Boone, North Carolina, is an explorer's daydream come to life. Getting lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the East Coast is not only easy to do here, it's preferred.
MOUNTAINS & MILKSHAKES
After dropping the bike off, we headed out to explore the mountains nearby. Upon a quick internet search the night before, I had decided to check out Elk Knob State Park. It looked like there was a decent climb to summit to pano-views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which never got old from any mountaintop. We had access to a handful of hiking trails just a quick 15 minute drive from the bike shop.
We pulled into the parking lot across from the trail map station. I started putting the Burley trailer together, because it's a great tool to pull my 3-year-old daughter up a mountain with. I saw that one of the tires was completely flat and told my daughter that we'd be piggybacking instead. I threw on my camera bag, leashed up Dobby, and we walked over to scope out the trail map. A friendly couple went out of their way to suggest we hike the "Easiest Green" loop. It never fails when I show up to a new trail with baby in one hand- dog in other- that someone points us to the nearest green level trail. I thanked them and inner-snickled knowing that we had come to conquer the summit.
Appalachian trails are my favorite. The root and rock combo are like nowhere else in the country. Sometimes it feels like you are in the PNW with all the lush green terrain and crowd of ferns. It has been a wonderful rain season too, so the temperate rainforest is glowing with life in all directions. My daughter insisted on climbing "all by herself" along the rocky staircase that grew up the path. She practiced reading the " T R A I L" signs and recited her numbers on the mileage markers. The trail was primarily switchbacks up to summit making for a quick decent. She got a kick out of tapping all the blue trail diamonds with her "Handy dandy fishing pole" stick.
My daughter has outgrown her backpack carrier, so we alternated from piggybacks to shoulder carries to her earning her turns one step at a time. We passed by a family flock and the fellow mom of the gang said, "Babies and dogs, go mama go!" I was dripping with sweat with Dobby leashed to my waist and child monkey-slung on back at this point huffing my way up the mountain, so the words of encouragement were greatly appreciated.
Every peak you bag around North Carolina and Tennessee features a unique view of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains. The Elk Knob summit was one for the books, and the company along the way made the hike an unforgettable memory.
We swung by Cook Out in Boone for a strawberry-banana milkshake and went for a swim in Watauga Lake to recap our hike and let Dobby chase her ball. We'll be going back to the area to pick up my bike from Magic Cycles next week and are already excited to find another trail.