One of the most exciting places that Mr. Panda and I have discovered in Western North Carolina is Lake Junaluska. This scenic mountain retreat has a 3.8 mile walking trail that follows the perimeter of the lake. Given that Lake Junaluska is only 5 minutes from Waynesville, this has become our go-to walk, especially in the evening.
You may have figured out by now that Mr. Panda and I are bird watchers. (I'm guessing that 75% of my photos are bird shots.) Lake Junaluska is home to swans, at least one American Coot, tons of swallows, pipers, American Buff geese, Canadian geese, bluebirds, etc. Once I've gone through my vacation photos I'll make a blog post that's exclusively about the birds I photographed in North Carolina.
I think the most awe-inspiring views in North Carolina can be found along the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). On this trip I actually drove on the BRP for several miles. Usually I just let Mr. Panda handle the driving. I have to admit, the BRP is definitely something that takes getting used to. Some of the turns are quite hairpin-ish and the speed limit is 45mph! I rarely ended up going that fast because there are so many curves to navigate. Luckily, there are turnouts everywhere so if you feel like you're going too slow you can always let people pass you.
(Graveyard Fields -- Blue Ridge Parkway)
Pink Beds was a cute picnic area near the BRP with a loop trail that I'll talk about in a later blog.
(Pink Beds North Carolina)
One of our favorite waterfalls is Looking Glass Falls. You can actually see it from the road, which is great for people who don't like the thought of traipsing through the woods.
(Looking Glass Falls)
Waterrock Knob is a mountain peak on the BRP. We climbed to the top (elevation 6,293 feet) and hung out for a long time. The temperatures were in the high eighties, with a real feel in the nineties, when we left Waynesville (elevation 2,752 feet) and our car told us that it was in the low seventies when we got to the parking lot of Waterrock Knob (elevation 5,719 feet). I have no idea what the temperature was at the top of our mountain, but it certainly felt wonderful. I'm definitely not a fan of warm temperatures, especially when hiking strenuous mountain trails.
(Waterrock Knob -- Blue Ridge Parkway)
Stay tuned for a third installment of trip photos next Monday. And then I'll have a blog about the things that went wrong on our vacation.