Puneet's Birthday on Blue Ridge (08/08/03)

Last updated 8/11/03                                                                                                                                     Russian Translation Here           

My 25th birthday was spent driving (and hiking) along Blue Ridge parkway. We started the morning at the Alpine Inn in Little Switzerland, NC, where we had a wonderful breakfast on the balcony with an incredible view of the mountains. I also got a piece of birthday cake from the owner, who learned from Daria that it was my birthday. Instead of simply wishing me a happy birthday, as Daria had hoped he would, he brought out a piece of chocolate mint cake with a single candle on it. It turns out that his birthday had been the previous day and so he still had some of his own birthday cake left over, which he graciously offered me. My poor sweetheart had to do with that piece of birthday cake, some room decoration and a card because there was nothing suitable as a birthday gift, considering that we're travelling and there isn't room in the car for any extra items... I still feel very bad about it and will do my best to compensate as soon as I get a chance! That's a promise.

During the day we managed some challenging hikes, including a "difficult" one to the gorge shown below (the first set of pictures where we are at the base of a river). We saw many picturesque nature thingies on our hikes, including cascades, mushrooms, rhododendrons, and misty views of the mountains, which are all shown below for your pleasure.

I can no longer remember which exact day brought us these unexpected pleasures, so I'm just going to lump them into the birthday experience. At some point, while driving along Blue Ridge, we saw a number of cars parked on the side of the road and some people busily crouching on a hill. Intrigued, we stopped too and were rewarded with a few handfuls of wild blueberries; the hillside was covered with blueberry bushes, and in the absence of park rangers to fine us, encouraged by the example of other vacationers, we fell on the darling little plants and discovered (or, in my case, remembered) what blueberries should taste like when they are ripened by the sun and eaten right off the bush. Those sad-looking things with blueberry label that you get from the store can never come close to the real thing!

Our other encounters with wildlife mostly involved deer. Twice we scared them off on hikes; in one case Puneet got to stare at a deer face-to-face at a distance of maybe 20 feet before it took to flight. We also saw some grazing along the road as we drove in the evenings, when deer come out into the clearings (I guess Blue Ridge Parkway is the biggest open space in the heavily wooded area, so it's not at all uncommon to see deer feeding right on the side of the road). Once a deer crossed the road right in front of our car, which Puneet promptly stopped, and I learned why they tell you not to start driving immediately once the deer is off the road: as often as not, it will be followed by fawns. In our case, there were 2 fawns who crossed over after their mother at 10-second intervals, and they were about the most graceful beings I had ever seen!

Now, the "brave Cherokee" picture below is taken on the Blowing Rock, a natural curiosity a little ways' off the Parkway. Supposedly, the wind currents around the rock are such that under favourable weather conditions lightweight things (even as heavy as a penny!), thrown off the rock, get blown back up. We must have arrived on an unfavourable day, since our pennies plunged down into the valley instead of coming back up. Nevertheless, I liked the Indian legend about this place: once upon a time a beatiful Indian princess lived in a house on top of the rock, hidden from the world by her father the Chief. One day a Cherokee brave, hunting in the forest below, saw the beautiful maid and instantly fell in love with her. He came up to the rock and stayed with his love for a long time until one day he remembered his duty to his people and felt he must go back to them and serve as a warrior. The princess cried and implored him not to leave, and he himself was so torn between love and duty he did not know what to do. Unable to make the terrible choice, he jumped off the rock. The girl prayed to the gods to bring him back safe and sound, and in answer to her prayers, the winds blew the lad back into her arms. Since that day, the place has been called Blowing Rock.


Brave Cherokee on the Blowing Rock       In the Linville Gorge       Resting after a strenuous hike       Linville Falls, upper view      

I give you -- The Incredible Hiking Mehras!!! <trumpets>

And now for some nature views... We are considering putting together a calendar with these :)

Cascades       An overlook on Blue Ridge       Rodhodendron in bloom       Mushroom on a trail at Linville Falls       Dripping pine tree in the rain