My Life: Appalachia

Nestled in a valley within the Appalachian Mountains, the oldest mountain range in North America, is the ethereal yet peculiar little mountain town of Asheville. On my 26th birthday I took a leap of faith and moved my life here. I was inexplicably tantalized by the sound of buskers playing old folk songs in her streets. I was bewitched by the uninhibited creativity of free spirited hippies, artisans & dancers and seduced by the euphoric colors of her Blue Ridged horizon. She took hold of me. She captivated me and awoken parts of my being I never knew existed. I like to think she was calling me home.

Leaving the flashy Miami lifestyle for mountain life seemed like a questionable move to those close to me & even to myself. Nevertheless, I bid a farewell to the ocean that had been my neighbor my entire life, the year-round sunshine, my family and friends. Little did I know this land and the seasons held more lessons and growth for me than I could have ever imagined. I traded in my high heels for hiking boots with full embrace and never looked back.

Hiking and the intelligence of nature became my medicine instead of bars and nightclubs. Appalachia, being one of the world’s most biodiverse regions, turned the forests into a classroom for me. I began to take great interest in learning about plants, herbs and learning to identify wild edibles and mushrooms so I could forage this medicine for my own health and well-being.

Appalachia is the land of the waterfalls. As a now self-professed waterfall chaser I cannot get enough of spending an afternoon traversing rocky, grueling paths with the reward of mesmerizing cascades and a refreshing dip in the crystalline waters. The wildish music of the falls is an escape from the noise of modern life – it is an invitation to feed the soul a deep song.

Asheville is the wellness mecca of the east coast. If yoga, crystals, apothecaries, salt caves, hot tub soaks and tarot cards are your jam, you’ve hit the jackpot baby. One of the the things that drew me here was the plethora of alternative healing options this town has to offer.

I started here as a yoga & meditation teacher and became inspired by my personal mentors in the community to further my knowledge in the healing arts as a way of helping others in their journey of well-being and self-care. I now practice herbalism, wildcrafting and Usui Reiki.

While nature has played a big part in my adoration for these mountains, there are plenty more amazing facets about this place to note. This is an area that truly celebrates music and the arts. There is no shortage of festivals, drum circles and gatherings to attend that attest to this. LEAF Festival being one of my favorites, showcases an impressive line-up of international artists from around the globe in the Spring & Fall annually.

Maybe, it is because Asheville sits on the largest deposit of quartz in the state, that she beckons her magic upon soul searchers, travelers, free-spirits & people from near & far. The soulful & ancient vibrations of her Appalachian song is sure to awaken the spirit of those in need of healing, inspiration, or an adventure that soaks your soul with connection to Mother Earth.

If you are ever in the area and would like a guide to take you to some epically gorgeous locations or hidden gems around town feel free to get in touch! I love showing individuals and small groups all the magic our little town has to offer. We can plan a yoga hike, a waterfall adventure, a wellness/foodie outing on the town or simply reach out for some suggestions, I am happy to point you in the right direction!

Are you heading to Asheville soon? I’d love to hear your top hiking spots, favorite restaurants or wellness spots!


be well,

photo credit:

Patrick Monaghan

Kaya Leigh

Nicolina Ruiz


Blue Ridge Parkway

Looking Glass Rock

Pisgah National Forest

Paradise Falls

Shoji Spa & Lodge

Author: Nicolina Ruiz

Nicolina is the founder and Creative Designer behind Alchemista Creative Studio. She's a Yoga Teacher, an Herbalist, Reiki Healer and ecstatic wanderer. She is a believer in working and creating with your hands whether it be in the dirt, through your music or through creative mediums.

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