Leaf Peepin' In The North Carolina Mountains - October 12th, 2008

One of our yearly traditions is to plan and make at least one trip into a specific area of the mountains to see the fall colors at their peak. This can be harder than you might think. Local television stations give updates on dates and locations, but it's pretty much a guessing game. Then there is the timing issue. Sometimes the colors hit their peak during the week so being week-end warriors that can mean we hit an area just before or just after that magical time.

Usually we'll try to make at least two if not three trips to various spots along the Smokey's increasing our odds a bit. This year things weren't working out that way and we ended up with one week-end where our buds Teddy & Tim, Bryan and Julie & I could all get together and go for a day ride.

We decided to go up Hwy 16 and the northern North Carolina mountains. Our first stop was near Jefferson, North Carolina at the Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. Teddy & Tim had been there before but Julie, Bryan and I had never seen it. Tim said there were some great views of the area at and near the top of the park, which would give us an idea of which direction to go from there.

Unusually warm temps for the mountains in the fall.

We pretty much had the place to ourselves the whole time we were there.

Various views of the mountains and valley.

Teddy and Julie with a case of the silly's.
From our vantage point on the mountain it appeared that the peak colors were still at the higher elevations so we left Mount Jefferson headed in the general direction of Boone. Initially we were on Hwy 88 for a while but Tim knows the area pretty well and took us 'off the beaten path' and into some of the most spectacular parts of the Smokey Mountains I've ever seen. Places that you might not normally find or see unless you were just out for a ride.
We turned down this skinny-bitty little road that looked to me like would either lead us to downtown No Whereville or dead end and I was close. It was as close to the middle of no where as I have ever been in the mountains and it was GREAT! We stopped in this little wide spot in the road whose name escapes me, but that held fascination to us all.

Todd's General Store and Resteraunt.

If you can't find what you need at Todd's, just walk up the street to the Mercantile store.
Shortly after leaving Todd's place we had one of those unique experiances that only seem to happen while we're riding. I have no idea what road we were on or really even exactly where we were, what I can tell you is that we were on a typical mountain road that wound and twisted its way along the peaks, valleys and foothills. We were easing along just enjoying the beautiful day and even more spectacular scenery when all of a sudden I got that feeling that something was behind us. At first I just scanned my mirrors and didn't see anything. Then about the same time that I noticed Bryan and Tim turning around to take a look behind them I heard a very strange sound. It was like a deep whining or maybe woshing noise. I turned around to take a peak and what I saw took my breath!
There was a giant military jet cargo plane apparently flying nap of the earth manuevers in the valley between us and the next peak over! If I'm not mistaken it was a C-17 Globemaster, and trust me when I tell you that it was not only barely off the ground, it was barely missing the mountain side! We all watched in amazment as it wound it's way around the foothills and peaks and was out of sight in a matter of moments. At that point I think we all were waiting to see a fireball in the distance, but thankfully and amazingly we didn't. The thing just vanished into the foothills...
Way cool.

As we wound our way through the mountains and foothills we found ourselves near Grandfather Mountain. The urge to stop hit me, but when we saw the crowds of people waiting to get in it quicky passed. We ended up on the Blue Ridge Parkway heading north and were just be-boping along when all of a sudden the colors just jumped out at us. For some reason this one particular area right around whats known as the Linn Cove Viaduct was bursting with fall colors. We found a place to stop and park at the Yonahloosee Overlook and grabbed our cameras.

There was plenty of 'Leaf Peepers' on the BRP.

The overlook was as crowed as I've ever seen it.

Teddy and Tim.

The mountainside just south and above the Linn Cove Viaduct.

The Linn Cove Viaduct.

The rugged hillside next to the Viaduct.

Looking out towards Boone, North Carolina.

The colors were breathtaking and these photos don't really do them justice.

Interesting rock faces at the Yonahlossee Overlook.
After taking several pictures and just hanging out for a while we got back on the bikes and started for home. It was a wonderful day and a great ride that was enjoyed by all. I've been slack about posting to the site and as I sit here remembering the trip I am amazed that this was almost 3 months ago! I can't remember the exact milage, seems like it was almost 350 though, but it really doesn't matter because as I said, it was a great ride.
Now we're just waiting on spring...