The Appalachian Pygmy Yeti

Whenever we go on a family vacation there always seems to be some kind of weird narrative that develops.  Or it could just be that my mind works a little oddly and I take a very small incident and blow it up into a full scale story as a background for whatever our latest adventure is.  Last year when we toured Scandinavia there was the ongoing feud between my daughter and water fowl of all sorts, until some very nice ducks in Stockholm helped negotiate a peace.  When we were in Zion a few years ago, it revolved around what was a clear gang war between the chipmunks and squirrels, and when in Maui the last time it was definitely about how a large sea turtle repeatedly violated my personal space, knowing damn well that I was not allowed to make contact with him.  Like I said, some form of weird narrative always seems to form and at the very least provide bouts of goofiness between my daughter and I that my poor wife has to endure.

Our latest trip was no exception, as a couple of weeks ago we took some time to do some hiking around Boone and Asheville in the North Carolina mountains.  We had a great time, got plenty of exercise and as always managed to find some great food.  We also developed a great storyline that stemmed from my daughter’s preference to work her way ahead of my wife and I on the trails.  She is a great hiker, and loves to have a chance to move through the trails, somewhat on her own and think whatever deep thoughts go through the head of a teenager.  On one of the early hikes that week I snapped a couple of pics of her off ahead, mostly camouflaged in the trees and greenery and so began the story of the Hunt for the Appalachian Pygmy Yeti.  Actually, first there was a long discussion as to whether the correct term should be Dwarf Yeti or Pygmy Yeti, but I won’t bore you with that spirited debate.  In the end, it was my story, and after going back and forth a few times I settled on Pygmy Yeti.  

We managed to make our way through a variety of trails over five days or so, and in almost all of them I managed to grab a pic or two of the reclusive Appalachian Pygmy Yeti in its natural habitat.  It tried to throw us off, by changing colors each day and at one point even began stalking me in return until in frustration she snapped and attacked me on the trail, as you can see in the pictures below.

Day 1:

Cascades Trail – a beautiful and fairly easy one mile loop trail just off the Blue Ridge Parkway that gives some great views of waterfalls.  A great trail to start with after driving up to Boone earlier in the day.

No Yeti, but awesome waterfall
The 1st and clearest Yeti sighting

Day 2:

Elk Knob Trail – a little more strenuous hike as it was about a four mile in and back hike that takes you up to a pretty good elevation and which delivers amazing views on each side.  Nothing too hard, but definitely a good workout to start the day.  

Price Lake Trail – an easy two mile loop around a small lake.  Fairly flat trail, but did see two of the biggest snakes sunning themselves along the path that I had seen in quite some time.  They weren’t bothering anyone, but definitely took us by surprise.

Yeti in the distance
Yeti sneaking up on un-expecting hiker
Dang, that’s a good size snake

Day 3:

Linville Falls Trail – about a one and a half mile roundtrip on a very well traveled and easy path up to a beautiful set of waterfalls.  There was a great area where you could get off the path a little and find some quiet spaces to sit and watch the water and just soak in some nature.

Glen Burney Trail – a rugged five mile roundtrip down and up along a great set of gentle waterfalls with plenty of places to stop and cool your feet off in side pools and even dunk your head in some beautiful cold water.  The humidity was about the highest it was all week and the trail definitely required some energy on the way back up.

Day 4:

Daniel Boone Scout Trail in Grandfather Mountain State Park – this was definitely one of the more strenuous hikes we had done in some time, and it ended up being a seven mile roundtrip with an incredible climb and amazing views as you emerged above the clouds.  The highlight may have been the series of wooden ladders you had to traverse in order to make it to the top, and of course come back down in reverse on the way back to the car.  A close second was the swarms of small butterflies at the midpoint that surrounded us as we made our way through some rocks.  Never hurts that the day ended with an amazing Farm Burger in Asheville.

Yeti was messing with me
Chasing the Yeti

Day 5:

Catawba Falls – a moderate three mile round trip to the top of an amazing set of waterfalls.  The real gems here were in the many side trails you could take to find great little pools and sections of running water to play in.  It is definitely worth taking the side trails as the main trail was definitely busy and they allow you to enjoy some quiet time.  The very top of the trail requires a small bit of climbing, but the overall view is worth it.

The real trick is to see if you can spot the Pygmy Yeti in the pictures above.  She is not in every one, but is in most.  Including one where she is openly stalking me in return.  Finally, towards the end she had enough of being trailed and the result was the rabid attack pictured below.

Rabid Yeti attack
Making peace with the Yeti

Thankfully no humans or Yetis were harmed in the course of the story.  Okay, maybe a bruised feeling or two, but that is just a normal day in this family.

Feel free to share any of your odd stories that have arisen from a great (or not so great) trip that you have been on.

The Free Range Viking

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