You can’t drive through the green, pastoral country roads of Western North Carolina without seeing barns. It’s always fun to see a barn. Barns of all types and styles. Barns mostly in a state of disrepair. Barns that aren’t going to be in existence for the next generation to enjoy. I can’t imagine these mountain landscapes without barns.
The Appalachian Barn Alliance was created to preserve the memories of these barns and document their significant role in the history and development of this rural region. Through architectural drawings, photographs, and data collection the group has documented about 90 historic barns in Madison County, North Carolina. Read the rest of this entry
Wherever you find yourself it’s always interesting to tap into the events going on in the local community. Some of the most rewarding experiences are because you find out what is going on when you are in an area. Case in point – I recently attended my first Horse Pull, in the mountains of North Carolina.
We watched six beautifully groomed and well-cared for two-horse teams pull a cart filled with cement building blocks. Pull weight started at 3,000 pounds and blocks were added in increments of 1,000 or 500 until only one team was able to pull the cart the required 27.5’. The larger heavyweight teams didn’t have to start until the cart held 5,000 lbs. Some of these draft horses are working farm animals and watching them you could see why having a good team would have been essential for early settlers.
We returned to Lake Toxaway this year, at the invitation of good friends (thanks!) and once again had some wonderful new adventures. Who doesn’t love a mountain lake? And we enjoyed the hospitality of another Florida friend when he gave us a first-rate boat tour. It was interesting to learn about the history of some of the beautiful lake-front estates and even more interesting to hear current neighborhood tidbits. We even saw a bear scouting for food just below the deck of the house.
As a preservation advocate, I’m always up for anything historic and we visited the Cashiers Designer Showhouse, Fox Tail, presented by the Cashiers Historical Society. I wasn’t that thrilled with the showhouse, but enjoyed the 1920 cottage on the 42-acre property that was also open to tour. The Historic Lawrence Monteith Cabin was open as a joint venture with the Glenville Area Historical Society.
The three-bedroom house still has the original doors and windows with rope pulleys. The sawmill that provided the boards to build the house and the original farm fields were covered by Lake Glenville in 1941. Although electricity and plumbing were added in the 1940s, the three-bedroom home never had an indoor bathroom.
It was a nice glimpse into past mountain living.
For years I’d heard mention of a nearby spot where kids loved to swim and dive – this is it. Locally known as Trash Can Falls, it’s officially Laurel Creek Falls. The falls aren’t the star of the show here, it’s the hidden setting and opportunity to jump and play. We just enjoyed watching.
Students from nearby Appalachian State University mingle with local kids to scramble around the boulders and test the waters with jumps ranging from heights of 10-30 feet. The unmarked setting gives the spot a hidden waterhole atmosphere and you can just imagine Huck Finn stopping off for a swim. The river is a beautiful spot and we thought one smart couple had a great idea to hang their hammock between the trees along the shady bank.
Someone, likely unofficial, has placed a metal grate between the rocks to facilitate movement over a chasm.
One local student told me it was called Trash Can Falls because of its cylindrical shape, but further research explains that in years past a former recycle/dumpster site (called a “Convenience Center” in North Carolina), used to be the landmark for the trailhead. Today it’s hard to find.
From Boone, NC, head towards Tennessee on Hwy 421 and hang a left on Highway 321. After a few miles, just past a concrete bridge, you will see a small gravel parking area on your right (a sign for Laurel Creek Road is on your left). Park here, cross the street and enter the woods. In just minutes you’re there.
A short, but rigorous hike will reward you with views of the lovely Crab Orchard Falls. Even in this very dry summer, the sound of the water rushing over the rocks is powerful. The falls are extensive and have many levels, but from what I have read, have never been officially measured. Visitors park at the Valle Crucis Episcopal Church, in the upper parking lot. It is well-marked where you should and shouldn’t park and signs will direct you to the trail leading to the Falls.
The 1/2 mile hike takes you up 500′ to an elevation of 3,110′. Benches are conventionality placed every 1/10 of a mile to take any needed breaks. After reaching the top elevation, you will head down towards a network of boardwalks leading to the falls. The boardwalks are not in the best condition and it seems some restoration work may be underway. In general, use caution due to lose rocks, prolific tree roots and the potentially slippery wood walkway. It’s worth the trip.
48 degrees. Glittering golden leaves. Carolina Blue sky and a mountain view that doesn’t stop.
We took an afternoon break from packing-up to head south, and enjoyed our last hike of the season, to The Cascades. A short 30-minute walk along a well-maintained trail leads to the beautiful falls located in E.B. Jeffress Park at mile marker 272 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Deep Gap. You hear the it before you see it. Falls Creek looks deceptively serene until you reach The Cascades which are roaring down a steep rock-face stretching as far down as you can see. Eventually the water will meet the Atlantic Ocean at Winyah Bay, SC.
Of note: The 600 acre E.B. Jeffress Park has picnic and bathroom facilities at The Cascades parking area. Markers with information about the trees and foliage are placed all along the trail; unfortunately about 75% of the descriptive plaques are missing.
Rain or shine our friend’s Pig Pick’n annual event goes on; this was the 9th year for this local party held deep in the woods on a historic homestead on Grandmother Mountain. Amazing smoked pig, chicken, brisket and goose. Not to be overlooked, were the incredible accompaniments everyone brought to share, fresh backed bread, tomato pie, sides made with fresh veggies, homemade cakes and pies. The event is for family and friends who come from as far away as New York to enjoy one another, good humor and great food while listening to some inspired local musicians. But it’s the great people assembled that make it a truly special time to share, and the rain didn’t dampen the good cheer or hearty appetites.
To top it off, we saw a black bear on the way home!