US East Coast 2018: Chasing Grandfather

Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina is one of the highest peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountain Range and is famous for the dramatic views from its summit. It also boasts of the famous Mile-High Swinging Bridge, which is 5,280 feet (or one mile) above sea level. Indeed the mountain is an iconic feature of the High Country and over the decades, many travellers have come all the way here to drink in the spectacular sights of the summit.

The famous Mile High Swinging Bridge.  Normally boasting of spectacular views all around.
The mountain has always featured significantly in our itinerary. But we have not always been sure when to go. When we arrived on Friday, we felt that perhaps it might be tiring to go on Saturday, given that we had just driven a long way from Georgia. Then Sunday came and again we felt that perhaps we should defer our travels to Grandfather for another day, since our young ‘uns (the littler one especially) seemed more tired and needed to rest. So we decided to go on Monday.

But Monday morning brought along a dense oppressive fog, which chased away two perfectly good days of sun. The weather forecast was also dismal, and it was predicted that we would not be able to see anything but the fog when up there. As for Wednesday, our last full day in the High Country, the weather forecast was even more uncertain, with predicted fog in the morning and a heavy thunderstorm in the afternoon. We therefore decided to go on Tuesday.

So Tuesday morning came and the weather forecast seemed just as dismal, with a small possibility that the fog would clear only at 3 in the afternoon. We finally decided that there was simply no other day, and so we headed up Grandfather Mountain in the late morning, with the roads still shrouded in fog. Indeed the mountain had extremely dramatic and beautiful views; but all were covered in fog and we could see almost nothing at all.

But we did enjoy the natural habitats, visiting the otter, bear and elk habitats, and learning greatly from the naturalists who provided interesting and informative nuggets about the animals there. For instance, we learnt that otters have the teeth of a piranha and that they can chew through and digest all manner of organic material such as meat and even bone. The highlight for one kids was when one of the naturalists took them to find the monarch butterfly, its chrysalis and a number of the caterpillars. Both kids were bounding around and clearly in awe.
Grandfather Mountain has a number of naturalist sharing sessions. At this exhibit
we learnt about the elk and got to feel how hard the antlers are.

Our little naturalist records his travel log here. 

By now it was almost 3pm. But the fog had not cleared. To make things worse, the sky was now overcast, and a gentle rain and mild winds added to the chill factor. We decided enough was enough. We were going to conquer Grandfather come rain, fog or whatever other natural elements came our way. And off we went - and we were totally blown away by the majesty, the grandeur and the mystery of a fog-shrouded summit. It was a spectacular sight, fog notwithstanding, and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Into the mist. Quite an experience to walk across a huge expanse with mist on all sides. 

It was truly an ethereal experience to cross the Mile High Bridge.
Climbing with the Boys.

Enjoying the view from the rocks.
By 5pm, there was a brief reprieve, and the fog had apparently cleared temporarily. By then we were no longer at the summit, but we still managed to enjoy a beautiful view from one of the vistas near the summit (named after Forrest Gump as it was one of the places where he apparently ran).
As the mist clears..... Surrounded by beauty from all sides...
We ended the day at our favourite all-American store Cracker Barrel, but not before stopping at fast-food chain Bojangles, where we wolfed down yummy southern fried chicken deliciously prepared with the signature buttermilk of the region.

It was a day to remember.

The Previous Page - Blown Away. Read here.
What's Next? How Towns Are Created. Read here.

From the Beginning - Start reading the record pages of our US East Coast Travel Adventure here.

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