Home Away From Home, North Carolina

Cataloochee Ranch

On Thursday the weather forecast for Saturday morning was a little iffy but Peggy scheduled the ride anyway and it turned out to be a perfect day. We had to be a Cataloochee Ranch by 9:15 for a ride beginning at 9:30. When we got there we realized there was 10-12 riders and Peggy remarked that she had never been on a ride with that many. We soon realized though that they were splitting up the groups so we ended up with only 5 in our group. Peggy had been before and knew the horse she wanted to ride and she got him. I ended up on Clyde a Tennessee Walking horse mix.

Peggy and her trusty steed
Peggy and her trusty steed

Me and my trusty steed, Clyde
Me and my trusty steed, Clyde
Our lead guide was new having only been at Cataloochee one week so we also had another guide who brought up the rear. Our ride took us by Salamander Creek and is described on the website as “A leisurely ride down Wagon Trail to waterfall at Salamander Creek, then up through shaded forest to open vistas of the Big Bowl and past the chestnut orchard”. That is a perfect description as we wound up, down and around to the valley. At one point we stopped, got off and let the horses rest and drink water. On two other occasions we stopped at watering troughs for the horse to drink of the fresh cool stream water. Towards the end of the two and half hour ride we “trotted” a bit. Clyde started off doing a pacey running walk and then began to do a weird trot. I thought I would be posting on any trotting but in that western saddle and that weird trot posting was not an option. I was afraid I’d be sore since I haven’t ridden in a while and 2 ½ hours in a saddle is a long time but I was fine except for my right ankle. Although it’s been several years since I broke it and tore the tendons it still gives me trouble occasionally. When it began to hurt I just dropped my stirrup and let me foot hang and that eased it. Two times we went through a natural arbor full of rhododendron and as beautiful as it was I can just imagine it when the flowers are in full bloom. It was a great morning, perfect weather, good horse and good company. I highly recommend Cataloochee Ranch for rides. I have taken too other trail rides in the past and this was by far the best. It lasted longer, let us to something besides walk plus we saw beautiful scenes.

When I got back to the RV Jerry had washed the car and vacuumed the coach plus gone to Walmart to get some necessities including the hair dryer we forgot to get Thursday.

After I ate lunch I asked Jerry what he wanted to do for the afternoon and he pleased me with his response – “Nothing”. I think 2 days of hiking and a half day in the saddle had worn me out. In fact I think we both needed a little rest. I sat outside for about 15 minutes then headed inside to the bed for a nice nap.

Peggy and Tony had invited us out for dinner at an Italian restaurant named Frankies so a little after 5:00 we headed there. Three of their friends joined us and we had a delightful dinner. Afterward Peggy and Tony and Jerry and I joined by Charlie, one of the friends at dinner headed over to the Dairy Queen for ice cream. Although I generally do not eat sugar or have caffeine after 4:00 because it will keep me awake I decided to chance it tonight and had a cone of chocolate ice cream. We had a delightful visit and Charlie, a retired Navy guy and retired US Marshall entertained us with some interesting tales. Peggy and I also chatted and got to know each other better. I do hope we get back to this campground one day and get so see them. Tony and Jerry found that they had a lot in common.

When we got back to the campground it was nearly 10:00 so I got ready for bed. Caffeine and sugar didn’t seem to bother me a bit tonight as I slept like a baby!

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Home Away From Home, North Carolina

Soco Falls and Waterrock Knob in One Day!

Wow – we pushed ourselves today! We started our day headed to Soco Falls but unfortunately we missed the little sign – and it is little – and ended up in Cherokee. Jerry wanted to go to the Cherokee Historical Museum so we decided to go on and do that.

That is museum filled with history from the very beginning of the Cherokee tribe. As described on the website “Inspired by the beauty and ingenuity of the Cherokee people, this is a cultural and historical tour without equal, one fused with interactive video, intriguing displays, and a full sensory experience.” When we entered we read a few of the folk tales while waiting for a video. The video told about the beginning of the world and the beginning of fire.

The rest of the museum was filled with exhibits and a timeline of the Cherokee. Despite reading the history one wonders why the white man was so determined to eradicate and/or control the Indians. Andrew Jackson before he was president played a big part in their history and then after becoming president he was very anti-Indian. All in all a sad story but a story of a people overcoming many obstacles.

Since it was lunch time we decided to have our picnic at the picnic area beside the stream that runs through that park. We had a nice lunch and took a couple of pictures.

I made it!
I made it!

Our next stop was Soco Falls and we were determined to find them this time – and we did. It’s a nice little descent and we thought at that time it was a little much – little did we know what was ahead of us. The double falls are very pretty and skipping over the rocks is fun. We were very careful though not to go in forbidden and dangerous territory.

Top of Waterrock Knob
Top of Waterrock Knob

Next we headed for Waterrock Knob. From the parking lot it’s just a short half mile up to the top. Yeah- but it’s a steep, rocky and at times a bit treacherous climb. There is an observation area at the .21 mile and we could have stopped there but we were determined to make it to the top. It was difficult and we had to stop several times. I read later that from Maggie Valley we had gone up 4000 feet in elevation. That’s why we were having a little trouble catching our breath. Well, maybe part of the reason! We made it though and I can say I’ve done it but somehow I don’t think I’ll do it again! It was a spectacular site though and worth the hike. We made it down in 20 minutes, much quicker than we went up!

Our blow dryer seems to be on its last legs so Jerry suggested we go by Walmart and get another one just in case this one doesn’t work one morning. I had a short grocery list so we located a local Walmart and went there and got all of the groceries on my list. Yep – we totally forgot the hair dryer. Sure hope ours works in the morning!

On Thursday nights some of the campground visitors meet at a restaurant for dinner and the hosts asked us to join them so we did. We got to meet some more of the folks and had a delightful time. Peggy and Tony Auth are the camp hosts and Peggy and I have scheduled a trail ride for Saturday morning if the weather holds. That should be a lot of fun. Tomorrow we’re planning to go to Clingman’s Dome – that is on my bucket list so I’m excited about that.

Some of the group went out for ice cream after dinner but Jerry and I were just too tired. I don’t think either of us will have to be rocked to sleep tonight!