Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hikes: Dupont State Forest (Four Waterfalls, Katniss' Pond, and the J Crew Warehouse Sale))

Driving toward North Carolina's Dupont State Forest (near Hendersonville) I started humming "Summertime" from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.  It was that kind of morning.  I hummed all the way to the driveway of Asbury Hills Retreat and Conference Center in Cleveland, SC.
Stopped here to stretch my legs, read my directions (GPS could no longer find a signal), and take a pic.
My mother had warned me that once I passed Asbury Hills heading towards Brevard the road would get a little curvy and steep (and that I'd better find an alternate route home if its going to be dark etc).  She was right.  I rolled down the window and clapped for each road biker riding up that mountain.  They are amazing.  When I arrived at the Hooker Falls trailhead, the group was pretty much ready to go.  The temperature was perfect.
I'm sure my car yelled "You Lie" to the air since it has never experienced this temperature during daylight in August.
We warmed up with a hike to and from Hooker Falls.
Insert joke about a group of women hiking to and from "Hooker Falls"
 Then we headed back through the parking lot and across the road to continue on to the remainder of the promised four waterfalls.  Our fearless leader warned that our route to Triple Falls being slightly uphill.  It was uphill, but definitely doable.
Can you count the three falls?
You might recognize this set of falls from a recent blockbuster movie that will remain nameless for the time being.  On past Triple Falls is a set of stairs leading down to the base of the falls.  I have nothing to report as I did not go down there.  We turned towards High Falls.  This was one of my favorite parts of our hike as it was fairly quiet.  After a short climb we reached the High Falls viewing area.
I could just post a picture of the falls but...
  Right before reaching the official viewing area, our leader pointed out the covered bridge at the top of High Falls.  That was our next point of interest...or so we thought.
Right pass our turnoff to the covered bridge we ran into a lady driving this truck.  She told us to watch out for the copperheads as she'd been seeing a lot lately and to remember to make a lot of noise WHEN we ran into a black bear.

Beautiful horses.
The covered bridge was a nice place to stop and take pictures.  We started to see people on horses at this point.  There are a few stables in the forest and as it was a nice day to hike, it was also a nice day to ride.  From this point on the hike was flat.  I learned how NC protects new hardwood trees.

The little blue tubes protect the seedlings.
Our next goal was Bridal Veil Falls.  We planned to stop for lunch and then crawl under the falls.  I didn't know it then but I was in for a whole lot more than lunch and a pretty view.  For those that do not know (I didn't), Dupont State Forest is the site of a number of scenes from The Hunger Games.  That's great for NC's economy but I did not expect to have our fairly peaceful lunch disturbed by tourists stepping around, over, and on us to see Katniss' pond.
A hop, a skip, and a jump and we were at our lunch site viewing Bridal Veil Falls.
Tour group stepping over me.
Tour group drinking strangely colored liquid.
Tour group staff thinking "Hope these hikers/bikers/horseback riders don't tell my group that admission into the Forest is free and the N.C. tourism board has a self-guided Hunger Games tour that you can print for free."
Okay back to the hike.  We headed up Bridal Veil Falls.  No really, we headed up the falls, stepping from dry patch to dry patch on the edge.  How else would we see where a famous Last of the Mohicans scene was filmed?
At the top of the hill, I changed to my water sandals.  Little did I know we needed to climb through brush and shimmy over a slanted bit of rock with only the assistance of a tree branch, a fellow Dame's hand, and our core.  Now I can say that yoga and pilates help me with hiking.  Here comes the reward...
Please take a picture of me. Oh no you don't need to keep my phone on this side.  I'll keep it dry...
No words! I cannot describe the sound or the feeling of being underneath these falls.
I did not start the day thinking I would sit under a waterfall but the Dame on my left (blue sweatshirt) convinced me.  I can also thank her for my need to stick my feet into cold mountain water at the end of our other hikes.  Life is good!
 After playing at Bridal Veil we started the trek back.  Since walking (falling, sliding, becoming a statistic) down the falls was not as appealing as walking up the falls, we found a "path" through the brush.  This was not a wide path and I should have changed back into my hiking shoes before getting on it.  The water sandals do not have the best grip.  We eventually retraced our steps back to the car passing what seemed like a ton of people now on the trails.  Once we made it back to the cars, I said my goodbyes.

Next stop: J. Crew Warehouse Sale!  Google navigator took me on what felt like a very circuitous 25-mile route to Arden NC's J. Crew Warehouse.  A few times a year, at two locations in North America, J. Crew clears stock at prices between 60 and 90 percent of retail.  I thought I would take a chance and see what was left since I was in the area.  After stopping at a gas station, cleaning up, and changing into my leggings/tank/dress ensemble, I went over to the warehouse and stood in line.  I waited about 30 minutes.  My coworkers that arrived before the opening were in line for 3-4 hours.  Once I entered the warehouse, I thought there is no way I am going to find anything.  It was chaos.  But then I saw the price list.  That was all the encouragement I needed.

After 2 hours of searching through boxes I landed several great work dresses, shoes, blouses, neon yellow flats, boots, a dress for one of my favorite little girls, and an all over sequin dress that I would generally never buy.  Most of my purchases were around 80 percent off and the sequin dress was more than 90 percent off.  Please note that I had no soreness from the hike, but the entire right side of my body hurt from the repeated dig and ditch motion required to make it through those boxes.

All in all it was a great day.  I was so exhausted when I finally made it back into my house at 11:30 p.m., I dozed off underneath the shower.  Until next time y'all.

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