In the summer in North Carolina, when I’m not drinking beer (ok, sometimes when I am also drinking beer), then you can find me exploring some of my favorite nature spots around Asheville.

Asheville is located in the mountains of western North Carolina, and is known for its funky, artsy vibe, it’s craft beer breweries, and the fact that it is nestled in-between the ancient Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ride Mountains. I’ve grown up in these mountains, exploring these hills, gazing out from the high country views, feeling the magic and wonder of being on top of the world. Wild + free.

There are too many places to name that catch my breath and give me that feeling of awe + amazement. But, of course, there are a few places that stand out to me. Places that I feel an extra deep connection with… mostly because of nostalgic memories of traipsing through the forests, walking on trails, and camping under the stars there throughout my life.

Of course, every time I return for a visit now, I am not able to hit up all the spots that make my soul soar. But, I am certain to get in a few.

On this Labor Day, as many American bloggers do, I bid farewell to the Summer of 17 with one final post. A post of those special, natural, historical, magical, wild places that I visited during my vacation this year. So join me in saying goodbye to this sunny, summer season by exploring the places that grounded me + reminded me, once again, of who I am.

First stop: Dry Falls

I have no idea why this waterfall is called Dry Falls. It’s obviously not dry, hehe. Plus, since it’s a waterfall that you can walk behind (Hellooooo, how cool is that?!) then you obviously are not gonna stay dry. Ok. You could stay dry. But, I just can’t resist letting the mist get all over me. Of course.

Next stop: Waterrock Knob

This is an easy peasy 15 minute drive from my parents’ house. So, I pretty much make it up here every single trip. It’s one of those places where I feel like I am on top of the world. Where I don’t just get perspective, I feel perspective. There’s a little hike that will take you even further up, but on the day we visited, it was cooooold and threatened rain. That’s right, just 15 minutes down the mountain it was blazing summer heat. But, up here, it felt like autumn in July.

We hunkered down for a little while on blankets, snacking on snacks + sipping on a favorite brew. Seriously. Major. Major. Moments of love.

And finally: Heintooga (a.k.a Mile High)

Heintooga is a Cherokee word. The Cherokee have lived in the mountains of North Carolina for thousands of years. For a long time they lived wild + free. Of course, the white Americans in the 18th + 19th centuries pushed them out, causing them to have to leave their land and walk west. However, after a while, a reservation was set up in the area, which is still home to Cherokee today. It’s all a very long, sad, white privilege story that I’ll save for Thanksgiving or so.

Heintooga means hiding place, or refuge. And I’d say that’s exactly what this place is. All I feel are vibes of peace, quiet, solitude, magic, and ancient spirit in the area.

It’s a mile high up secluded spot in the woods. (Link to directions → here). On the way up, there is a killer lookout where you can stop to gaze and wonder and snap photos – which of course we did. But, after that, it becomes much more dense and you know you’re out there alone. (With a few other visitors, of course. But, not that many).

I’ve come here many, many times as a child, but it has been a very long while since I last walked on this mountain. My mom came here as a child as well, and she and my dad visit quite often. The ghosts of our family are in the space… I can feel it. It’s a calm, special place where we’ve shared many picnics and cookouts, and even camped a few times. I felt the history of my family. And the history of the Cherokee.

It’s really hard to describe what it means to me to be able to walk on these grounds. To visit these places. To look out across the blue mountains, feel the water, touch the teeming plant life. But, I cherish these moments that I spent my with love and my mom + dad. Visiting these sacred spaces.

I live my life in tune with nature. The cycle of life, the cycle of the seasons, the ground, the trees, animals, plants, sun, moon, stars, wind, rain… it all speaks to me. I must live my daily life in tune with nature; and having a chance to return to these special places where my roots are, to walk on the ground where I, and my ancestors, have walked many times before, is exactly what I crave each summer. Each time I visit my homeland.

For now, I am here in Sweden. And I am setting a little goal for myself. To being to create and discover my own, new sacred spaces in the ancient, wild, rugged, magical nordic land around me.

So, happy summer’s end, everyone in the northern hemisphere. May we continue to feel the magic of the land and to let Mother Nature guide and inspire us… wherever we may be.

xoxo. liz.