A note from the photographer

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Linville Falls and Gorge, Linville, NC {J. Commons Photography ~ Linville Falls}

First, I am apologize for being a little behind on posting!  Other obligations needed my attention.

Now, on to the fun stuff!  I've started using an app called AllTrails to track my hikes and search for new spots to explore.  There's an overview of the area, a rating of easy, moderate, or hard, photos added by other users, and reviews by users.  Information usually includes a short description, topography, sites along the trail, and distance.  I have found that the reviews by users are a little better in accurately describing the trail opposed to the description at the top.  Two weeks ago, Deanna and I set out to explore Linville Falls in Pisgah National Forest off of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It was described as a moderate trail with some inclines and five overlooks of the falls.  (More on the accuracy of this statement in a little while.)

We found the parking lot, though were unable to locate the Visitor's Center that was supposed to be at the parking lot.  The trail head was easy enough to find and we started out.  The beginning of the trail was practically straight down.  Great for the beginning, not so great knowing we would have to come back up this at the end of our hike.  We continued our descent about a half mile to find a fork in the path. To the left the Visitor's Center (a ha!) and to the right the falls.  Of course, we chose the falls!  This first overlook took us to the Upper Linville Falls.

There was a really cool observation area fenced off along the rock.  It was pretty neat to be walking across the large rock formation.

The water flowed from this pool to a drop off that we could hear, but not see from this location.  We climbed back out from this overlook and continued off to the next one.  More incline up the side of the mountain!  Another half mile up we came to our next overlook - there was a pretty steep climb down to the overlook off of the path.  There were two separate overlooks at this spot and they were breathtaking!
In this picture you can see a bit of the upper falls in the background.

Obligatory selfie with Deanna's phone!

Looking out over the gorge.

We continued on further up to the top of the mountain, I couldn't wait to start coming back down!  There was a small set of steep stairs up to the last overlook on this side of the gorge.  I thought the last overlook was breathtaking, but this one beat all!  I can only imagine how beautiful it probably is with the leaf change.

We backtracked down the mountain all the way to the fork in the path and continued to the Visitor's Center.  We checked out the center and decided to come back to purchase our patches and stickers and then headed out the next trail that led to another overlook and the gorge.  Along the trail we found this fiery fungus growing on a tree.

The first part of the trail to the overlook was hilly and bumpy with roots and we were beginning to tire.  It was also still wet from the rain the day before.  We turned to climb down to the overlook and it was a steep set of rock stairs.  We were kind of laughing about the absurdity of this path and how it seemed to be getting harder and harder and maybe shouldn't have been defined as "moderate." The rock steps were very wet, and unfortunately, Deanna slipped at the bottom and landed on her butt.  Thankfully, she was okay minus a scraped elbow and hand, but we were extremely cautious after that.  We made it the rest of the way to the overlook safely.  

From this angle we could better see the birds flying into and off of the rock ledges.  There were dozens of, what I am calling, Rock Pigeons.  

After this overlook we continued along the trail to the gorge.  The trail became a steeper and steeper descent and we were questioning our decision to continue.  We "passed through" these stones for our own little "Outlander" moment.  We didn't find Jamie Fraser.
(From Deanna's Phone)

Deanna was in front of me and when she reached the point of the photo below she just started laughing!  I followed suit when I saw the sight.  This picture does not do it justice, but these were the steepest steps I have ever seen in my life!  I just kept thinking, "what are we doing?!"

The trail continued to get rockier and steeper and even included some very large boulders we had to traverse. Several times we found ourselves climbing down the rocks backwards!  We passed another set of hikers coming back up the trail and asked how much further we had to go.  They said we were over halfway and that it was completely worth it!  The woman laughed and said, "It definitely earns its difficult rating, doesn't it?" Wait. What? Difficult? I don't remember reading that, but it explained a lot!  We continued on.  Sadly, we don't have any photos from this ridiculous section of the trail.  I put my camera up for fear of dropping it or falling myself.  It was definitely a smart move. We finally made it to the gorge floor and and it was totally worth it!  The entire time we had been hiking the overlook I kept wishing we could get to the bottom of the fall.  Well, I got my wish!

The climb back up was hard and found us using all fours to climb over some of the rocks, but we made it!  We rested in the Visitor's Center for a minute and started on our way back to the car.  That last hill about killed me, but I was so happy that I did it!!  Turns out, the overlooks were rated moderate, but the hike down to the gorge was listed as difficult.  This was the first difficult rated trail we have completed. It was hard work, but not impossible.  We have come a long way this year in our hiking endurance and capabilities!
Hike distance ~ almost 7.5 miles!  Hike time ~ a little over 3 hours!

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