We left Grandfather Mountain and I quickly pulled out the Googlemaps directions I’d printed out in anticipation for minimal cell phone reception in the mountains. The directions were really convoluted, with turns every other mile and a general lack of heavy-traffic roads. This made me a bit nervous, but we decided to embrace the adventure and go with it.
The drive started simply enough. We headed back towards Linville and then drove through Banner Elk, North Carolina, which was an adorable mountain town. I was hoping to return and explore the town sometime during our trip, but we were so traumatized by the following journey that we never retraced our steps. Point is, check out Banner Elk, it is cute.
We drove up and down a road with number of chichi developments and a private airstrip several times before finally finding our very mislabeled turn off. I need to note here that we had absolutely no cell phone reception and, therefore, no way of re-mapping our route. We turned onto Sam Eller Road and immediately felt a bit uneasy. Gone were the chichi semi-city developments and the straight, level road. We were going up, up, up a twisty, wooded mountain road and the homes and the people we saw were getting more and more dilapidated. We pulled to the side a few times to stare at a map and a man in a truck stopped to ask us if we needed help, but he was the last “normal” person we saw before we turned onto…
Dark Ridge Road.