“Sometimes very strange things happen in the mountains…nothing above but sky…and God.” The Razor’s Edge, Somerset Maugham
This is a beautiful quote from Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge… and there’s especially something about being deep in the mountains in springtime –the hush of the forests blanketing the slopes, the myriad shades of rustling green, the birds singing so happily now that winter is over, and the air chilly and sweet.
A short trip to reconnect with Lesley, a friend I’d known since I was a child – whom I hadn’t seen for over 50 years – was four days of being embedded in the great beauty of the great and glorious Blue Ridge Mountains.
Lesley lives atop one of the mountains – in a home with 360 degree views that take in the surrounding ridges and deep, pine-strewn valleys.
It is so quiet, all you hear are the music of the birds and the wind soughing through the trees. Charlie, Lesley’s cat asleep below, agrees!
At the base of a twisty, gravelly trail is the small (three blocks) mountain town of Blowing Rock,
where we went for dinner at the Storie Street Grille that first night … a small, delightful restaurant (aren’t they all?) at which we had – a first for me – fried asparagus. Yum-o! Followed by a perfectly prepared filet with polenta that was absolutely delicious.
After dinner, we ambled around the town, looking at the small shops and cobblestone paths, churches, vine covered houses, restaurants and pubs in the still sunlight deep in the mountains. Just crazy about small towns!
I woke up around 10AM after a great night’s sleep, which I’d needed after a busy work week back home.
The weather continued glorious – 70 degrees. Sitting on the deck in the mornings, inhaling the view with my coffee, starts the day off perfectly.
We drove to Boone for breakfast at a farm-to-table restaurant, where we sat on the café’s deck and kicked back. Allie, Lesley’s beautiful Golden Doodle, joined us, good as – well – gold.
Boone, named for Daniel Boone, is a college town, home to Appalachian State University, and the main street was awash with students everywhere. The old stonework, for me, is especially appealing, and a part of so many houses and buildings here…
It was time for some much-needed walking on the trails so we wended our way to Cone Memorial Park, a Blue Ridge National Heritage area that is truly exquisite and beautifully maintained. Lots of trails. Canadian geese on the lakes.
Our hike took us around Trout Lake
and up through woods into the mountains, passing an old apple barn (above) and a sign by the side of the road that said “Due to past pesticide use in apple orchards, some soils on the Cone Estate will contain high levels of arsenic and or lead. Do not dig or allow children to dig in soils…” Really brings you up short with an appalling reminder of the harm done in the past to these wonderful orchards.
The trails were dotted with dry stone walls and old buildings, and everything was green green green. There are about 25 miles of trails – we rambled along five of them…
Woke around 9 in the morning…I’d actually waked at sunrise, which was so beautiful from the bedroom window, I had to jump from the bed to take a photograph. Morning has indeed broken…
Our first stop of the day was an English café called Eat Crow – we had English pasties, and I bought a bumbleberry pie for that night’s dessert. I had never tasted one before. It was delish!! From there, we took a circuitous route up Grandfather Mountain, stopping at various outlooks on the way to the summit. Glorious!!!
Once we summited and parked, the next big challenge was opening the car door! The wind factor was “only” 18 mph” but it felt like 100… Lesley had to hang onto the door handle while I exited.
Allie held me down so I didn’t blow away…isn’t she gorgeous?!
But the views! Unbelievable, and so elemental….I just loved it…I think it was my favorite adventure around the Blue Ridge Mountains – but it is hard to choose.
Once we got back home, we drove into Blowing Rock for a concert at the Inn at Ragged Gardens (don’t you love the names)…which Les attended,
and I, needing a bit of a rest, found the SixPence Pub where I had a quiet corner to put my feet up and drink my Boddington’s. Loved it! Wrote my journal and just enjoyed the surroundings.
As we drove down and up the mountain from the house to various ports of call, I’m noticing the houses, barns and farms that hang precariously from the mountainside or plunge into the valley. Here is one beautiful image.
On this day, we drove back to the Cone Memorial Park, and wandered around Mildred the Bear’s Environmental Habitat, found secret side paths and dry stone walls, and stopped at overlooks to take in more unparalleled views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Blowing Rock was just two miles away, so we ambled in that direction and ate lunch at the tiny Blowing Rock Grilled Cheese Café.
We both had the French Grille. It encompassed Brie and Gruyere cheeses with pear and fig dressing on a grilled sourdough pannini! Heaven on a plate!
The town was awash with flowers…which always makes me happy!
This was my last day, the end of a very special trip: reconnecting with my long-time family friend in the beauty of the mountains…many thanks to Lesley for a splendid respite. Doesn’t seem to get any better than this…the timeless peace, clean fresh air, mountain magic. Time just seems to go so quickly when you are visiting these wonderful places… All my visits to the mountains – the Smokies, New Hampshire’s White Mountains, Shenandoah – are a marvelous build up to the Blue Ridge Mountains. There is just something about the Blue Ridge…but then, I seem to say that about them all!