The point of this road trip is that it was my trip! I didn’t have an incredibly set agenda, sure I had places I was going, but then I just stumbled upon places when I got to those cities. I wanted to be able to pull off the highway when I saw a sign that looked interesting. Well, when I was driving to Asheville I kept seeing these signs for Chimney Rock State Park, but then thought to myself, no, I need to get to Asheville. In that moment, though, I realized that I hadn’t done any of those spontaneous side trips that I had hoped to do. I wasn’t just traveling in the moment. So, when another sign for Chimney Rock told me to exit, I did.
This exit took me through an area by Lake Lure (which is where Dirty Dancing was filmed), and on this misty, cloudy day, it was mesmerizing and mysterious. There was a small town nestled at the bottom of park with a river running through it and filled with sleepy shops that no one was going in or out of.
The drive up to Chimney Rock State Park was an experience in itself. There were all these twisty, windy roads leading up the side of the cliff, and the higher up I got, the more fog and mist there was.
When I got to the gate of the state park, the lady working the window informed me that there wouldn’t be a great view from the top because of the fog. Then, she told me that the Hickory Nut Falls Trail and elevator to the top of Chimney Rock were closed, so the admission had been reduced. I didn’t care if the visibility was low, this was my first spontaneous side trip, and I was going! So, I made my way to and up Chimney Rock!
The closer I got to Chimney Rock, the less I could see it. I practically sprinted up the 491 steps to try to beat the fog to the top. I bypassed the Gneiss Cave to try to get there in time (which ended up being worth it, because I stopped on the way down… not very cool). I finally reached the top, out of breath, but I had made it, and this is what I was able to see:
To be honest, I wasn’t disappointed at all when I got up there. Sure, it would have been great to see the river below, and maybe even the lake… But that isn’t what I got, I got this stunning view of clouds hugging the edge of these green cliffs, and I wouldn’t trade that view for anything. It was instantly calming and a reminder to slow down and appreciate each and every moment.
I took my time going back down the trail, taking in different angles of Chimney Rock and running my hand along the rocks. I had forgotten that the Hickory Nut Falls Trail was closed for the season and started to take it. I made it maybe 1/4 mile into the trail when it was blocked off, but again, it gave me some really amazing views of the trail being swallowed up in the fog. It was well worth a visit, even covered in fog and partially closed, because this side trip reminded me of the importance of spontaneity.
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