Experience is a brutal teacher. But you learn, my God, do you learn.

-C.S. Lewis

Stream In January

Stream In January

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Blue Ridge In My Backyard

We lived in the small town of Kernersville, NC, before moving to Cashiers 10 years ago. During the summer the temperatures would often be in the 90's and on Sunday afternoons we would head for the Blue Ridge Parkway for a picnic to escape the heat. We could be on the Parkway in Virginia in about an hour. Since moving to Cashiers we've not had to escape the heat because it never really get hot here. Last Sunday we were just looking for something to do and decided to to go on a picnic. We grabbed some beer for the cooler, headed north to Sylva to pick up some chicken at the Bojangles, (we don't have fast food restaurants here either) and headed to Waynesville to access the Parkway. We were there in about 45 minutes. Although it had threatened rain and was cloudy some of the day, the weather was great for relaxing. It didn't take me long to remember why I always took a sweatshirt to the Parkway. The temperatures were high 60's all day.

Sourwood in bloom. Our area of the mountains is known for the sourwood honey produced here. As you look out across the mountains, the white blooms on the trees stand out very prominently in a vast sea of green. I didn't notice this tree at first, but when we sat down at the picnic table my husband said "look behind you." There it was, buzzing with bee activity. All of the views on the Parkway are spectacular. This photo was taken at about 5000 ft.

Whenever we drive in the mountains sometimes the distances are not far, but it takes a while to get to our destination because of the curvey mountain roads. I didn't realize how close we actually are to the Blue Ridge until we can upon this map at one of the ranger/rest stops. Although it is hard to read because of age, the sign points out Whiteside Mountain and Yellow Mountain. From this point at 5700 ft., Whiteside is 27 miles and Yellow is 22 miles. Our house is located between these peaks at 3700 ft.

The view toward Whiteside and Yellow Mountains. We're out there about in the middle of the picture. If you notice, the tree in the foreground is dead. Unfortunaty, there is a small pest called a wooley adelgid that is killing all the hemlock trees. It was painfully obvious on the Parkway. Everywhere we looked there are hundreds of trees that are now skeletons. There are lots of scientists working on the problem, but so far there are no good solutions for fighting this small pest. We have probably 20 hemlocks in our yard right now that need to be cut. They will become firewood for the winter.

We continued our drive towards Cherokee where the Parkway deadends into the Great Smoky Mountain Parkway. From there we headed towards Gatlinburg about 30 miles west. The Oconoluftee River runs along the Parkway and the drive is beautiful. We weren't really going to Gatlinburg, just enjoying the ride and after a few miles we turned around to get back on the Parkway, finish our chicken and head back home. After we had gone just a short distance, we noticed several cars pulling off the road very hurredly. We stopped also and soon found out why cars were stopping. There was an elk grazing beside the river! The elk are being reintroduced to this area and evidently are doing well. I was fortunate that my camera was at my feet and was able to get a couple of pictures before it wandered back into the woods.

We debate sometime whether we will stay in the mountains or maybe someday move back closer to civilization , but after a day like this on the Parkway, we both know we will never be far from this great treasure that is truly in our backyard.


Kat said...

I loved your story. I can just picture all the beauty. I have been on that parkway several times in my life and the nature beauty feeds the soul. Thanks for sharing.

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

What great photos. I wish I could live in the mountains too :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, Lynn! What great photos, and like you, I love the Parkway, and you would think living this close, I would get up there more often. Just when you think about moving closer to civilization, maybe the Piedmont, just remember we haven't had rain in weeks and its been in the 90s and HUMID, lol. Your post made me anticipate my yearly trek to the mountains this fall to see the leaves and ride the Ghost Train at Tweetsie! :)

Ngaio said...

Thank you Lyn for the kind words on my blog - yours is beautiful also, I have especially enjoyed the trip you took in the mountains, very different scenery to where I live. In the South Is of NZ we have amazing mountain ranges, the Southern Alps run nearly the entire length of the island !
I would really like to correspond on a regular basis with a woman beekeeper in the States, with our seasons being opposite it would be an interesting experience and just talking to another woman with similar interests is always good.

─░lhami Uyar said...

very nice scenery and interesting trip in mountains and others,stay well best wishes.