The first day of the North Carolina itinerary included two waterfalls. The first is Upper Whitewater Falls, arguably the “tallest waterfall east of the Rockies” (apparently this depends on how one measures a waterfall). The second is Sliding Rock, a natural water slide!
Sadly, we could not get very close to the Upper Whitewater Falls, but we took some nice pictures from the viewing deck, then walked a little ways down on a trail to get more personal with a smaller downstream waterfall.
After a nice picnic lunch near the Upper Whitewater Falls, we headed on to Sliding Rock. This was one of the first items that John added to our list of sights to visit on the road trip. He was so excited about this place when we were planning our road trip, I couldn’t believe he wanted to skip North Carolina. I insisted we stopped, and he was glad we did!
You may be surprised to learn that I am not comfortable in water. When I go swimming, I have to psyche myself up to plunge my head under the surface, and my resistance to having my head submerged has certainly impeded my progress as a whitewater kayaker. At the rec center where we swam in Florida, John had to beg me to go on the waterslide with him, and I was nervous! Admittedly, this is ridiculous – if I can paddle a class 3 rapid, surely I can handle an engineered and controlled waterslide? But I was really nervous. Once at Sliding Rock – on a cool August day, facing an uneven slide plunging into cold water of uncertain depth – John didn’t even believe I would go down the slide. But I faced my fear and resolutely headed to the top of the slide. I made John go first, but I followed after him, and even agreed to a second ride for a photo op. John was very proud of me.
We planned to spend the night at a trailhead for the Art Loeb trail. I choose this location because it was nearby the waterfalls, and being the access point for a long distance trail, other cars would also be parked overnight. As we made our way to the trailhead, we took time to stop at several overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway. One viewpoint even had a short trail to yet ANOTHER waterfall!
All throughout the day, we saw an amazing number of butterflies feeding on flowers everywhere we went. John took some great pictures.
The trailhead campsite I choose from a map nearly at random turned out to be our most beautiful campsite yet. Located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, it treated us to stunning views all around.