Friday, July 6, 2012

Grandfather Mountain Highland Games coming up

The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games are coming up July 12-15. I have never made it to this event, but it is one of those quintessential North Carolina Bucket List items. More than 100 Scottish clans and societies sponsor this celebration of Scottish dance, music and athletics at McRae Meadows in Linville --at the base of Grandfather Mountain.

This link will take you to information about the Games, as well as ticket info.

Unfortunately, Our Mountain Place is not available for this weekend. Sorry!

7D area 'a cyclist's paradise' has a piece on the Seven Devils/Hawksnest area -- and what it is like for a serious cyclist.

Aaronwest gives us the commentary:

The climb started in the nearby neighborhood of Seven Devils. This is a small resort town with an off-season population of a mere 129. The climb started easily enough when I turned from Highway 105, but it wasn’t long until it turned up into double digit grades and stayed there. It was a challenging climb, with a few tight switchbacks and steep pitches. Little did I know how much more would be coming ahead.

After navigating the steep grades for just under two miles, I found myself in the heart of Seven Devils. It really is a small town, an intersection really, with an apartment complex and a Town Hall. There were lots of small roads that led to other houses and resort facilities, which I didn’t try, although I imagine there are steep climbs throughout the town.

I followed [author] John’s [Summerson] instructions for what he calls the Hawksnest climb. This is a ski resort that boasts of snow tubing and the longest zipline in the Southeast. I turned onto Skyland Rd, which would take me almost to the resort. This was a much more moderate grade, maybe in the 3-4% range, with a downhill about midway and one steep hill just to keep me on my toes.

I could see the ski hills up ahead in the distance, and knew this meant my next turn onto Skiview Road would be coming up. I saw a seriously steep road to the right and thought that was probably a driveway. To my surprise and anguish, that was my turn. The steep grade hit me like a ton of bricks. It must have been right around 15%. It stayed in that vicinity for the majority of the climb. After getting past the first pitch, I saw was a retiree couple driving down the mountain. They looked at me curiously as I huffed and puffed slowly my way up the insanely steep hill.

I came across another pitch in the road, with a sign that said blind hill ahead. That can’t be good. It wasn’t. That was easily the steepest section. My Garmin showed that it was mostly in the 18% vicinity with a peak of 20% at the end.

After winding around for around a mile, the road narrowed to one lane. The steepness persisted around the 13-16% range, with occasional breaks to around 10%. There was one last road near the top, which was just a small hill, but John listed it just to extend the climb. This was Divine View Road. This was practically a driveway, as there was only one house on the road. I could tell that the so-called ‘Divine View’ was probably from their patio. I was tempted to cross the driveway if it weren’t for the No Trespassing sign. Not a good idea to disobey those signs in the mountains of NC.

All told, the climb was about 4 miles, of which I averaged between 5-6 mph.  ...

The descent wasn’t much better. With narrow roads and steep grades, I found myself sitting on the brakes, wearing out my hands. I had to stop a couple times. It was a relief to get back to Hawksnest, where the road eased off. Seven Devils was a technical, but manageable descent.

It was tough to leave. The Boone and Banner Elk area is a cyclists paradise. There were so many other climbs I wanted to try out, but alas, I had not the time, nor the legs. Another day.