This trip started off like any other good trip: early in the morning before the sun even had a chance to rise. Had to make a quick pit stop to fill up on gas before heading into Winston-Salem to pick up my friend Meghan. From there it was a two hour drive down Interstate 40 to get to Asheville. The drive was full of podcasts, music, poor singing, and maybe a few yawns. Once we arrived it was definitely time for some breakfast and coffee; there are so many good coffee shops to choose from, but we decided to go to Summit Coffee.
It is actually right next to the French Broad which we would be paddling down a few hours later. The food was good, but the coffee was amazing. After breakfast we made our way down to the put in at Hominy Creek River Park, and after what seemed like forever we finally had our paddle boards pumped up and were ready to go. The recent rain made the French Board a little muddy, but the current was also flowing faster which made for a fun trip. The section of the river we did was almost all flat water but with the increase in the current, the journey was far from arduous.
Along the paddle we saw plenty of wildlife from birds flying over head to turtles hanging out on a log as we cruised by. We really did not have a plan as to how far we wanted to go, but when we saw that New Belgium was right above the river we knew we had to stop for a quick beer. This is where the trip turned into somewhat of an adventure. There was not a clear path to get to the Brewery from where we were at on the river. There was a small creek coming down so we carried our boards up that and stowed them in some plants. The next step was to scale a retaining wall which was not too difficult thanks in part to some interesting climbing techniques and “whaling” the finish. The real challenge came after that though. There was around ten feet of a thicket with sharp spikes between us and the sidewalk that led to cold beer. We had came too far to turn around now, so I pushed forward trying to take calculated steps but it did not seem to matter. I made it through but with quite numerous scratches on both my legs and arms. Either I was able to stomp down most of the thrones or Meghan was just more graceful through the thrones because she came out with hardly a nick on her. I was somewhat worried about walking into a nice establishment bleeding from the legs like I was, but I could nearly taste the beer at this point. And it was all worth it in the end. The beer was delicious and super refreshing on a hot day.
After our beers it was time to make our way back to the boards and figure out what to do next. It was almost noon and we were feeling a bit hungry. There was a take out just on the other side of the river, so we ferried across and took out there. The next step was to get back to the car. We decided to ordered an Uber who turned out to be closer than we thought. We quickly deflated the boards and packed up the rest of our stuff. The Uber driver was super cool and let us throw all of our we gear into the back of their SUV and had no problem taking us back to the put in. We quickly threw everything into the car and headed on over to White Duck Taco for lunch. There were so many great sounding tacos, we ordered a few and just shared them. Not only were the tacos unique but they were also so delectable. After finishing lunch, we made our way over to downtown Asheville where we tried out a few of the local breweries and somehow a quick ice cream stop made its way in there.
The day was growing long and it was time to think about what we should have for dinner and where we were going to spend the night. Neither of us were quite that hungry yet after all those tacos, beers, and ice cream, so we swung by Whole Foods to pick up a few supplies for dinner and went to look for a place to stay. We decided to drive a tad north heading in the direction of Hot Springs, but before we got there we turned off onto a gravel road that took us up to a fire tower which was the perfect place to spend the night— or so we thought. We set up a hammock at the top of the fire tower and enjoyed the view and the a cool mountain breeze before starting a gourmet meal of Mac’n’Chesse, veggies, hummus, and chips. Mid meal we started to see lightning off in the distance. Somehow something just did not feel right about being the tallest thing around for miles as a thunderstorm set in. Not to mention the tower was made of metal. We quickly packed everything up and headed down to the car. With some quick rearranging we were able to turn the back of the Subie into a decent bed and not moments later the storm was on top of us with loud thunderous booms and rain. The rain was actually quite peaceful and it lulled us to sleep. In the morning we woke and were surrounded by clouds. We packed up and made our way back down the mountain. As we went it began to clear and all the clouds were settled down low in the valley.
“Unfortunately” we had to drive back through Asheville to make our way back to Winston-Salem which meant we had to stop one more time for a meal downtown. This time we decided to try Biscuit Head. We got there just in time--not moments later did the line start to wrap around the building. And the line was that long for a good reason; it was some of the best breakfast I have ever had. I think my favorite part was the jelly and jam bar: some of those flavors were out of this world! Highly recommended getting a biscuit sandwich and using the top half of the biscuit to try all of the interesting flavors of the toppings.. We were so full that the drive back seemed to fly by thanks to being in a food coma. All in all it was a great little escape and it was nice to know that you can find some adventure even if it is on a river that floats through the downtown of a city.