As some of you may recall, our first blog post told the story of a detour we took to the Linville Gorge in North Carolina. Only we never actually made it to the gorge. Six months later we found ourselves staying in Morganton, NC, about half an hour away from the gorge. We decided it was time for round two.
This time we made sure to arrive with plenty of daylight left to go hiking. We took our first little excursion on the Blue Ridge Parkway (another thing that’s been on our to do list), parked at the Linville Falls visitor center, took one of the more amateur-friendly trails to the falls, and had a beautiful afternoon in the woods.
The hike actually took less time than we expected, so we decided to get back in the car and try to find Wiseman’s View, an overlook on the west side of the gorge that Steven had read about online. It is accessed from Old NC 105, a lovely, narrow, unpaved road that winds through the mountains. In some online reading it was suggested that 2WD vehicles may not fare so well on it. Lucia is definitely a 2WD vehicle, but turning onto the road we saw a sign that said “Wiseman’s View .6 mi.” We thought, “It’s only .6 miles. How bad can it be?” A mile or two down the road, however, it dawned on us that we must have imagined the decimal point.
At this stage we had already driven over some pretty steep hills and bumpy terrain. The road was somewhat muddy from recent rainfall, and we began to wonder if it might be safer to turn back…
Looking to the right, the trees cleared out a bit and opened up an expansive view of the Smokey Mountains fading into the distance. We found a spot to park and take in the sight, and again we questioned if we should turn back or keep going. The sun was starting to set and if we kept going it would mean eventually driving in the dark. But we had come this far. Why turn back now?
As the sky turned to warm oranges and pinks we finally arrived at Wiseman’s View. Just a short walk away was one of the most beautiful sights either of us has ever seen. With mountains all around us, the gorge below us, and the sun setting on the horizon, we agreed that it was well worth the drive.
After taking in the view and walking back to the car, one big question still remained. Do we turn around now or keep going? It’s about six miles back the way we came, including some hills we came down that we’re not sure Lucia can make it back up. On the other hand, if we keep going it’s at least another 15 miles until pavement, and we have no idea how steep the road might get. Weighing our options, we decided to press on, fully aware that this is how both really cool stories and episodes of Animal Planet’s I Shouldn’t Be Alive begin. Luckily we got the cool story, more amazing views, and (as as my fellow Bostonians would say) a wicked pissah cah ride through the mountains.
I’d say we were a little more successful in round two. We hope to go back sometime to hike down into the gorge and possibly camp for a night or two. If you ever get the chance to see Linville Gorge, we highly recommend it.