Take The Time!

My daughter Shana: ‘I am going up to the mountains to see the Rhododendron in bloom. Do you want to come along?’  

I was undecided, my week was so full, and I really did not have the time . . 

But, I also know how much she loves doing this. Last year one morning, after dropping the boys off at school, she texted me saying, 'I'm going up to the mountains and drive some of the Blue Ridge Parkway, do you want to come along?’

She had tried to get ahold of me, but for some reason my phone was muted, and I didn’t see her text until she was an hour into her trip . . . I had missed it! I was not going to let that happen again. 

Me: ‘Yes! I want to come along!’

I am so glad I did.

I had almost let my ‘busyness’ keep me at home!

The day was especially beautiful! After a weekend of much needed rain, it was even more lovely! A two hour drive up to Carvers Gap was just plain wonderful, because, it was all cross country, not one interstate had to be used! My most favorite way to travel! 

Just 2 of the Boova came along. This isn’t their favorite thing to do, but Shana promised them tablet/phone time while we traveled, which helped the situation. 

 When we stopped at Ingles to pick up some ‘picnic things,’ Shana emerged from the store carrying a large box, announcing to the boys as she got in the car, ‘we have donuts!’ They each downed a Krispy Kreme, as we waited for Aunt Derenda and cousin Ethan who were going to join us.

The ride up to Carvers Gap didn’t seem long, because it was so fun taking in the sights along the way. 

Plus, Shana even drove slower than usual, probably to pacify me. She does have a heavy foot. 

Shana was over the top excited. 

Her and Jeremy had been up to Carvers Gap before, and told us what a beautiful hike it was. She couldn’t wait for us to see it! Plus, 'It restores my soul. That is what the mountains and hiking do for me,'  she told the boys when they asked why she had to choose a place 2 hours away!

Carvers Gap is on the NC/Tennessee line. The parking lot was full, causing many people to park alongside the road which we did, a grassy stretch, right by some Rhododendron bushes, when after our hike, was the exact spot we spread a blanket and had our picnic lunch, right there beside the road! This is what happens when you spend the day with Shana, our adventurous and daring daughter. (She takes after her father)

Upon arrival, we crossed the street and took some steps up to The Appalachain Trail. 

This part of the trail is on Roan Mountain, which is actually more of a mountain range about 5 miles long, called a masiff, with peaks topping out at 6,200 feet. And, the fact that Roan Mountain may have been named after Daniel Boone’s roan, who often traveled these parts during his lifetime, added a fun nugget to my growing interest in the history of the area we now live. 

Aside for it being well known for the Rhododendrons and Flame Azaleas blooming in June, the masiff’s Round Bald, Jane Bald and Grassy Ridge Bald, are probably the most interesting features of Roan Mountain. It’s an easy hike, through a pine forest at first, and then opening up to the grassy, treeless meadow atop this ridge, offering spectacular views of the mountains, N.C. on one side and Tennessee on the other. It is a favorite stretch of the Appalachain Trail for hikers, because of its views. 

We chose to hike up as far as Jane Bald at 5,800 feet.  

I know I will return to hike the full 5 miles up to Grassy Ridge Bald sometime.  

Yes, I am hooked.

Tim, who does not care to hike, I am sure will accompany me. Why? Because he likes me! 

I can’t even describe the beauty, the sea of mountain tops as far as the eye can see, the flaming azaleas, the meadow grasses gently waving in the breeze. It was exhilarating to say the least.   

There were a lot of older hikers, which told me the hike was ‘easy’ although I would take their example of using a hiking stick the next time, because of some narrow rocky places on the trail, treacherous at times, but so uniquely ‘paved’ through the Rhododendron forest making it fun to explore. 

The Rhododendron, sadly were past their prime, the weekend rain having put an end to the flower pedals which were laying on the ground around some of the bushes, but still beautiful! It would have been fun to have a picnic up there, or just sit and read a book at this tranquil summit, but our antsy boys being along hindered that idea. However, I must say they did pretty good, considering this is not their cup of tea.    

Tearing ourselves away from Jane Bald, we turned around for our hike back down, which proved to be harder for me, especially the rocky afore mentioned areas, where I could have used a hiking stick to help this grandma, as a steady wave of warnings, kept echoing in my head ‘don’t break your leg,, break your leg, your leg, leg . . .’  which seems to haunt me with every slightly dangerous thing I do because of actually having broken it last year from a bicycle accident. Can’t be careful enough! 

After pausing on the trail for zillions of pictures, which sadly don’t do justice to the majestic beauty, we got back down to our car. Shana promptly spread out a blanket for our beside the road picnic, the bees buzzing on the Rhododendron bushes lined up on one side of us, cars and trucks driving by on the other, all too close for my comfort, but enjoying the setting anyway, because of what we had just experienced. 

Shana suddenly got the inspiration to finish our lunch up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which we had crossed on our way up to Carvers Gap. ‘Shh, don’t tell the boys, because they will complain. It will take us longer to get home,’ she winked.

We were on the beautiful Parkway for not too long, when the first tunnel by Little Switzerland, gave it away.


‘Wait a minute!’ said Hunter from the back seat, as the sudden darkness of the tunnel let him realize where we were.

‘Mom, are we on the Parkway?’ Shana and I were laughing at Hunter’s feigned voice, heavy with a whine (well, maybe he meant it) ‘it’s going to take us so much longer to get home!’

 I decided to help out Shana and said, ‘Now Hunter, at the end of your life, are you going to say to yourself, ‘I wish so bad I wouldn’t have gone hiking on Roan Mountain or had to drive home on that long Parkway.’ He laughed. I didn’t tell him, or Shana, that I too had thought of staying at home because of busyness! Look at all I would have missed had I done that! 

We stopped at one of the many ‘overlooks’ the Parkway offers and finished our picnic. Again, the views were glorious. 

 As we headed on down the Blue Ridge Parkway toward Asheville, Shana gave me a history lesson of how the Parkway came to be, and how much she loves it. 

Tanner announced from the back seat, his face an inch away from the screen on his tablet (you would have thought he didn’t hear a thing we said) ‘all mom wants for her birthday, is to rent a convertible and drive the whole Parkway with Dad.’ I looked at Shana, she was nodding her head in agreement. 

It was an unforgettable day!

Having enjoyed a day of God’s awesome creation, appreciating those who had the foresight to even develop a beautiful drive across the mountain tops called the Blue Ridge Parkway, and those who blazed the Appalachain Trail for diehard hikers to conquer it all the way from Georgia to Maine, or for us ‘one day hikers’ to do parts of it, I could say with Shana, it did  ‘restore my soul!’

What a lovely, lovely day! 

Question: Where are some of your favorite places to hike? I would love to know!


  1. Mary Kaufman

    Places I have hiked,
    Grand Canyon , Cades Cove, Bryce Canyon,
    I also like to bike, don’t do this as much as I used to
    When I was 30 I biked coast to coast, and the beauty of our country was a wonder.
    Thank you Mary for your wonderful writing.

    1. Post
      Mary Sommers

      Ahh Mary! Those sound like amazing places to hike!
      But your bike ride! Wow! Just wow! I would love to hear about that! Tim and I always dreamed of riding across America, but got too old! We ended up doing a 350 mile ride with Ride for Missions from Goshen, Indiana to Hartville, Ohio. I loved it! However, didn’t enjoy riding on roads so much, so now we just stick to bike paths.

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