Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays from Microbear!!

I hope that all readers, regular or new, have a wonderful, safe holiday with their loved ones! Thanks for your continued interest in my antics and thoughts; I appreciate it so much. The great year ahead shall hopefully see many more fun lessons in backpacking and hiking, and many more beautiful Carolina scenes to take in!

In spirit of the holiday, here's one of my favorite Christmas moments!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Formerly, Friday: Whitewater Falls

Sorry I've been so patchy with posts, folks. Bad news has me headed across the pond for twelve glorious family-filled days tomorrow, and that doesn't really leave much time for hiking and backpacking, much to mine and Dad's chagrin. In lieu of a day hike, here's a little information on one of the jewels from North Carolina, the Land of Waterfalls!

Off of SC 130/NC 281, there is a recreation area with what has been proclaimed as the East's king of falls... you can't get very close to it due to a number of fatal accidents. Whitewater Falls is part of (originality, readers) Whitewater River! Whitewater River is a part of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, and the Foothills Trail makes for about 85 miles of volunteer-maintained hiking that meets the river at this recreation site.

The stop Steven and I made on our way home from a day trip to Highlands, NC took us to this North Carolina stop. It was late in the afternoon after a great day at the Nantahala National Forest, and this was the perfect wrap up of a day out with nature!

The recreation area of Whitewater Falls was incredibly clean and picturesque, with vantage points not only of the falls, but neighboring Lake Keowee in the wee distance. The paved walk up the hill from the parking area at Whitewater Falls takes you to a decent overlook of the falls, but we agile folk took the extra 150-something stairs down to another overlook that gives further access down to the Foothills Trail along Whitewater River. I thought that view was far more spectacular; I only wish we'd gotten there earlier in the day, so as to night have to fight with my camera's flash options to capture the impressive scale of the 411 foot drop that is North Carolina's Whitewater Falls...

Forgive the horrid photograph. The autumn was wrapping itself up; this was probably one of the last warm weekends we had, the last weekend of October! I'd love to see how lush it all looks late in the spring; but we got lucky as we didn't have to angle around foliage to see the immensity of the crashing waters! The roar of the falls is impressive in and of itself; Steven and I may not have hiked to it, but we highly recommend this stop if you find yourself travelling the SC/NC border!

For more information, click: Whitewater Falls Recreation Area

Thanks as always, and expect another Formerly, Friday in two weeks time if all goes well! If not, enjoy the sounds of crickets!

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Walk in the Woods

I have a Goodreads account; I think every one who knows me best was shocked that I chose to do a blog about hiking/outdoor adventures over books. I suppose I like that people get to follow me as I learn about hiking and backpacking, that there is a sense of progress to it. I wasn't an English major, so I never feel comfortable advertising my thoughts on books when there are so many higher, more qualified authorities.

Today, however, I will! I just finished reading Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, and wanted to share my Goodreads review. My parents had lent me the book after they both read it, and were pretty excited about it! I think my Dad especially may be a bit disappointed with my thoughts on it, as he enjoyed it so.

Disclaimer: I love hiking, even for its occasional discomforts. Keep that in mind, and remember that my opinion is never to be taken too seriously!

Bryson describes his (and others') experiences along the Appalachian Trail with smart wit and breathes of cynicism, explaining that as with any other government organization, the Park Services (National or State) aren't incredibly logical agencies, however idealistic some in their employ may be. 

I enjoyed the blend of history, geology, ecology, and anecdotes, but really had a hard time truly losing myself in this book as Bryson comes across as a bit of a whiner sometimes. When he's giving you all the information, its really fun and easy to get sucked in to the topic at hand. Thing is, we're talking about someone who says they are going to hike the AT, has the time and (apparently) the money to do huge chunks of it as a thru-hiker, yet gives up at Gatlinburg only to take smaller day chunks out of the New England sections with his car, then meet up with his original trail buddy in Maine to finish the Hundred Mile Wilderness in one shot... that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. At that point, they're out of shape and no longer conditioned to be comfortable carrying their packs, as well as beginning the hardest, longest stretch of uninterrupted wilderness.

It goes back to my problems with Eat, Pray, Love. The whole world does not have the time or the money to drop their day to day lives to go travelling, despite their personal aspirations. What Gilbert did that Bryson does not do, however, was discuss her gratitude for the opportunities, and try to do justice in her rhetoric to the beauties she witnessed. Bryson just plods along, complains a bit, enjoys a hot meal at a rest stop when possible, and gets sardonic about... well, everything.

Sometimes this book made me want to read his other travel books. Sometimes this book made me anxious to start the AT myself. About half the time, though, I just wanted more information, and less Bryson muttering.

Thank you all for your continued support of this blog! I appreciate it beyond belief.

I will be headed to England in a few days to stay with family. This will be my first trip back to the Mother Land in over seven years. It's going to be very bittersweet as those that know what is going on in my family can attest to; forgive me for not discussing details online. Just know that any thoughts and prayers are appreciated, and when I return to South Cackalacky there will be many more trail posts! Patience is appreciated!