Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Boone to Beech

Sunset, mountain style
I took advantage of the past weekend's holiday to take a trip to Boone, NC. I haven't been there since college so when the suggestion flew by my ears, I grabbed it. I never really thought about it before but Boone is only 2 hours away from Charlotte and a pleasant drive mostly on NC highways instead of the interstate. While I had a long list of must-do's in my head, I opted to skip the itinerary and just do what came along.

Overlooking Boone
After enjoying a night on App State's main drag, I got up Saturday morning and hit the road sans map. After exploring Howards Knob, the mountain towering over the college, I headed west on 321 and took the first left that looked decent. I ended up on 194 which took me on a pleasant trip through Valle Crucis, Matney, and Banner Elk. It was a tough climb to Banner Elk but once I was there I knew I had to climb Beech Mountain again.

Last time I rode to the top of Beech it was at the end of a very long ride and with my friend and training partner, JP Scoots. Riding by myself was not nearly as satisfying because when I got to the top there was no one to high five, no one to see me fist pump, no one to say "that's how we do it, yaaaaaaaaaa knoooooooow." In fact the top was pretty much empty so I  pulled a Clark Griswald, took a picture for tweeting purposes, and turned around heading back to Boone.

Boone to Beech Elevation Profile
After some exploring, hiking, and tree climbing, I ended my day with a short run on the Greenway Trail. The Greenway Trail runs along Winkler Creek just south of App State. It is a trail that winds through several ball fields before it disappears into the quiet wilderness. I ended up turning around at the stone ruins of an old mill house. I think this was the first time in my life I did not want to stop running. 

Day 2 was a little more calculated with a short trip to Moses Cone where miles of unpaved trails meet the Blue Ridge Parkway. Hopping on the parkway I headed towards Grandfather Mountain enjoying the weekend's most scenic views. I have never had the opportunity to ride my bike on the parkway but I understand now what all the fuss is about. My favorite part was crossing the Linn Cove Viaduct. What a spectacular view!

This video obviously does not do the view justice but I think you at least get the idea. 

But now the party is over. Time to pedal to medal.