Mini NC Adventure: Rough Ridge

Rough Ridge is definitely one of the most popular hikes around the Boone area of North Carolina, and after visiting, I can see why. There are few other hikes that are as short yet rewarding as this one. While the climb can be a bit treacherous, the views from the top are amazing.

The trailhead is located on the Grandfather Mountain section of the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile marker 302.8. There is a pretty decent sized parking lot at the trailhead, and both times I have gone, the parking lot didn’t fill up. But I can imagine that during the summer and fall, it would be hard to find a space.

The hike all the way to the top is just under a mile, but if you wanted a shorter hike, you could definitely stop at boardwalk that has been built about 1/3 of a mile up. The boardwalk was built to protect the fragile vegetation that grows on the rocks, and hikers are required to stay on the boardwalk. The summit is another 1/2 of a mile up, and the views just keep getting better and better. Along the way to the summit you will find a rock jutting out which is a famous spot for photos. Be careful on the rock though. While photos make it look a bit more daredevilish, there is still quite a drop to the ground if you were to slip and fall. After just a bit more hiking, you will reach the summit at 4,773 feet.

From the summit you can see views of Grandfather Mountain, the Linn Cove Viaduct, and miles and miles of beautiful mountain scenery. There is a cable to help you get to the highest rock as it is pretty steep, but you don’t want to miss the views from the top there. You feel like you are on top of the world. There are several rock outcroppings to sit and enjoy the views which would be perfect for a little picnic on a sunny day.

The hike is an in-and-out trail, so once you have soaked up all of the views, just turn around and go back down the way you came up. There are more trails that connect to this one and is part of the larger, 13 mile Tanawha Trail and Mountains-to-Sea trail.

I have only enjoyed this hike in the winter, I can imagine that the colors are spectacular in the fall while the leaves are changing or in the spring and summer when the mountains are full and green. I’d also love to go back for a sunset when I can imagine the sky lights up a beautiful shade of pink and ends the night with a fade to purple and blue. I will definitely be visiting Rough Ridge again in the near future.

After exploring this trail with my dog, I read that dogs are not actually allowed on this trail. Pets are prohibited to protect the fragile and vulnerable plant community and keep it in tact. So, I would not recommend bringing your fluffy friend along with you especially if you are planning to hike on a potentially busy day. No one actually said anything to me, but I had the feeling I might be doing something wrong when I realized that no one else had a dog on the trail, something that doesn’t often happen.

I strongly urge you to test this hike out if you have not already. You could not ask for better views for such a quick hike, and if mountains are what you love, this hike is for you.

 

Here’s to Strong Women

This post was meant to go up yesterday, but a little bit of prolonged International Women’s Day celebration wont hurt anyone, right! I am so proud to live in a time when more and more women are stepping into the spotlight and breaking down barriers hundreds of years tall. I also feel incredibly lucky to know so many of these strong women.

I have been surrounded by wonderful and powerful women my whole life, and so many of these women have shaped me into who I am today. They have shown me that I can be anything I want to be and that I can do anything that I set my mind to. They have taught me that real women don’t drag each other down, but rather build each other up. They have taught me that there is no shame in standing up for myself or my beliefs, and that I should always be proud of the woman I am.

My Mom

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So much of who I am, I can thank my mother for. I don’t even know where to begin with how she has inspired me as a woman. She always pushed me to be the best I could be and believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself. She has shown me the power of an open mind and an open heart, and taught me to always lend a hand when I had a hand to lend. She has changed so many lives, and her passion for literacy has inspired me greatly. Thank you mom for being such an incredible, strong, independent, and compassionate female role model. I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my mommy you’ll be.

Diana King

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Diana King has been like a second grandmother to me. She is a powerhouse and all around bad ass. At 89 years old, she is still chugging away like steam engine, doing crazy shenanigans like parasailing in Costa Rica and getting full shoulder tattoos. She has taught me to fearlessly pursue my passions, and always take time to enjoy the little things like the sounds of the birds singing, or the last few moments of a glorious sunrise. She has taught me that I can climb any mountain I have the nerve to climb.

My Oma

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My Oma has taught me how to be gentle and kind. She has taught me how to love unconditionally and to treat even the smallest of creatures with respect and care. She has the biggest heart of anyone I know, and I’m thankful to have a heart like hers in my life.

My Girls

I’ve got such an amazing group of girls in my life that have inspired me and continue to inspire me every day. They are all so passionate about their interests and always have the best advice, even when they may know its not what I want to hear. They all share such a love for life that is infectious, and I wouldn’t be half the woman I am today without you all by my side. (Special shout out to Jasmin G., Sandra H., Hannah M., Michelle L., Keikichi L., Kaela R., and Marianna V.)

J Ro

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When I think of strong, inspiring women, JRo is one of the first women I think of. She was so much more than an art teacher to me and I am so thankful for this teacher-turned-friend. She always encouraged me and supported me not only in my projects, but in my life as well. She has taught me to live without fear of other’s opinions, and to always be myself. She has shown me the power of an open mind and that our differences only make us stronger.

Ishani

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I have met Ishani quite recently, but already, her bubbly personality, and unmatchable love for life has inspired me greatly. In the year that I have known her, she has already taught me to be myself unapologetically and to never be ashamed of the things that excite me. She has shown me that you are only as old as you feel. Her simple love for the little things in life is infectious, and I couldn’t imagine a better partner for Roan Mountain sunrises.

Ellen

Ellen DeGeneres is someone that I have been watching for years, and she never fails to bring a smile to my face. She has such an incredible and kind heart and her motto, “Be kind to one another” has played a huge role in my life. She is definitely making a difference for women everywhere, and showing all of us how to lift each other up and live a life full of empathy. (Maybe one day I’ll have a photo with her.)

This is just a short list of all of the incredible women that inspire me each and every day. I hope that one day I will be as strong and independent as all of these women. I encourage you to take some time to think about all of the women who have had an impact on your life and thank them for being fearlessly themselves.

“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May be them. May we raise them.”

A Perfectly Magical Winter Break

I’ve been back in school for a week now, and I’m already hardcore missing winter break. It may have something to do with leaving the mountains, or returning to school work, or the fact that it is way to warm in Raleigh to feel at all like winter. I also had quite a long winter break (over a month!) since I didn’t have any final exams (perks of design school) so getting back into the daily grind and constant work work work has been a bit tricky.

So while I should be writing code, learning about shape grammars, and researching inclusive design, I’ll take a minute to share my winter break with all of you.

My whole goal of winter break was to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Since the full effect of cold winter weather hadn’t fully settled in yet, I found myself on the Blue Ridge Parkway almost once a day. Since both my siblings were still in school and I didn’t have my usual hiking buddies, I spent a lot of time alone which was actually super refreshing. I’m the kind of person who actually enjoys spending time by myself so having afternoons on the trails with only my camera and my thoughts was nice after a long grueling semester.

I’m realizing it now as I look through the pictures that I took over break and realized that I didn’t actually take too many photos. I found myself leaving behind my camera on several occasions and just going off for a drive and stumbling upon a trail to explore. It was a challenge to try to get nice shots on my phone, but I made do with what I had available.

Somewhere in the midst of all this hiking and outdoors stuff I managed to drive over to Nashville, Tennessee. My best friend is currently part of Nashville Ballet’s second company, and was performing in the Nutcracker. I haven’t missed one of his Nutcracker performances since we became friends, so the five hour drive surely wasn’t going to stop me now. Looking through my phone, I realized that I have absolutely no photos of Nashville, which sort of upsets me. Ah, oh well. I’ll just make him dress up like the grandfather when he’s home again and get a photo with him. Peyton, you down with that?

I also went exploring with the fam-bam and we all shared some of our favorite hikes with each other. While I enjoy the solitude of an hour on the trails, its nice to share the scenery with other people and discover new places in the process.

We all have a major love for snow skiing, so we made a ski trip a priority on our winter break list. We met up with an old family friend (not in this photograph) and had a fun filled weekend of snow tubing, decorating Christmas cookies (which we’ve been doing since I can remember), kids vs. parents games of Heads Up, and a day of skiing. It was a perfect day of skiing with 50 degree temperatures and sunny blue skies.

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Probably the most exciting part of winter break was having the company of my aunt, uncle, and Oma for Christmas. They made a last minute trip to North Carolina to spend the holidays with us. It was such a treat to have them here for a few days. It was Oma’s first time to North Carolina in roughly ten years. It was like a true family Christmas.

During the last few days of my winter break, North Carolina got a mini monster of a snow storm. It started on Friday morning and by the time I woke up on Saturday morning we had a good 6 inches on the ground. On Sunday, the snow still hadn’t melted but I packed my car up and got ready to go back to Raleigh. I had just hit the road to go back to school when I got a text informing me that my first day of classes had been cancelled, so I got one extra day of break. It was a nice little surprise to have one last home cooked meal and a few hours more with the parents.

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I’m such a “Look at the moon” person

I’ve lived my whole life tucked away in a small town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I spent my childhood knee deep in rivers and creeks, hands covered in mud, and head full of imaginary creatures such as fairies and unicorns. More often than not you could find me in the small patch of woods at the back corner of our home building fairy houses out of twigs, soft green moss, and delicate flowers. I had a wild imagination that took me on magical adventures everyday. But, somewhere along the way of growing up, I lost that imagination in the jumble of school, friends, and technology.

For a good portion of my middle school and high school years I was sucked into the teenage lifestyle. I was much more interested in messaging my friends and playing Farmville on Facebook than building fairy houses or playing pirates in our tree house. I grew out of my imagination “phase” and let the current of social media consume my life. I was obsessed with likes and my online presence. I felt lost without my phone in my right hand, awaiting the ding of text messages, followers, and snaps. My biggest dream was moving to a far off city surrounded my noise and lights and being consumed by the hurry of people.

Then two summers ago, I went on an overnight camping trip with the senior campers at Camp Spring Creek and my life was changed. When offered a chance to go on the trip I was a bit hesitant, but at the last minute I agreed and packed my backpack. I figured I was comfortable in the wilderness and viewed it as a time to bond with some of the senior campers. Little did I know that in those two and a half days spent dirty and cold in the Black Mountain Range I would regained my desire to explore and my imagination would come back to life.

Now I live in a far off city surrounded by noise and light and a hurry of people (sure, Raleigh is no NYC or LA, but its definitely bigger than my hometown) and all I can think about is going back to the mountains. I yearn for even the shortest of breaks from school to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and find peace on the curvy roads surrounded by trees and rivers and dirt and mud. I spend almost every free minute at home driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway, awing at the marvelous Appalachian Mountains. I now feel so connected to the place that I live and the feeling of clean fresh air, winding country roads, and high mountain peaks. I would rather spend my evenings enjoying a beautiful sunset than at a party with some friends or trapped behind my computer screen.

Don’t get me wrong, you can still often find me with my phone in my hand or back pocket, but the urgency to view and reply to messages has since dissipated. My camera roll is now filled with photos from the stunning places I’ve been and my mind is filled with places I wish to go. The gratification I receive from likes and comments on my photos is now a happiness I am able to share the beauty that I find in the world with my friends and family. I want to be able to share those moments when I reach the top of a mountain and can just stare in pure amazement at the wonderful world that we live in.

So yes, I do get overly excited at the sight of stars and I will most definitely pull over on the side of the road to just take a minute to enjoy the color of the changing leaves. If you spend time with me you will definitely hear me say “Look at the moon!” more than once, and you’ll have to be patient with me as I take a few extra minutes to awe at the color of distant mountains or rolling waves. I like the feeling of grass between my toes and cold river water rushing on my hands and you would find me clutching a salamander or toad before you would find me using a clutch. I would gladly wear the smell of a campfire over expensive perfume and I am more comfortable in a t-shirt than I will ever be in designer clothing.

I will never underestimate the power of adventure any longer. Because if one trip could help me re-establish my connection with nature, who knows what the rest of my life will bring.

 

Mini NC Adventures: Green Knob Overlook

There is something about moving away that makes you appreciate your hometown a little bit extra. It seems like every time I go home now, I make sure to take a trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Sometimes its just to enjoy a little drive time with the windows down, the music blaring, and an absolute masterpiece of mountains surrounding me.

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Sometimes I go to find comfy spots to set up my Eno hammock and read.

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Sometimes I see things from the road and think, “how can I get up there”. This particular blog post is dedicated to that exact feeling that I had while driving on this beautifully crafted piece of infrastructure. If your driving north to south along the Blue Ridge Parkway you will spot a little hut onto of a mountain around mile marker 350 (roughly 5 miles north of Mount Mitchell). I pulled over to the very next overlook and got out and looked around. It took a while to find the trail head as it doesn’t seem to be hiked very often. I had to walk north for like the length of a football field (100 yards roughly) and found a tiny little trailhead on the other side of the road.

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The hike was relatively short, but gained quite a bit of elevation. The whole hike consists of switchbacks so its not too steep, but its high up. Its probably like half a mile or so, but I’m sure you could look this up to figure out for sure. I would give it a 5/10 on the difficulty scale. A fit grandmother could probably hike it, and hiking boots aren’t required, but you will be sweating once you get to the top (especially if it is sunny).

 

The view from the top though is probably like a 9/10. It would have been a 10/10 if the outlook was unlocked, but unfortunately the highest I could go was the stairs. You are right on top of a mountain (probably more accurately a ridge) and you can see awesome view on both sides of the mountain. It was pretty windy, so I didn’t spend too long up there. There is something about being on a rickety staircase with the wind blowing me (and my camera) around that just isn’t very enticing to me. My camera also didn’t particularly like the high winds and the battery died relatively quickly as if saying “get me down from here”.

I would highly recommend this short little hike to anyone though. I want to try to do it again in the summer and see if the outlook is unlocked for people to go up into. I am assuming it was locked for the winter season, but I’m not too sure. Let me know if any of you have ever been on this hike, or have ever seen this overlook. Also, if anyone knows of any other overlooks off of the North Carolina section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, let me know! I want to check them out!

Alright. I think thats about it for this week. Only 21 more days until I leave for Europe! Get ready for some more travel blog posts! I hope you all have an amazing day, and rest of your weekend!

Peace out, enjoy life, and live the adventure.

Write About It Wednesdays: Laughing

 

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I fully believe, and stand behind the quote that “laughter is the best medicine”. It can cure nearly anything, even if just for a moment. It makes us forget about the horrible things in the world and escape to a happier place. But, when I was thinking about laughter, something unsettling hit me. I don’t know when the last time I had a good, honest, heartbreak-curing laugh. A can’t breathe, tears rolling down my face laugh. The fact that I can’t remember means it has been far too long.

The routine and stress of everyday life has consumed my thoughts and has kept my mind focused on the more serious side to life. Now, don’t get me wrong. The serious stuff is important too. The world is filled with challenges and risks and peril. The news is littered with heartbreaking stories of tragedy. The positive stories get pushed to the side and will never be reported. Being constantly exposed to all of the negativity in the world makes it hard to see the positive side to life. When we are being spoon fed the bad, we forget what the good tastes like.

Thats why I think laughter is important. Why its the fireworks of our soul. It lights us up and shows us the good in the world. And thats why I think we should laugh more. Smile more. Enjoy the good things in life. Look for the positive articles on the news or in the paper. When your out in the business of your day, take a second to look around and take in the wonder of the world. Find something that will make you laugh and share it with the world. Laugh at yourself. Loosen up and have a good chuckle about all the little quirks that make you who you are.

I mean, have you ever felt worse after laughing?

 

Write About It Wednesday: Impossibility

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Currently in my Intro to Philosophy class we are discussing the philosophy of religion. More so, we are learning the different arguments for and against the existence of a traditional western God. A few of the arguments seem a bit far fetched to me, but nevertheless have really made me think about life. I leave that class feeling very confused about my purpose and the purpose of humans in general. I leave with questions like “What if this is all a dream?” or “What if there is another planet out there in our forever expanding universe that is the parallel to our life on earth?”.

I started thinking about the universe and how infinitely small our little planet is. Sure, in comparison to our physical beings it is absolutely ginormous. There is far too much to explore in a single life time, however it is minuscule in comparison to the universe. The universe is a scary yet wildly intriguing topic in my mind. Scary because we don’t know what is out there, but intriguing for the same reason.

It really is a miracle, this life of ours. Whether you believe that some being created this world of ours thousands of years ago or if you believe that some chemicals reacted in space and boom here we are, it is a real life miracle (that is, if this life is actually real). Most times I think that fact is taken for granted. We tend to focus on the things that in the long run won’t matter. I am guilty of this just as much as anyone. I spend far too long worrying about people and things that don’t deserve my time. I get stressed and flustered over the little things and waste way too much time trying to impress people who don’t want to be impressed.

I guess what I am trying to say that ultimately, we are just tiny little pieces of matter floating around somewhere in an endless space. Our time here is limited, so there is no reason to waste it on worrying about the little things. We should make the best of our time here, and enjoy every second of this incredibly impossible life that we were given. We have the freewill to make whatever out of this life that we want to, so why not make the best of it.

Okay. There is my philosophical little spiel on life and what not. I hope you are all having an absolutely amazing day and maybe I’ve inspired you to let go of the little things.

Peace out, enjoy life, and live the adventure.

Write About It Wednesday: Scatterbrained

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I have the attention span of a 5 year old, with the worldly wonder of a newborn, and the responsibilities of a college student. My mind (and my life for that matter) is all over the place. There are so many different thoughts going on up there that I don’t even know what to do with them anymore. My head is starting to directly resemble my creatively cluttered desk.

I am the kind of person who has two settings when it comes to my ability to focus, and I have not quite figured out how to control the settings. I am either hyper focused on a single task at hand, or focused on everything, everywhere, at all times. And most of the time, it is the latter. It is during these moments of lost focus that my to-do lists get made, but nothing gets crossed off. Its when my brain starts opening a million tabs ranging from Etsy, to cars, to homework, to travel plans, to questioning the meaning of life. There are so many things going on up there, but I cant zero in on a single thought.

Does anyone else have this problem? Feeling like the whole world comes at you all at once and you are able to only halfway pay attention to anything because everything is so interesting? I guess I should try to focus and close out some of those tabs. Making a list always helps me (even though I sometimes lose the list).

Alright. I don’t know if I can focus much longer to write any more. This was a pretty lame blog post, but I hope some of you can relate.

Peace out, enjoy life, and live the adventure.

 

Write About It Wednesday || Introverts

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I am an introvert, living in an extrovert world. While sometimes frustrating and difficult, it is not impossible to do so.

When I first realized that I was an introvert, I was a bit scared. I didn’t want to be all alone for the rest of my life! I misinterpreted the word and what it meant. I thought that introverts couldn’t make friends, or didn’t get along with people. I was scared to walk alone. I was scared of what society might think of me.

Now, I know differently. I know that I was completely wrong about what I thought. You see, I’ve come to love being an introvert. I’ve come to respect my needs and I love “walking alone”. Sometimes being an introvert means that I have to miss out on hangouts and parties, but that is okay with me. At the end of the day, I will be more happy spending time by myself doing what I love to do, than following a group and getting lost in the crowd.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a horrible recluse who never comes into the daylight. No, that is not me. I love my friends and the adventures we have. They have come to respect that I need alone time once in a while. Its just that I would rather spend a whole day lounging around with one or two friends than going to an amusement park with half of the senior class.

So, this post goes out to all the introverts out there. Don’t be scared to accept your introverted little awesome blob of human! You are great and you need to know that. Let your friends know when you just need a bit of alone time and if they don’t accept that, they are not your friends. Don’t let anyone make you think that you are a social outcast because you’re not. Don’t try to change because introverts are awesome. Stop trying to adapt to an extrovert world and learn to love “walking alone”.

Thats really all I have for you today. I know its kind of disorganized, but what can I say?! I hope all of you introverts out there will learn to embrace your quiet little selves and live loud without having to be loud!

Tootlelie-pip! Peace out, enjoy life, and live the adventure!

Write about it Wednesday | | Being True to Yourself

Buenos dias Dream Chasers!

Sorry that it has been a while, yet again. I am home for Spring Break this week and boy oh boy does it feel good! Getting away from the snow and ice and making my way into the sunny mountains of North Carolina. I even got a sunburn from sitting on the porch reading a book for maybe a little too long without sunscreen on. I’m sure I’ll have loads more to tell you about my spring break when it is over, so I’ll do a weekly recap in roughly two weeks to let you know how my spring break went.

With that said, I guess I’ll start with my Write About it Wednesday (does that sound like a good name for these little motivational/rant type posts?) Today I wanted to talk about being true to yourself. It is a common struggle that almost all human beings go through in their lifetime. I praise the people who are always true to themselves because it is truly a hard task! It’s tough when you get your heart and feelings invested in people and situations to just “let go” of things when they’re not going right. It’s sometimes easy to stick with the feelings and situations that are “familiar” (even if they are super uncomfortable) rather than avail yourself to the great unknown. But one of the most liberating things you will ever do is to come to realize what things are NOT working for you and decide to get them off your path. That’s a tough lesson, but it’s a lesson that could mean the difference between feeling alive and feeling sick, stifled, and stressed out!

Not being true to yourself can be caused by many different things. For example, being put in a different environment that you aren’t used to, problems at home, a new girlfriend/boyfriend perhaps, maybe you want to become a better person and somewhere along the way you loose sight of your goal. Everyone has different reasons and barely anyone notices when they aren’t true to themselves, but the people around them do. Its like you turn around and suddenly you don’t recognize that person anymore. Not being true to yourself can be one of the most obnoxious things, but watching your friends not be true to themselves is truly heartbreaking. No matter what you say to them, you can’t snap them out of that phase. Everyone goes through it and being a good friend is about the best thing you can do if you find one of you friends drifting astray from who they truly are. No matter how much it hurts, you have to stick by their side. However, don’t put yourself in an unhealthy friendship. That doesn’t do anyone any good. Don’t resent them if they push you away. It is going to hurt, but if friends can push you out of their lives, were they even friends at all?

Alrighty then, I’m going to end it there. Long story short, stay true to yourself. Staying true to yourself when you are put in uncomfortable or unfamiliar situations shows the true character that you are. If you find you friends straying away from their character, don’t try to push them back into the person they were, that can only happen from them. Just be a good friend and try to understand what they are going through and why. Being an understanding friend is one of the best things you can be to someone.

Tootelie-dip! Have a wonderful rest of the week and I will talk to you again soon!

P.S. If you live in or around Mitchell County, North Carolina, I encourage you to go see Grease at Mitchell High School this Thursday, Friday, or Saturday at 7 or Sunday at 2!!! Tickets sell an hour before the show begins! It will be fantastic!

The Rainbow Centre – JacksGap

This is what I want to do with my life. Visiting places around the world that are suffering from extreme poverty and working with the kids. I want to create better lives for those less fortunate than me. This is one thing that I find extremely important to me.