Hawksbill Mountain (L) and Table Rock (R), Wiseman’s View, Linville Gorge Wilderness (deepest gorge in the eastern US)

For four days last weekend we nestled into a cabin in the Pisgah National Forest. Each dawn broke with the sweet chorus of wood thrushes from high above in tall stands of American beech, tulip poplar and black gum trees. So dense were these and the emerald thickets of mountain laurel and rhododendron that only dapples of cool sunshine reached our faces.

Daily hikes took us on narrow, rough and rocky paths, through heavily-grown forests with wildflowers (and salamanders and the gnarliest of mushrooms!) in radiant pinks, whites, oranges and reds, over rocky terrain winding in and out and up from rushing waterfalls and icy mountain streams to panoramic overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Just once did we encounter misty rain and fog on a morning hike. It completely shrouded the view at the summit of Elk Knob, but it was still a wild, albeit gusty, spot to picnic lunch in the company of nectar-thirsty hummingbirds and puddle-bathing juncos.

Catawba rhododendron (L), mountain asphodel or “turkeybeard” (R) — a rare find!

Each vista and gorge was awash with those colors of early summer. Most notable, of course, are the muted gradations of blue that blend the sky and distant ranges. The Blue Ridge Mountains are remarkably unique and beautiful. We loved our hikes, but also exploring the little mountain towns to keep us hydrated and supply ingredients for our meals.

(Clockwise, L to R) 1: Elk Knob State Park peak, Elk Knob Summit Trail, rhododendron calendulaceum (flame azalea); 2: Hatchet Coffee roaster, wooden statue in downtown Boone, Watauga Co. Farmers Market, Booneshine Brewing Company

Equipped only with a hot plate, a charcoal grill and wood fire pit, our cabin made cooking interesting and memorable. Simple, leisurely eggy breakfasts + glasses of cold-brew from our growler of local Hatchet Coffee to kick-start. A couple mornings we splurged on Hatchet’s killer nitro-tap cold-brew, then advanced to more adult drafts with afternoon replenishment from AMBBooneshine Brewing, and Blowing Rock Brewing.

Some of our favorite suppers + desserts were: grilled Friday night pizza (obviously); fresh local rainbow trout (that we caught, HA!) on the fire pit with foil-packet sweet potatoes, veg skewers and farmers market peaches with yogurt and cinnamon; grilled surf-and-turf with shrimp skewers + rib-eye alongside a cast iron skillet tian of zucchini, cousa squash, leek and garlic (similar to this, minus the cheese/crumbs); more shrimp skewers with another tian, this time with cousa, eggplant, leek and herbs, then gooey grilled banana stuffed with dark chocolate chunks.

(Clockwise, L to R) Rainbow trout fire pit supper, Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Blowing Rock Brewing Co.

After nearly four months of saying our goodnights from separate zip codes, we’re working a bit harder to really savor those moments spent in the same place. I especially needed this time together, detached as much as possible from ‘real life’ at home, a breather from the busyness. The only thing we wished for driving home was to turn the car back around for more.

New recipes are coming soon, I promise. For now, have a wonderful weekend, and don’t miss the new links below!

Cheers, Heather

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