In late May and early June of 2011, I set out to explore part of the Appalachian Mountains with Carson Stewart, Cameron Finnis, Bryan Paris and Mitchell Reinhart. The first leg of the adventure involved hiking and camping in a wilderness area. The second portion involved whitewater rafting. Finally, we ended the trip by visiting watering holes in Asheville, North Carolina. This brief webpage is intended to document some of that experience. Click on any image below to see a larger version.

Linville Gorge Wilderness

The Linville Gorge Wilderness is situated inside the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina. It's comprised of 11,786 acres of wilderness, with dense forest cut by the Linville river and waterfalls, resulting in steep mountainsides full of diverse wildlife. The wilderness area is free of any manmade structures and was one of the first formally designated wilderness areas of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

We started out our trek on the Babel Tower Trail, a primitive and strenuous path with an elevation change of 1,300 feet. However, it offered beautiful views of the gorge and valley below, and as we neared the bottom we could hear the calming sound of rushing water.

Eventually we found a small campsite suitable enough and set about with the usual chores of water fetching, popping up tents, cooking dinner and building a fire. One chore was particularly important each night - hanging food from a high tree limb out of reach of bears or other scavengers in the night.

The next morning we set out on the trail again, but this time hugging the river more closely, though often it was obscured by dense trees or a high perch from elevation in the trail. Throughout the entire hike we continually encountered large downed trees. By shortly after noon of the second day we took a break from hiking, ate lunch and took a swim in the river. Click here for a brief video of us all taking the plunge.

Refreshed from the swim and lunch, we continued on the trail before eventually coming across a large campsite close to the river with a view and location too good to pass up. As usual, Cam's assistance was needed to build a fire. We relished our last night inside the wilderness by building a hefty fire and star gazing into the dark sky.

The hike the next day out of the gorge along the Conley Cove trail was grueling. In addition to a steep ascent of 1,100 feet in less than a mile, the path was rocky and often blocked by large downed trees, thorny bushes, and slippery rocks. One pleasant distraction was numerous flowering bushes all along the way. Most of us were pushed to the limit of exhaustion, but ultimately we all made it out in one piece.

Whitewater Rafting

The next major portion of the trip involved whitewater rafting in the Nolichucky River courtesy of Nantahala Outdoor Center. The portion we'd be rafting crossed the Tennessee-North Carolina state line and consisted mostly of level 3 and 4 rapids. Numerous pictures of the fun are below.

Asheville, North Carolina

With hiking, camping and whitewater rafting all under our belt, we decided to finish off the Appalachian Adventure by touring the bars of nearby Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville has developed a reputation as a progressive, hip destination in the southeast, in part because it embraces the arts, the outdoors and good microbrewed beer. Several pictures of the excursion are below.