I decided to start this blog for several reasons.  First of all, for a child growing up in rural western North Carolina, the landscape becomes a part of your identity.  Like a member of your family, it fosters a deep and innate love—an unbreakable connection—the kind that always draws you home again no matter how far you travel or what you become.  This connection was strengthened for me when I became a student at Lees-McRae College, a campus which, while resting in the heart of the small town of Banner Elk, sits nonetheless in the midst of natural mountain beauty.  When the weather was especially nice, or I wanted a break from studying and schoolwork, I would wander the trails near the campus.  It was this beauty, history, and quiet splendor which compelled me to major in wildlife biology.  The frequent hikes and outdoor excursions, a necessity of the major, deepened my understanding of and respect for this unique ecosystem and made me want to explore it further.  Having exhausted the campus trails, I was constantly seeking that next and greater ‘high.’

As someone unfamiliar with the area, I thought it wise to do a little research before hitting just any trail I found a sign for.  This brings me to my next reason for compiling this blog—while many residents of the area and experienced hikers are familiar with the local trail system, there seemed to be little information out there for those of us who aren’t.  I decided to begin with the Blue Ridge Parkway trails, because they are usually well-marked and maintained.  The BRP is a well-known area landmark, a scenic byway that traverses through (mostly) undisturbed forests and meadows and provides visitors access to the many diverse biological features and breathtaking views of the southern Appalachians.  I expected detailed information about each trail would be readily available, but most websites don’t go beyond listing the distance and difficulty level, and a very short descriptive phrase, like ‘a loop that follows a stream.’  In my experience, the difficulty level is more a matter of opinion, and a description including change in elevation, type of terrain, and gradient, among other details, would be more helpful.  When I was researching trails for my next hike, I wanted to know things like:  Are there stairs or ladders?  Does it get slippery or muddy after it rains?  Does it cross a stream or require rock-hopping?  And particularly for trails labeled ‘strenuous,’ what elements make it so?

My goal is to personally hike each trail on the parkway and provide a detailed description of my hiking experience–its physical and biological features, a difficulty rating, anything else that made an impression, and a few pictures from the trail.  I plan to work my way through all of them, in no particular order.  I live in northwestern North Carolina, so I will start with trails in this area and gradually branch out.  My hope is that this blog could serve as a sort of guide or reference for Parkway hikers, particularly those who are less experienced or unfamiliar with the area.

Lace up those boots, grab a walking stick, toss a water bottle in your pack, and let’s hit the trail!


One Response to “About”

  1. I really am looking forward to this sight. You are very good at explaining details of what you intend to relay to the readers-I look forward to seeing more from you

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