone on google maps and began looking for indoor playgrounds for kids.  I found one in Arden called Mountain Play Lodge which was open!  We headed that way immediately.   It was a great decision.  Cost was $15 for all day.  They also allow you to get a hand stamp or bracelet and come and go throughout the day freely.



Below is a series of photos taken at Mountain Play Lodge
The first one below is Gabe running out of the "Doctors Office" while his doctor is trying to diagnose him! Bad patient!     🩺

Below is Gabe climbing around in the play set
Below: Gabe coming out of the slide
Gabe climbing the steps of the castle

Below: Gabe walking the log like  a tight rope

The funniest and cutest thing that happened here I did not get any photos of.  Gabe made friends with some of the kids, but one liked him most of all.  He was in the "jail" that had a slide from one level to another and steps to the outside.  

  He was playing in that part of the building when a little curly haired girl about his age noticed him.  She went and laid down blocking the end of the slide.  She just grinned at him.  He backed up and went to try to come down the steps.  She moved over and blocked him going down the steps. Back and forth she went until she had him laughing like crazy. He was saying "Nanny, make her stop?!" and I said "I cain't do nuttin' wid her."  She clearly liked him and wanted to play and her sense of humor lines up very closely with everyone in our family. We like to aggravate one another a little.    I let it go on quite awhile.  Finally he asked me again to help him and I said loud enough she could hear me easily.  Okay.  I grabbed her and restrained her for a few seconds and said Now go! and he got out the slide and ran.   She got tickled and started laughing. As soon as I released her she took off after him and chased him all around the playground.  She had a little crush on Gabey and wanted to keep him.  It didn't hurt him to get the Sadie Hawkins treatment.   He was smiling about it when we left and did not even care when I teased him about it.   He was worn out so we went back to the camper.   


       Day Two - Bubbling Spring Branch 

    We got up and went hiking after breakfast.  Everything we did today was off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We packed us a picnic lunch.  We started off by hiking to Lower and Upper Bubbling Spring Falls.   It was not a long hike to either one, and I believed we'd enjoy it.  We sure did. The weather today was pretty and up high it was cool. It was long sleeves or jacket weather.   The pink shell azaleas were blooming in shades of deep pink and white.   Sarvis berry trees were in bloom.

   We found no one else hiking to the falls except us today.  The trailhead is a busy one as part of the Mountains to Sea Trail, but we had the falls to ourselves today.

  The boreal forest makes for soft tread under foot.  The streams here are glittering with mica flecks and rocks streaked with all sorts of colors.  We also saw painted trilliums blooming in several places.  

  Below: crossing Bubbling Spring Branch below a small cascade. The water is shimmering and the rocks have so many shapes, colors, tones and textures.  

Below: This is the cascade and plunge pool from a different angle. 

Below: Gabe and Fuzzy the Squirrel in the woods along the trail. Fuzzy hiked inside Gabe's shirt most of the time!  He is even more tender hearted than I am. He makes everything into a pet.  Right now he wants a squirrel, a cat, and an octopus for a pet.   

Below: Papaw Kenny and grandson Gabriel age 5 in the rhodo tunnel with Fuzzy the Squirrel.  

Below: Purple Wakerobin Trillium was another flower we found in bloom on this hike. 

Below: one of many easy  creek crossings of Bubbling Spring Branch. All were rock hops. Gabe delighted in the creeks today.
Below:  Painted trillium in bloom. This one is different than any I have seen in that it is paler. The red color pattern in it is almost pink instead of red/maroon.  I remember seeing where Jim Fowler encountered some that were of a different variety.  Perhaps this one is an oddball as well? It is also possible that it is freshly opened and perhaps the colors deepen over time? 
Below: Bluets were another pretty Spring wildflower we saw on this hike today.

  It wasn't too long until we arrived at Lower Bubbling Spring Falls.  It is a nice one and was running pretty good today.  Below is a photo of the falls.

   We finagled our way on up the stream through the forest until we came to what should be our last crossing of the branch.   The entire stream was very pretty.
We arrived at Upper Bubbling Spring Falls.  In order to view it from the best vantage point you need to be on the right hand side facing upstream.  The upper falls is a bit larger and more picturesque than the lower one.

   We found a memorial stone at the upper falls. See the photo of it below
It is for a young man who lost his life.  I am not sure of the circumstances.  Over the course of this trip we found three memorial stones about him. 

  Once we  finished this hike we went on down the road and stopped at a pull off along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Bubbling Spring Cascade is within easy sight of the road, but today we would hike over to it.   I had previously only taken photos of it from the road.   It is a pretty spot and there is a campsite right by it.
Here is where we found another memorial stone. Click the link HERE to view the video.

    Below: Bubbling Spring Branch Cascade 

  The stream here looks brown from the tannins in the water.  
We climbed up the dry parts of the rock to see the upper pools of the falls.
Below is a view of one of them.

Below is a photo of Kenny and Gabe climbing up. Holding Papaw's hand and telling him what he thinks of this adventure.

  We enjoyed this beautiful spot. It did not take long to visit at all.  We walked back over toward the road and scrambled back up the dirt and rock ditch to the parkway.
We were nearing lunch time so we headed toward our next destination, but stopped a the next trailhead to eat a bite before continuing. 

     Sam Branch and Wash Hollow Falls 

    We hiked to Sam Branch Falls and Wash Hollow Falls many years earlier.   It had been so long between visits that we were eager to go back and enjoy the falls with Gabe. All the hikes we did today were great ones for kids.  Short, lots to see within the distance hiked, and easy in terms of how hard they were to reach.  Not a lot of exertion. We do not want to take Gabe on hikes that are too difficult for him and ruin his love of the activity.   Today he hiked further than he ever had before and never let up or acted like he was one bit tired!  He hiked 3.5 miles total and was still going strong.  We did not see anyone at the trailhead for these falls except us, but we encountered a good sized group of hikers already at the falls!   I am not sure where they came from. 

  The hardest part of the hike to these falls was the scramble up the bank from the parkway.  It was  easy from there.  The falls were running very well and we saw a few wildflowers in the forest.   
Below is the first view you have of Sam Branch Falls.   The trail brings you to this spot, but if you want to go further or see a better view of the falls you have two choices.  
Either A.   wade out into the creek and look up at it. There is more above this, but then you cannot see the base of the falls and you risk getting washed downstream onto the rocks and hurt or killed.   or B.  Back track and climb down the side path to the base.  
We opted for B.    We know people who have climbed all the way up Sam Branch to the parkway, but we have never done it nor do I want to.     It is impressive, but a lot of work and a cussing match that won't soon be forgot!

    Below: Lower Sam Branch Falls-- see the group of hikers up there? 
We were worried about them, but they were very smart, experienced hikers. They did not take foolish risks.  They went out so far to view the falls and turned and went back. I was impressed with their sensible approach. Click here for a video of Lower Sam Branch Falls 

       Next we forded the creek by rock hopping.  Once across we climbed up the bank and onto the trail that leads to a view of Wash Hollow Falls.  My memory of the previous hike was pretty close to correct, but over simplified as I am wont to do.
Below is a view of Wash Hollow Falls. 

The photo below is my favorite view of Wash Hollow Falls from today.  
Below is a photo zoomed in on the layered rock at the base of the falls.  It is sure pretty with all those colors!

  We enjoyed how easy this hike was. It gave us plenty of time to hang around enjoying the scenery. We listened to the sound of the falls and the birds singing.  
Above: a particularly large, rich colored wake robin trillium near Wash Hollow Falls.  Note the burgundy pin striping on the sepals? 

 Below:  Here is a photo of another red erect trillium that grew near the one above.  See how it appears to have six petals and no sepals?  It has a phytoplasma infection.  This organism causes the flowering parts to look like leaves and vice versa.  It appears that in this case it caused all the sepals to become flowering parts.  One of the petals is deformed.. see how crumpled it is at the very top of the flower?  This is the same organism that is causing the pin striping on the other flower that looks more or less normal. In seasons to come it may become more and more weird! 

    We hiked back to the truck and did a little stopping on the drive back to the campground.  I stopped to get some photos of the pink shell azaleas.  Below are a couple examples.


Below is a video of Wash Hollow Falls

Back at Adventure Village Campground 

   We love Adventure Village Campground and stay here several times each year. I have stayed here in every season.   We have camped in our RV and have rented cabins many, many times.  The blue caption above is a clickable link to their website.  One thing we have yet to do is rent one of the larger cabins.  That is next.    Autumn in the Asheville area means leaf peepers. Leaf peepers mean prime time and with that come price hikes each Fall.  Hotel rooms that usually rent for $90-100 per night go up to $130 or more nightly if you can even get a room! 
Adventure Village doesn't do that seasonal price hike thing!   I cannot tell you how many times they have saved me money. I cannot count the times they have saved my trip plans.   We painted ourselves into a corner one year by allowing one of our kids to use our camper.  I was able to rent a cabin and thus still keep my trip plans.

      Below: Kenny outside our camper helping fix dinner. He bought us one of those black stone griddles and I love it! We both do. We wear it out. I'd like to have one on wheels for the back porch.   

Below:  making fried taters on the Blackstone.  We slice red potatoes thinly and toss them in oil with Old Bay seasoning.  Yummy!  
Below: I am not sure what is going on here, but Gabe is Papaw's little shadow.  
Below:  I won these fantastic camp rocking chairs at the Barnhart company Christmas party this past December!  We had a game of feeling what was in a sealed stocking.   I got 'em all right!   We have really enjoyed these.  
Below: our camp fire for the evening.  It was so nice! 

Below: Gabriel age 5. He is a handsome little guy.  We love him so much.  He is a lot of fun.  He has hazel eyes which he inherited from his Papa John Wilbourn.  I think he favors John more than anyone. 
Below is a photo Sarah put on Facebook some years back of John when he was in Vietnam in the Army.  He is in the back row with his arm raised.  First time I saw this photo I saw Gabriel and fully believe this is a preview of what he will look like as an adult! 

   We had a good dinner. A great camp fire.  We rested well.  We woke up the next day to pretty weather and the next phase of our adventures.

    Hybrid Trilliums in the Pisgah National Forest 

  I try to do a little research each Spring on the hybridization of trilliums, and write it up.   Part of my plan was to do just that on this trip.   I had a hot tip from a late friend Jim Fowler on where I could see some in the Pisgah Forest area.  Here is a link to the Hybrid Trilliums 2022 article which is dedicated to Jim Fowler.  I won't get into a lot of the detail on that here as I have already covered that subject.  I will skim the surface instead because it was part of this trip.   Gabe and Kenny went along with me and let me out in the spot where we started seeing the trilliums. 
I knew my work would take too long for their attention spans.  Kenny graciously took Gabe with him down the dirt road to a spot where they could play in the creek. Gabe found a Swiss Army knife that had been dropped by someone! He was thrilled.  He was such a good boy and played like crazy leaving me ample time to get my work done.  
    I found the patch of hybrids Jim told me about.  It was a bunch of Nodding trillium in both the usual white and a red form.  In addition to that there was Vasey's trillium in its typical red form. They were hybridizing between all of them!   I saw things that confounded me!  I felt better after reading Jim's reports. He felt the same way about it.  I just know I enjoyed this project immensely.
I had the blessing after writing this years edition of getting some great leads from readers. My wheels are turning and I'm already dreaming of trips and explorations for next Spring!   It is worth mentioning that: 

  • The hybrid trillium site Jim put me onto was far larger than even he knew. 
  • I have only begun to scratch the surface of the hybrid trilliums in the Pisgah National Forest region. 

Above: Jack in the Pulpit was another flower we saw at this site.
Above: Showy orchis is a native orchid we happened upon today also!
Above: Gabe giving a demonstration of a trillium he found and liked.  He's a ham.
Above: This hybrid is between Southern nodding's white form and either the red form of it or a vaseys red form.  It also has some green streaking in the petals. 
Above: red form of Southern Nodding Trillium T. rugeli
Above: White form of Southern Nodding Trillium
Above: I think this is a southern nodding red form hybridized with vaseys to make the petals that much wider. It also has a streak of burgundy in the sepals meaning likely phytoplasma infection. 

   Once we got done at this site we went into Brevard and had lunch at Hawg Wild Barbecue.   It was so good.  

   Back at the campground we kicked back and watched a movie and played and colored and drew.   It rained on us this afternoon so we took a nap.  We woke up and found that it had quit raining, but we did not have a lot of light left. 
We opted to ride over to Lemon falls and do a quick look around for trash and enjoy the falls.  That was about all we'd have time for. 
   We arrived to find we had the falls to ourselves. I do not think I have ever run into a single person there aside from who I brought with me.  Today we found another memorial stone at the falls. It was down in the stream bed. I was picking up trash and thought I saw something colorful in the water. It was color, but not household garbage. It was the purple paint on this stone.  I put it back where I found it.    
Below is a video of Lemon Falls 

Above: Flame azalea blooming by Hwy 215 on the way to the falls. It is getting dark!
Above: Gabe by the falls. He likes this creek because it is pretty and a good rock throwing and wading spot.
Above: colorful pebbles in the stream bed
Above: Lemon Falls
Above and below: putting on water shoes with Papaw. 
Below: a perfect pair of Catesby's trilliums near the falls!

   We did our trash pick up and headed back to the campground.  It began to rain again later during the night.   

      Sunday-- Nanny Saves the Duckling and Gets a Flogging

      Sunday morning after breakfast it was muddy and wet.  We had breakfast and decided we'd not try to do any hiking today.  We were ready to head home.  Gabe had already missed school Friday.  We kept him out for this camping trip, but we wanted to be sure to get him home in time to rest and unwind to be fresh for school on Monday.     We knew it would take a bit longer to get packed up since everything was wet.  Gabe and I got out and walked around the campground.
The creek flowed right by our camp site.   Ducks live here on the place and they had been swimming up and down the creek.  

    We saw a mama duck and her babies.  They had a nest in the brush on the far side of the stream.  She went to get all her little ones in the stream for the day.
They all plopped in one by one except for the last little fluffy yellow critter. He got his fuzzy yellow butt hung on a briar and hung there quacking pitifully.  I watched hoping he'd work himself free and drop into the water.  Mama Duck swam the rest of the brood off without him.  He was hurting hanging on the briar.  The next thing I knew I'd shucked off my shoes and waded into the creek up to my knees. I went down there fast as I could to free him.  I reckoned without one thing. Mama Duck wasn't having any of that.  She saw me head toward him and came flapping toward me.  She was just sure I meant him harm. She could not reach him because of where he hung and the sharp briars.   I finally ended up just taking the flogging and got him free and once he dropped into the stream they all took off swimming away from me.   Gabe was standing there talking to the Mama duck a few minutes later telling her "You need to relax. My nanny wasn't going to hurt your baby. She was helping him. You can't just leave  your baby hanging there with thorns in his little butt!"  Ever the peacemaker trying to smooth things over.  🦆

  In all we had a great camping trip.  We are already looking forward to the next visit.  I want to see some Autumn colors. I want to hike to three of the remaining waterfalls out of the last five on my list.  Three are within a reasonable drive of Adventure Village.  I want to hit up Bernie's Falls, Melrose Falls, and Mount Hardy Falls.  It was great to go and good to get home safely.  

Above and below: Mama duck and her brood

Above: bridge across the creek near our camper

Above: stream behind the camper

Below is a video of the mama duck and her ducklings



  1. We all get different types of flogging. Nice blogging, though.

    1. Thanks for the read and comment. Yeah. I guess we really do. :-)


Thanks for reading and commenting. If you find conditions in an area changed please let me know and I will add changes to the blog entry to reflect those. Also if you know history of an area or a good story that relates I always welcome people sharing those sorts of things. I often revisit a place and blog about it again adding the info with credit to the story teller or add it to existing entries. Peace. DK🐝