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Posts Tagged ‘Great Smoky Mountains’

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

This May we traveled to Cashiers, North Carolina to scout for locations for future seminars and group trips. One of my clients had told me to travel to Cashiers versus Asheville, NC for great hiking and a more outdoorsy experience. He was absolutely right! I found a great Inn on Trip Advisor. (My favorite travel site. If you don’t know about it, check it out! Similar to Yelp, but for travel, Trip Advisor provides user-generated reviews of hotels, cities, attractions, national parks, etc.)

View from top of Glen Falls, one of 17 area waterfalls near Cashiers, NC. Image by Sue Shekut

We stayed at the Laurelwood Mountain Inn, which is a sweet hotel sitting in the middle of beautiful downtown Cashiers!  “Downtown” Cashiers consists of the Inn, a gas station, a number of restaurants (from the BBQ at the farmers market store to the high-end Italian Restaurant, Horacio’s, to Bucks Coffee House with free WI-FI). There are also some antique shops and other small businesses but it’s mainly a two street town (at the junction of highways 64 and 107).

Farmer's Market in Beautiful Downtown Cashiers, NC, Image by Sue Shekut

The biggest find and a great surprise to us, was that there is a hiking store, Highland Hiker, just 1 block away from Laurelwood Mountain Inn. For a small “town” in the middle of the mountains, it was a shock to find such a large well equipped hiking store. The shop keepers we met were all avid hikers and gave us great service in helping us find new camel backs and hiking gear for our day hikes in the area.

Laurelwood Mountain Inn was a fantastic find. We stayed in one of their “suites” which is really a duplex condo, 2 bedroom, 2 bath with a two-person hot tub in the master bath. (A well deserved treat after hiking all day.) The condo had all the amenities of home with cable TV, a small kitchen (with mini-fridge versus a full size fridge) and was built by the current owner.

Laurelwood Mountain Inn Condo Staircase. Quality craftsmanship throughout. Image by Sue Shekut

The owner of the Inn built a waterfall right outside the door of our cabin (long before we came to stay, of course) along with a  gazebo. Eric, the Innkeeper, told us that the owner’s waterfalls were so popular he got busy building waterfalls for area residents. Now the owner is too busy to run the Inn so he hired the Innkeeper and his wife. After spending time in Cashiers, I could see why people would want to leave the big city and live up in the mountains!

Waterfall outside our suite at Laurelwood Mountain Inn. Image by Sue Shekut

Note: There are a number of vacation rentals in the area for large families and groups. Check out VBRO (Vacation rental by Owner), Trip Advisor or the GoCashiers site here for pics of great homes to rent on nearby Lake Glenville. Cashiers Chamber of Commerce also has a listing for accommodations here. There is also a higher end hotel with a golf course and tennis courts, High Hampton Inn & Country Club.

And, yes, the waterfalls at the Laurelwood Mountain Inn are a lovely but a small replica of the actual waterfalls to be found all around the Cashiers area. There are about 17 waterfalls near Cashiers. We did a day hike to Glen Falls and were not disappointed! It was a very active hike with a fair amount of climbing and many many photo opportunities like this one below!

Glen Falls, Cashiers, NC area. Image by Sue Shekut

Descending to the next level of the Falls we were glad to have brought our hiking poles!

Hiking Glen Falls, NC. Image by Sue Shekut

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is only an hour away from Cashiers so we were able to take another day hike to see the actual “Smoke” from along the Great Smoky Mountains. (The “smoke” in the Great Smoky Mountains comes from the mystical blue mist (from water vapors) shrouding its peaks.)

View from Newfoundland Gap Trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Image by Sue Shekut

Our last view of the Great Smoky Mountains from Jump Off Point.

Great Smoky Mountains Jump off Point. image by Sue Shekut

Would we go back? As often as we can!

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

It’s taking me a while to get ALL my photos uploaded, resized and cataloged from our recent visit to the Great Smoky Mountains. Sitting in front of my computer working on the pics makes me want to stretch! So I am going to start showing some of our trip pics that include some simple stretches you can do while hiking. The stretches require a hiking pole or stick but any nearby long tree branch or stick will do!

Graveyard Fields midday

One of the places we were able to visit in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was the Graveyard Fields. This area had once been ravaged by forest fires and most of the growth is new growth. The area gets its name from the days prior to the fire when so many trees were cut down the meadow looked like a graveyard of tree stumps.

Hiking from this point begins with a  steep decent down wooden stairs.

Stairs to Graveyard Fields paths

As you climb down the stairs, you enter a magical Hobbit-like land of too-good-to-be-true green fields and small forests. babbling brooks and shallow streams abound.

Wood path in Graveyard Fields, Great Smoky Mountains

All along our path we ran into incredible flowers and peaceful areas of natural beauty.

After a fresh rain easier in the day, our hiking poles really helped us get around muddy patches and cross over streams and creeks.

Some areas made great use of our hiking poles to navigate slippery rocks.

After a few days of strenuous hiking up deep ascents, it was a pleasure to hike a shallower inclined path. At halfway point, we sat and admired a small “waterfall” over rocks in a creek.

After a few days of hiking and driving, we needed to stretch. My partner demonstrated some easy back stretches.

Stretching without the pole to warm up

A great mid back stretch using the hiking pole

Deeper stretching using the poles

Much of the terrain in the Great Smoky Mountains involves ascents and descents. Using hiking poles makes it easier to cross streams (for balance), to hoist yourself up on the next level of rock in the path and as we show above, for stretching!

The rewards of a long day hiking and driving include vistas like this one at Sunset.

Graveyard Fields at Sunset

More pics and stories of our hiking adventures to come!

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