Experimental music, photography, and adventures

7. US Highway 64; 8. Whiteside Mountain

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Saturday night, after hiking at South Mountains State Park, we headed back to Charlotte and got some German food for dinner. German food isn’t something I normally seek out, but I always enjoy it when I eat it, and this restaurant was particularly good. Sunday morning, we went to breakfast and Michael and Laurel gave us a brief car tour of Charlotte. We hadn’t seen any of Charlotte yet, so it was cool to get a tour, but I still didn’t get much of a sense of what it’s like there. Maybe next time, we can do some things in Charlotte.

Sunday afternoon, Sarah and I headed out to go to the cabin we rented in Franklin, NC. We were on interstates for about half of the way, but we got tired of that and really wanted to see the area more, so we ditched the interstate for U.S. Highway 64. This turned out to be an excellent choice, because it was the coolest road I had ever driven on, winding through mountains with a lot of switchbacks and sharp turns, ups and downs, and a whole lot of beautiful scenery along the way. In fact, it’s part of a scenic byway of some sort (I’ll have to look up exactly what) and followed a river for a long while, also going near many waterfalls. This route took a lot longer than the interstate would have, but it was so much better that it was well worth it.

Shortly after passing through Highlands, NC, which seemed to have a huge golf resort, we happened to a sign for the Whiteside Mountain trail, which we had on our list of possible hikes in the Franklin area. We decided to stop and hike it right then. This would probably mean trying to find the cabin in the dark, which concerned me, but I wanted a break from driving, and this was probably the only way we could fit in a hike on Sunday.

Whiteside Mountain wasn’t the longest hike, or the most difficult hike, but it turned out to be our favorite hike of the whole trip. It’s about a 2-mile loop, and the description we read said that it was a little better to go up the steeper way and come back down on the more gradual part of the trail. So that’s what we decided to do. It was fairly steep, with rocky sections and steps through part of it, but it wasn’t too bad.

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Sarah on the Whiteside Mountain trail

After climbing for a while, we found ourselves at an overlook with a rock surface onto which I climbed a bit.

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Rock wall on Whiteside Mountain. I climbed out for a better view.

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The view from the wall

As we were admiring and photographing the view and I was on the rock wall, Sarah dropped her camera bag. It rolled a bit down the mountain. I climbed back down from the wall and found a good path to her camera case, and retrieved it. We continued hiking, and saw a small trail going off to the right. We followed it and found another overlook, with a place you could go out onto the rocky face of the mountain. We worked our way out there and took a break, drinking some water and sharing a granola bar.

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Sarah at the second overlook

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Sarah, by the edge

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View from the second overlook

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A rock “face”

We went back to the main trail, hiked some more, and saw another side trail. There were probably 5-7 of these overlooks, and each one had a significantly different view. Here are some more photos from the other overlooks.

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The coolest thing about these overlooks was that on most of them, you could go right out to the edge of the mountain, with no railings or anything like that. You had to be careful, but these were some of the most spectacular views of our entire trip. Not only that, the feeling of being on top of the world, and being right on the edge, is incredible.

The hike down the side of the mountain was pretty easy, part of it taking an old road. Supposedly, there used to be a post office at the top where you could mail postcards to people. That sounds convenient, but I was glad it wasn’t like that. We only¬ saw a few other people during this hike. It was our mountain.

4 Responses to “7. US Highway 64; 8. Whiteside Mountain”

  1. furiousball Says:

    That lady keeps getting into all of your pictures. That must have been weird, you’re out there in the wilderness and then she keeps on jumping into your pictures…oh wait, that’s Sarah.

  2. Sarah Says:

    Van — We took several arm’s length self-portraits during the trip and as we were looking at photos from the trip, Michael’s nephew exclaimed: “You guys are blocking the view!”

  3. John Says:

    When we see a beautiful spot I always take two photos. One with someone in the view and one good one.

  4. Marty Says:

    Beautiful shots throughout – I’m really jealous. Glad you got the camera back, too. Those overlooks can be dangerous for that stuff…

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