Grandfather Mountain Backpacking Adventure (June 2022)

In early June 2022, I had the privilege to journey with our daughters to the Grandfather Mountain State Park for the first time. We embarked on a three-day, two-night backpacking adventure and relished a wonderful experience. Although we ended up hiking more on the second day than planned, leading to some exhaustion, the overall trip was superb. In this post, I aim to reflect on our journey, the trails we trekked, and my overall impressions of both the Grandfather Mountain Biosphere Reserve and the Grandfather Mountain State Park.

Grandfather Mountain Backpacking (June 2023)” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Overview of Our Trip

We have been residing in North Carolina for a year, and I have previously enjoyed backpacking and camping. I aimed to provide our daughters, aged 19 and 22, with a memorable backpacking experience, while also allowing them to appreciate the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachians of North Carolina. I had heard from friends that Grandfather Mountain was an outstanding place to hike and explore, and they were absolutely correct.

I recorded quite a few video clips during our trip, and I edited these together along with a few still images in a 12.5 minute video using iMovie for iOS.

Back in March, during Easter Weekend, my wife and I stayed at a vacation rental in Deep Gap, near Boone, and spent some time driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was then we discovered the Boone Fork Parking Area, which served as our launch point for this adventure. Our planned route to the Storytellers’ Rock campsite was a modest one-and-a-half-mile journey, ideally completed in about an hour. I made reservations online a couple of months in advance and planned to arrive on Sunday afternoon, which gave us plenty of time to hike into camp and set up.

Grandfather Mountain Backpacking (June 2023)” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Impressions of Storyteller’s Rock and the Nuwati Trail

The Nuwati Trail, leading to Storyteller’s Rock, isn’t particularly challenging, but it is rocky with many roots. It’s now essential to make camping reservations online and fill out a written camping form upon arrival, noting your plans and emergency contact information.

I chose Storyteller’s Rock due to its impressive views and reported native history, as well as its proximity to several streams and water sources. Purifying water is crucial in the backcountry, and I recorded a short video demonstrating three different methods of water purification.

The campsite was ideal; we particularly loved the wooden platform provided for tents and the excellent fire ring.

Grandfather Mountain Backpacking (June 2023)” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

We didn’t encounter any bears, but they are present in the area, so it’s important to take bear precautions seriously.

View from Storyteller’s Rock” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Daniel Boone Trail to Grandfather Mountain

On the second day, we returned to the Nuwati Trail and connected with the Daniel Boone Trail, which follows the entire ridgeline up to the top of Grandfather Mountain. This challenging and rigorous hike offered spectacular views. If you plan to tackle the entire trail, ensure you are in excellent physical condition and prepared for a significant challenge.

Grandfather Mountain Backpacking (June 2023)” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Overall Impressions of Grandfather Mountain Biosphere Reserve and State Park

Grandfather Mountain Nature Preserve and State Park are breathtaking areas of North Carolina. As new Charlotte residents, it’s fantastic to be just a couple of hours from the mountains. The communities of Blowing Rock, Boone, Banner Elk, and Linville are conveniently close.

We plan to return later this summer, having chosen to join the Grandfather Mountain non-profit and truly take advantage of the summit’s hiking trails. The area reminds me of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, which you can drive to the top of, but Grandfather Mountain offers a greater range of trail options. This spectacular area offered us a chance to introduce our girls to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

If you’re planning a trip, I recommend the mobile app ‘AllTrails,’ which proved invaluable on our journey, tracking our mileage and elevation changes, and allowing us to see precisely where we were on each trail.

Grandfather Mountain Backpacking (June 2023)” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer


To conclude, I’ll share a short video of a black bear we encountered at the Grandfather Mountain Preserve, which was one of the most incredible experiences we’ve ever had with a bear, either in a zoo or in nature. 

Grandfather Mountain is indeed magical, and I am eagerly looking forward to our return. If you’re considering a trip to North Carolina, I highly recommend making Grandfather Mountain State Park a priority – it’s an adventure you won’t forget.

Grandfather Mountain Backpacking (June 2023)” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

AI Attribution: I used the Open AI iOS applications Whisperboard and ChatGPT to create and edit the text in this blog post.

“The day after” (Thanksgiving)

“The day after.” (Thanksgiving)

Rain in our forecast all day long. It is lovely as it falls on the roof, especially on our back sunporch. The leaves we blew into tall piles on Wednesday have already started to “settle.” I am amazed how little wind there is here in North Carolina. In Oklahoma, all these leaves would’ve probably already blown away. Here, they patiently wait for us to bag them up and send them to the dump.

Our dogs love to look out the front storm door, and into the backyard through the sunporch glass. The continual activity of our neighborhood squirrels make the world outside our house seem like an amazing zoo of interesting activity.

We continue to recover from the trauma of our cross-country move last summer. I am thankful to be still, to not have anywhere to go today.(Except the gym with our USAFA-application motivated daughter!)

I am thankful to have a warm cup of coffee in my hand, a sleeping bag for my blanket, and my amazing life partner at my side. And two loving golden retrievers who lie, occasionally, at my feet.

Thanksgiving 2022 in North Carolina.

Rachel Reports from the Volcano House

Today in my STEM class I showed an amazing video of eruptions from the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii. This was one of our “curiosity links” for this week. In one class, student questions about how lava cools led me to discuss “lava tubes” and show this photo of a lava tube which I took in 2009 when our family visited the big island.

I ended up also finding this short video of Rachel, at age five, reporting from the Volcano House. Oh how this makes me want to go back to Hawaii with our family!

Planting Pumpkin Seeds

Today we worked in our flower and vegetable beds in our front and backyard. Among other things, we planted some pumpkin seeds. We’re not sure if we’ll get any pumpkins (or cantaloupes, or ears of corn) but we’re going to give it a shot! Later this month we’re going to plant some tomatoes too. Here are a few photos from today’s inaugural planting, along with a short video narrated by Rachel. I’m thinking these photos will make a great narrated slideshow if we keep taking pictures as the plants grow in upcoming weeks.

We Planted 4 - 6 Seeds in Each Hole

These are seeds for "Big Max" Pumpkins

Putting seeds in the hole

Pumpkin Seeds in the Hole

Covering up the hole with dirt