shalom | n. c. mountains

Peace fell upon her spirit. Strong comfort and assurance bathed her whole being. Life was so solid and splendid, and so good.
— Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again

The N.C. Appalachian Mountains are magical. We all know this. But they have this uncanny ability to calm you down, make you contemplate your life, and make you feel at home. We headed up to Burnsville, specifically along Cattail Creek, in the middle of October. The roads we traversed were clothed in freshly yellow + red foliage, as we trekked across I-40 + small state highways, climbing in elevation. Something told me that this short weekend escape with family would be well worth it. Relaxing + fulfilling; full of fresh air + adventure.

That something was right.

We pulled into our home for the weekend, a sign, "Shalom" greeted us. The car door opened + the sound of rushing water instantly filled our ears. Tucked away behind a mountaintop, nestled into the rocks of Cattail Creek, a cool breeze welcomed us as our childlike wonders took over. Dad quickly grabbed his fishing pole + disappeared. Wyatt, his guitar, + his Jack-Kerouac-soul climbed some rocks to pick some melodies. Mom quickly explored the kitchen and started her apple pie she'd been talking about for a week. I explored with my camera + clumsy self across rocks and mini-rapids as Jerry followed behind keeping me safe. 

We all knew in that moment, this was going to be a peaceful escape.

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We took a short hike up the mountain which was across the creek from where we stayed. Wyatt, our resident mountain man, led us up through the rocks + trees until we decided it was getting to dark to be out there.  

Wyatt + Jerry went back up that mountain the next morning and Dad went fly fishing. I wish I went with them, but my clumsy self got the cotton end of a q-tip stuck in my ear. Their adventure was better than mine.

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We decided to have a short drive around the area because what else are you supposed to do on a golden Saturday as you search for lunch?  Stopping in Little Switzerland for sandwiches, Dad then had to ride the "Diamondback." This 12-mile stretch of road included 200 (yes, 200!) curves. While he didn't ride it in his little red Italian Mistress (his Alfa Romeo), he did get to ride it, which was my Dad Tax to what I put him (and everyone else) through next.

APPLE PICKING. Such a fall tradition that we've never done. I've had an apple shoot planned in the back of my mind for a while (stay tuned for that post) and since we were in apple country, carpe diem, right? Mom + I wanted to go, and were happy to go without these complaining manly men, yet they insisted they go. It was obvious they enjoyed it. They got to play with big sticks + carry heavy bags of apples, so their masculinity definitely wasn't damaged.

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What nobody expected was to let me lead our apple-picking hike. They put me in charge. So I did what I wanted and picked the longest trail to walk. It didn't look so long on their map, I swear. But once they started doubting me, we took a detour...a beautiful one at that, and 2+ miles later, we made it back to the parking lot. Needless to say, don't leave me in charge unless you want to wander around for hours and rack up some serious steps on your fitbit. 

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Thank goodness we had some form of sustenance. York apples, FTW!

So our trail got rather treacherous. Log bridges, slippery rocks, steep hills. But hey, we made a memory, right?

No mountain excursion is complete without a ride down the Blue Ridge Parkway. And of course, Mom gets her selfie game on like no other.

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Our last evening at Cattail Creek was cold, but that didn't matter. A star shoot was going to happen.

Our last morning at Cattail Creek was lazy. We didn't want to leave. We lingered at the creek watching the vibrant leaves fall into the water. 

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We explored a dilapidated antique + furniture repair shop. 

And we hopped around on the rocks one last time, and of course, took a family photo for Mom. Dad rigged some sweet trick system that helped my crappy tripod not drop my camera into the rocks + creek. I hit the shutter button, leaped around + somehow made it on top of the rocks just in time. But I hope Mom is ok that all of these came out goofy. 

Cattail Creek, you were good to our souls. It's nice to have an escape to bring you back down to Earth, just like the leaves.