A Mountain Adventure -

My Momma tells me that when I was little, I would assume that meeting some nice person at Publix immediately made them my friend the next time I saw them. Which is why I would wave at them cheerfully, and when asked who they were I would respond "My friend!". Darby says I have 10649 best friends (Darby is exaggerating). hahaha.

But this story is about one of my favorite and best friends. She makes all of my life better. Her name is Emily Elizabeth Case Brower. Try saying that 5x's fast like I did when she was engaged. Talk about torture. hahaha. And this story takes place in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, on a sunshiney afternoon at Ridgecrest Conference Center, on October 27th, 2011.

I edited about 100 pictures last night, and cut it down to 50. So strap yourselves in for a whirly twirly post through the mountain laurel covered evergreens and fall leaves galore. And sip some cider while you are at it.

Em, I know this isn't recent, but it's one of my favorite memories of us, and I had to finally blog it. :)

SO THERE WE WERE. dun dun dunnn. Taking lots of photos like photographers do when they are from Florida and everything is in stunning Autumn colors. Emily(then Case) and I went walking with Breezy, EmilyRose, Kimberly, Lauren and let me tell you. Putting 5 photographers together didn't make for a lot of talking. Just a lot of clicking. haha. We loved the chance to hang out, though!

love this one of her

It was unseasonably warm, don't worry, the next day a cold front would come sweeping down the mountain and it would snow. Ok, but that day it was in the 70's or so, and so when the others headed back to the Conference Center, EmilyB and I decided to hike the mountain, right? Because it was the only logical time we would probably have to do it. We went back to our rooms and she changed out her boots for flip flops (I didn't have flip flops, woe was me), and I changed clothes. (You are probably not reading this, but the boot thing will be important later)

And we made our way up to the starting trail head, taking photos and answering calls on our cell phones. 

Please tell me this is the way to Narnia.


Super stunning.

Texting Ben, their wedding was in 3 weeks!!

Just enjoying the lovely leaves, and thinking about our wonderful stroll....

Leaves in abundance!

looking back at how far we'd come....*stifles laughter*

Apparently, we both took pictures of this same leaf. WEIRD.

love this

We clicked our cameras and sang, and skipped around the curves and little hills ... 

and marveled at God's beauty all around us.


And then we got here. This picture makes me so happy. 

And so does this one. And it also makes me feel sore. haha. See how adorable and peppy she is? Ok. And see the sign, how it has different trails? We went on the Royal Gorge Trail, that really was a drive for cars to take up. The reason for that is because it is incredibly steep, and instead of going straight up, they recommend you take a trail up that doesn't cause you to think you are going into SPACE. 

And here we see a sign for another trail. What a wimpy trail, we said. It has steps, we said. We want to go up the mountain, we said. We were idiots. 

But oh, we were happy idiots. Because this was halfway up, and we thought we were MacGyver.
Case in point (no pun intended) - here's the map. It makes me crazy just looking at it. Ridgecrest Trail Map. See the thick line that runs to the left and then over to the right? Yeah. That's what we took up. And down. Not until Sunday (when I hiked the mountain AGAIN with Kim and the Hopes) did I learn that the trail that goes straight down the mountain, is a much much faster trail down. We could have used that. If we had a map. Or any idea of what we were doing. Yes. 

These were our going-up faces. We were not enthused. Or in shape for mountain hiking. And I was in BOOTS. Halfway up, I ditched my purse and cell phone, and just kept my camera. If I died, Emily could (possibly) reach someone on the in-and-out cell reception, unless you know, a bear ate us. The chances were not high for that. And I was tired. We had to stop sometimes just so I could breathe. Heart condition + altitude + steep grades = no air for me. Emily was patient. :) 

There was this lush field for sports. "Oh look! A field to play in! How nice!", and then we looked longingly at it before trudging up the mountain, chatting about how we weren't going to turn around before the top because WE WEREN'T WEENIES. WE WERE BUILT FOR THIS. We knew we both didn't want to keep going, but heck if we were going to say we didn't make it. hahahaha. 

AND WE MADE IT! Boy oh boy were we glad that we didn't turn around at that last really steep turn, because just around the bend (and me seeing if walking backwards was easier and almost falling), there it was. The summit

We rejoiced. haha (I look like an elf)

We took victory photos. 

And gorgeous, jaw-dropping summit photos.

That line down there? That's the interstate. With semi-s, and cars. 

Besties Victory Photo. 

this one makes me all teary

this one makes me smile :D 

See that white thing on that line? That's a semi truck. Yes. That's how high we were. 

We were in breathless awe. (seriously)

And THEN .... we had to hike back down. *groan* 

I distinctly remember trying to figure out if my chest hurt more or my calves hurt more. Or my feet. 

I tweaked this new 60's edit, and it's perfect for fall pictures. I.love.it.

We were feeling pretty high-on-the-mountain and proud of ourselves. I was taking photos of my extremely satisfied and "it was nothing" expressions. 

The sun was setting. The light was dimming. We had a whole mountain to go back down. 

"This will be easy!" we said. "We're doing down now!" we said. "What was THAT!?" we said. We heard a snuffling. And a crashing. And a tromping. And a snapping. Our faces froze in the "BEAR" expression as we stared at each other and tried not to breathe. We had just been warned that morning that there WERE Bears. And to be safe. Safety for us was cell-phone reception, aaaand that was all.

The minute things stopped snapping and snuffling and making bear noises, we.took.off. Forget being tired, and forget with my boots stomping we would have awoken any bears for miles, we RAN. hahaha. 

And then once we felt safe again, we sat down. To breathe. (this is my favorite)

Going down was not as easy as we thought. I kept alternating taking off my boots for some relief, and putting them back on because of the gravel scattered on the pavement. Our calves were sore and our feet were killing us. And we didn't like bears.

Emily's mom was in town, and she texted Emily if she wanted chocolate milk, and all we were thinking is "What on earth?". hahahaha. Then we realized she was shopping, and had no idea we were at the top of a bear-infested mountain by ourselves.

I remember saying I would pay high money if someone would bring me a steerable wagon to ride down the mountain in. Talk about Calvin and Hobbes. Hoo boy.

I'm sure if bears had wanted to eat us, they could have found us, because a lot of the time we were breathless from laughing so hysterically hard at what we thought was a sweet little hike and actually was getting us in super shape for the wedding. I knew it was a special time then, because I knew her life would be so busy once we got back, and just having time the two of us, on a mountain ... alone, hah. It was really special to me. One of my favorite memories of us. We still laugh about it all the time.

And I just love her so much that I want many more adventures like it. With her.

Emily, you are one of my favorite people in the whole world. You make me laugh so hysterically hard, and you get me. You are one of the best friends I could ever ask for. So many nights when I would have been in sad tears, I ended up in laughter induced tears, trying not to wake the whole house because of something we found on the internet. You are always up for hugs, and sharing in my life. Watching you become a wife and mama has been incredible. Ben and G. are so incredibly blessed to have you. I am so blessed to have you as a best friend. I love you. 

Happy 21st birthday, EmilyElizabethCaseBrower!!!!!

Love you to the moon and back,
~ Jean Marie, the Redheaded Bridesmaid ~

P.S. I'm so glad we survived. Ben would've been ticked.

and here is video proof. I've laughed more than I should about this footage. Thank God for cameras!


  1. Jean... this sounds like a cherished adventure... one of joy, excitement, exhaustion, and fond memories. ;) I love the beautiful Blue Ridge autumn as well... the color and beauty hushes my heart...


  2. Wonderful memories - so happy to share them with you!
    So. much. laughter. Hahaha.

    Is it pathetic that I instantly recognized Woody's Roundup and got all giddy?

    Oh, and besides the sweet memories flooding my brain, my favorite part of this post was,
    "P.S. I'm so glad we survived. Ben would've been ticked."
    Hahahaha - so true ;D

    Thank you for the thoughtful birthday post!!! Love you!


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