The Pisgah National Forest around Asheville, North Carolina is full of surprises — like unexpected waterfalls. You follow an otherwise undistinguished creek and suddenly find it tumbling over a craggy rock face, creating a scene of great beauty.
The waterfalls apparently are so commonplace that they don’t even get names. The waterfall above, where a creek spills over a sheer 200-foot drop of rock, is one of the anonymous ones — presumably because it’s not by the road and reachable only by a hike into the woods. It’s worth the walk, if only to get up close to the area where the rock somehow splits the water into individually discernible, almost perfectly parallel lines.
This weekend I took a few lessons at Professor Brown’s College of Troutology in Asheville, North Carolina. Lessons included crash courses in casting, dry fly technology, unhooking snags from trees, wading, and the crucial differences in hardiness and water temperature sensitivity among the native brook trout, the brown trout, and the rainbow trout.
It was like being transported back to the in-car portion of your driver’s ed class, when the instructor unnervingly watched your every move and provided a running commentary on your failures — except this time the running commentary was about casting with an appropriate flick of the wrist and trying to get the fly a little bit more to the right, rather than smoothly applying the brakes or turning the corners more sharply. But the lessons worked! I caught one of the elusive and beautiful “brookies” — his photo appears below, just before we released him into the stream — and the day on the water was a success.
Thanks to Mr. Brown and the lovely Donna, for showing the Wrestling Fan and me a wonderful time down in Asheville, and thanks especially for the patient fishing tutorial. Fishing is a reel challenge, and a lot of fun besides.
Last night we took a city bus tour of Asheville, North Carolina. Normally I can’t stand city bus tours, which may be informative but typically are painfully dry. The Asheville tour, like Asheville itself, was a bit . . . different.
The Asheville tour is called the LaZoom Comedy Bus Tour, and it was hilarious. Our tour guide was the vivacious and hugely entertaining Augusta Wind —probably not her real name — who danced and wisecracked her way through the tour, strolled the bus, insulted a few Yankees, and managed to mix in a few Asheville historical facts, besides. She was delightful and fabulous.
Along the way the tour was invaded by curious characters who looked suspiciously similar. They included a scary and chronically misbehaving nun, who was then sighted engaging in various bits of naughtiness as the bus tour rolled on, Asheville’s superhero, the tipsy and pot-bellied Beer Man, and a mysterious levitating seer. And the tour helpfully included a midpoint rest stop where the passengers could buy a local brew.
In short, the LaZoom Comedy Bus Tour was a riot. If you’re in Asheville and in the mood for some fun, you’ve got to give it a shot.
We’ve been trekking through areas of the Pisgah National Forest, enjoying some beautiful streams and waterfalls, cool air and chirping birds. So far, we haven’t seen one of the other natural wonders of this area — bears.
The Asheville area is black bear country, and the Pisgah National Forest is where they live. It’s one of those areas that is wilderness — in the sense that no houses are in sight — but it’s regularly visited by campers, hikers, anglers, birders, and tourist who drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway. Bears often see humans, and are known to prowl suburban neighborhoods at night, rooting through garbage and looking for food. The bears are accustomed to people and have lost their fear of them. That’s not a good thing, because an emboldened bear is more likely to charge — and we don’t want that.
The trail heads here feature posted warnings about bears that seem ironically hilarious to me. Don’t approach a bear? Give a bear in the distance wide berth? Hey, thanks for those useful tips! But some people are idiots, and expect any bears they see to be like animals in a petting zoo. They’ll approach them and even try to feed them and take a selfie while doing so. I’m not sure that posting notices will penetrate the cluelessness of such people — but you’ve got to try something, I suppose.
On our hikes I’ve tried to stay alert for signs of bears. If I see one, I’ll gladly turn and head carefully in the opposite direction.
I’m in Asheville, North Carolina with the Wrestling Fan to visit the Brown Bear. Of course, we had to come to McCormick Field to watch some minor league baseball. The Asheville Tourists, an A level club, are playing the Rome Braves.
It’s a beautiful night for a ball game, and minor league ball is a blast. Even better, it’s Thirsty Thursday, and the beers are only $2. Let’s play ball!
My friend the Brown Bear continues to taunt me with beautiful pictures of the North Carolina countryside taken during his regular fishing jaunts to nearby, yet secluded, streams. He says this view, from a vantage point in the mountains near Looking Glass Rock, reminds him of why he and his lovely wife decided to retire to the Asheville area in the first place.
One of my friends, the Brown Bear, recently retired to a life of fishing and frolicking in Asheville, North Carolina. He goes to UNC-Asheville basketball games, walks his dog, audits classes at the college, brags shamelessly about the special beers brewed in the area, and occasionally — to really torment me — will send photos of the views on his hikes to secret streams where he leads “water aerobics” classes featuring the elusive brook trout.
It’s pretty country down there, if you don’t get sick of all of the Carolina Blue.