Having gotten our fix of hiking for the moment we arrived in Asheville a day early in order to spend a lazy day floating the French Broad River that runs through town. Lazy would not be a word I would use to describe this adventure. What was promised to be a two hour float turned into a four hour paddle trip. The only problem was we didn’t have any paddles. A sustained 10 to 25 mph head wind funneled directly up river at us and kept us stagnantly floating in place. Without the help of our arms moving us along I truly believe we would still be on that river.
The fifteenth annual Asheville Mountain Fest takes place every memorial day weekend. Like Trail Days, Becky and I manned the Backpacker Get Out More Tent. At our booth we had a mix of all our sponsors gear for festival attendees to play with along with an hour each day where we sampled both our Good To-Go dehydrated meals and PepPod energy drinks. This festival was in stark contrast to the hiker festival last weekend. It was very laid back and relaxing. There was a beer garden and live music almost all day long.
After the crazy weekend of Trail Days, Becky and I were anxious to actually get out on a trail ourselves. Being in nature refreshes us way more than a lazy day at the beach, an unproductive day vegging out to television or laying by a pool any day. Not that there isn’t a time and place for each of those activities, but we needed to be out on a trail.
We had a few days to kill before our second of five festivals this summer. So we headed up into the hills and trekked into the wide vistas of Shining Rock Wilderness. This was a much needed welcoming reprieve from the limited views offered in the Smoky Mountains that we had to this point spent so much time in. Perceptibly named, the area contained shining granite rock outcroppings shimmering far off in the distance as well as patches directly under our feet. As much as I love the vibrant green vegetation that blankets every inch of the mountains and valleys in this land, seeing exposed rock really excites me. In fact the slick rock desert of the Southwest is one of my favorite places in the whole world.
Asheville Mountain Fest is a very family friendly festival. Over a quarter of the festival grounds is dedicated to a kids fun zone. Throughout the weekend Becky and I interacted and watched individuals, couples and families run around in the unforgiving sun. I don’t think I saw a cloud in the sky all three days. Many small children and babies held their parents hands or were pushed around in their strollers by our booth fully exposed to the intense rays of the sun. We had a small amount of gear to give away from our sponsors including roughly ten UV sun protection buffs. I started giving these buffs out to many of the small children. I wanted to take pictures of all the little pink babies passed out in the sun in their strollers and start a new hashtag on instagram and twitter: #putabuffonthatbaby! But Becky wouldn’t let me?!
The day after the festival we headed north of the town to check out Navitat Canopy Adventures, an exciting Zip Line attraction located in the steep lush mountains adjacent to the Blue Ridge. Navitat had occupied a booth across from ours during the festival and had offered to have us come up and check out the tour. Becky had gone zip lining once before and this would be my first time. The second and longest of the lines crossed a valley/gorge nearly 3/4 of a mile long. Our guide informed us that speeds of near 60 mph could be reached on this line. The experience was exhilarating and peaceful at the same time. When you were first launched off the platform the adrenaline was definitely pumping but once you were clear of the trees and soared above them the serenity of the area overwhelmed the senses. The area surrounding the town of Asheville is one of my favorite places in the Eastern states.
Binge drifting is a way of life for us. Since we met in 2008, we have worked seasonally in 10 different states, driven across this amazing country of ours countless times, hiked from Mexico to Canada, bicycled from coast to coast, and traveled the world. We hope you enjoy these tales of our journey chasing adventure!