Archive for the ‘Black Mountains’ Category

Carl Peverall

-for both of these images, two independent left clicks will enlarge to the fullest-

http://carlpeverall.com/index.html


– artist extraordinaire –

 

 

 

If you’ve made a cursory examination of this web-log you know that there is something about the vicinity of North Carolina’s Black Mountains (Mt. Mitchell . . . . . . . Celo Knob) and the Blue Ridge Parkway scenery that is very special to me. Knowing that I have a special love of this part of our country it’s surely not surprising that I’d look for artists who capture its beauty. Through the years I’ve seen many admirable works but the creations I enjoy the most come from Carl Peverall, an artist who lives in the area. He paints primarily in pastels on location. Here is a link to his web-site in which you will see that he also does other forms of art superbly:

http://carlpeverall.com/index.html

Also:  http://bragwnc.com/carlpeverall.html

I have wondered how many people driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Black Mountains or along that beautiful stretch of highway 80 between the Parkway and Micaville that parallels the eastern flank of the range have proclaimed “Oh how I’d love to have a painting of that!” If, like me, you have tried to “capture” artistic images with your camera you might have an even greater appreciation than most for the work of Carl Peverall.

His paintings have been difficult for me to adequately describe. In preparing this entry I have struggled with words – attempting to find just the right combination to explain how very pleasing I find his representations of nature. It’s tempting to use the word, “capture” – a term frequently used to describe an artist’s skill. Though I’ve used it, I honestly find it to be an inadequate word because I associated it with “gaining control” of something followed by carting it off and securing it in such a way that it no longer bothers us. This is not what Carl Peverall does.

Instead, he skillfully frames a breathtaking view available to his eyes during a brief period of time and projects it in such a way that it encompasses the viewer. Those who have tried framing such scenery within the viewer of a camera will surely appreciate that his choices go far beyond blind luck. The man knows how to decide upon a subject and then it seems that he immerses himself within it.

I have the decided advantage of having seen most of his landscape subjects and having walked within and upon the mountains he paints. He has the decided advantage of living in the area year round. But even for those who have never gazed upon that part of our beautiful countryside, his paintings are beautiful and I suspect that they generate the desire to see it first hand. It is uplifting to look at his paintings knowing that there really is a place like that! I have a feeling that he could paint during a most dismal day and yet convey a sense of joy or that “happy to be alive” feeling that can course through our bodies like static electricity.

Don’t get me wrong – I love where I live in West-Central Florida. But we have adorned the part of our house where most of the living occurs with Peverall prints. When I see them (hundreds of times per day) I long to get up there where our little cabin is located but I also count my blessings that I “know” that area and have the mobility to get up there often and to share its beauty with you. This is mainly why I’m making this entry – to share with you. All the while I’m acutely aware of the wonderful ability that Carl Perverall possesses – a gift of talent and mature interpretation which he is willing to share with us. Most thinking men I know wish to enhance the lives of others (one of the reasons I became a teacher). Carl Peverall does just that – his creativity lifts my spirit. To be sure, his paintings (which extend a part of his heart and soul far beyond his physical location) have the potential to enhance the quality of the lives of many. I thank him from the bottom of my heart.

Tonie Toney – Picture Page

Colin Toney - my photographer son - a real pro. Some of his photos are in this collection.

ABOVE: A recent photo of my son, Colin Toney, taking a picture of me taking a picture of him taking a picture of me (taking a picture of him taking a picture of me) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

TO GO TO TONIE TONEY’S ASSORTED PICS PAGE EITHER GO DIRECTLY TO THE TAB AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE OR CLICK ON THIS LINK:

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/assorted-pics/

 

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE CONTENTS FOLLOWS.

52. A view by Colin Toney of a part of the crest of the Black Mountain range – taken from near the summit parking lot of Mt. Mitchell.  The building in the foreground is a picnic shelter.

51. Colin Toney’s image of fog surrounding deciduous trees not far from our cabin.

TO GO TO COLIN TONEY’S PICS:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/candelabrumdanse/

 

50. By my son, Colin Toney – a splendid view looking down upon the high Piedmont from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

49. THE BLACKS LOOKING BLACK. Silhouette of the southern third of the Black Mt. Range in North Carolina showing Mt. Mitchell, Mt. Craig, Big Tom, and Balsam Cone.

48. FOR ALL BUTTS, BIG OR SMALL. A sign instructing what you can do with your butt when you are in the small town of Farmland, Indiana.

47. N.W. CORNER OF MAIN AND HENRY STREETS – FARMLAND, INDIANA – 2010.  A 112-year-old brick building in Farmland, Indiana (population less than 1,300 – no stoplights).

46. ESSENTIALS FOR A MAN WHEN USING A CHAIN SAW. The safety devices shown in this photo could prevent a disaster.

45. ZOIE – OCTOBER 27, 2010. White can studying her reflection in a television screen.

44. OCTOBER 25, 2010 NEAR THE BLACK MOUNTAINS. Surrounded by my neighbors in our little mountain community called Mountain Cove.

43. OCTOBER IN RANDOLPH COUNTY, INDIANA. A photo by my son, Colin Toney, of a serene scene in east-central Indiana farming country on ground moraine left behind by a retreating continental glacier.

42. PARKWAY VIEW IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA. Beautiful autumn colors in the mountains from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

41. VIEW LOOKING WESTWARD FROM STUMPKNOCKERS. The cypress and oak lined Withlacoochee River as it flows past a popular restaurant which offers, among other things, alligator (both in the river and on your plate).

40. MOSS ON STONES. A large stone covered with moss. Location – off the Appalachian Trail on Roan Mountain.

39. OLD BARN – BLACK AND WHITE. Appalachia is a paradise for many reasons. For example, one who likes to photograph in black and white can find countless subjects.

38. HEAVEN ON EARTH. A “Sound of Music” view looking southward from Roan Mountain, Tennessee.

37. “MOTIONLESS STONES TEND TO GATHER MOSS!” I pull weeds from the gravel drive where we park next to our cabin but the moss is so pretty I don’t bother it.

36. THE TONEY LANE. The farm of Virgil Oren & Marge Toney has been a long-time favorite place for me. Oren, at 85, still mows this lane, less than half of which you can see in this photo.

35. ROSE-OF-SHARON BLOOMING IN MY BACK WOODS IN FLORIDA. A beautiful flowering plant that seems to require little care beyond semi-annual pruning.

34. MY PERFECT HIKING COMPANION. Since our first hike together (many years ago in May) to ice-covered Lake Solitude in the Tetons, I knew that this lady would stick with me in the back country and the back roads of life.

33. THE VALLEY OF THE WATAUGA RIVER AT VALLE CRUCIS, NORTH CAROLINA. A nice example of a flood plain in the mountains where the favored alluvial soil is at a premium.

32. THIN CURTAIN OF RAYS IN FRONT OF THE BLACK MOUNTAINS. This is one of my favorite photos taken by my son, Colin Toney. If the air were perfectly clean, these “sun-rays” would not appear. Thank goodness the air is not perfectly clean. To learn why – go to the second item at this link to meteorology misconceptions: http://ztechzone.net/learningzone/science/science55/meteorology1.html

31. OLD CHEVY BESIDE STILL FORK CREEK RD. Each year I expect this old car to disappear – hopefully to be restored. But, like so many of the people I know in the mountains, it lingers through all kinds of weather – just a bit more worn the next time I see them – yet – no more than me.

30. “LET’S GO ON ANOTHER TRIP!” Ziggie and Zoie, our two young girl cats, love to travel. They barely make a peep while inside their crate secured to the seat behind the driver in our van.

29 & 28. LILIES OF TOE VALLEY. These two photos show lilies that grow next to our cabin – requiring no care whatsoever. They have always been prolific. The photo also shows a use for hand soap of which most people are unaware.

27. CRABTREE FALLS, N.C. Blue Ridge Parkway mile 339.5 is near the trailhead to this beautiful waterfall. It’s worth the 2.5 mile hike.

26. BLUE MOUNTAINS UNDER A BLUE SKY. I’ve never had difficulty over the naming of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

25. OLD MAN GAZING HEAVENWARD. Grandfather Mountain’s crest when viewed from the north side displays the origin of its name.

24. NATURAL BRIDGES. Ice storms and winds bring down many trees in our southern forests. These fallen trees provide a way to cross without getting wet.

23. FLORIDA, THE SUNSHINE STATE! A curious mixture of sunshine and ice at the northeast corner of our house.

22. ALTOCUMULUS LENTICULARIS NEAR MT. MITCHELL, N.C. Oh how I wish I could have seen this also from the aircraft above.

21. THE BLACK MOUNTAIN RANGE FROM TABLE ROCK’S SUMMIT. We hiked the trail to the top of Table Rock (a Blue Ridge Parkway landmark) for this view.

20. TABLE ROCK, N.C. An easy vantage point to reach at the Blue Ridge Parkway Chestoa Overlook near mile 320 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Table Rock overlooks the famous Linville Gorge.

19. RAINBOW SPRINGS FOREST. Just spitting distance from our Florida home, Rainbow Springs at the head of the Rainbow River near Dunnellon, Florida is a popular attraction.

18. LILACS IN THE SPRING AT OUR MOUNTAIN CABIN. These lilacs only last about a month at our place a bit above 3000′.

17. WISTERIA IN THE SPRING – HOME IN FLORIDA. I’m still amazed at how these spring back in the spring after dealing with our freezing episodes.

16. SANTA DOWN. An empty wine bottle might point to Santa’s problem on this particular morning.

15. THE BLACK MOUNTAIN RANGE IN THE DISTANCE. From 17 miles away – the Black Mountains still cause me to marvel at their formidable beauty. Among the oldest mountains in North America, they used to be higher than today’s Alps.

14. SWAN SONG – BLACK AND WHITE. Just as some peoples brains run a mile a minute as they are motionless, this, “calm,” stately, serene animal’s little legs run below the water faster than you can whistle “Dixie.”

13. ALTAPASS VIEW. From behind the famous apple orchard’s main building – autumn colors adorn the slopes.

12. PRIVATE SITTING ROOM – BLACK & WHITE. Oh how much sitting and thinking has occurred here through the years?

11. TWO LITTLE DICKENS’ – THE TAILS OF TWO KITTIES. These feline “girls” are back to back and sound asleep.

10. LAKE HENDERSON – On the east side of Inverness, Florida – this is one of my favorite lakes for sailing my little Hutchins sloop.

9. FORK IN THE ROAD – BLACK AND WHITE. One can’t walk this way without seeing some deer. It’s almost as though they know we are not interested in shooting them except with the camera.

8. PARADISE LOST. Close to my Florida home, no matter how many times I’ve seen this, it brings up a smile.

7. REFLECTIONS ON PEPPER CREEK – BLACK & WHITE. South of Crystal River, Florida, this creek flows within Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

6. ZOIE’S FIRST FLORIDA CHRISTMAS – my wife’s photo of a cat who has claimed taken possession of our Christmas tree and the gifts beneath.

5. DESCENT TO THE TOE. The wild and magical incline of the eastern flank of the Blacks running down to the Toe River valley.

4. MONTICELLO (CELLO) 1997-2009. My wife’s favorite U.S. President is Thomas Jefferson. This should explain the name. Cello was a wonderful dog.

3. MONTI – 2005-2009. My baby boy had an inoperable heart problem. He didn’t last long. Oh how he was loved!

2. NEWLY ADOPTED FELINE GIRLS – ZIGGIE & ZOIE. These girls have grown to become sweet young ladies – very much different, one from the other.

1. NEW MEXICO’S SUGARLOAF. This mountain is within the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces, New Mexico. This is a range I want to explore further.

HERE IS A LINK TO THE LISTED PHOTOS:

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/assorted-pics/

QUIET REFLECTIONS RETREAT NEAR CELO, NORTH CAROLINA

You do not have to walk on a rocky slope to get there. This photo faces east and the entrance is on the opposite side.

TWO INDEPENDENT LEFT CLICKS WILL FULLY ENLARGE EACH IMAGE

A sneak peek at a famous peak, Celo Knob.

A full view of the east face of the Blacks looking toward the WSW on October 23, 2010.

Approximate perspective on distances.

One of the most spectacular scenic drives in the Southern Appalachian mountains is North Carolina state highway 80 as it runs generally north-south linking U.S. 19 (at Micaville) to the Blue Ridge Parkway (near mile marker 344) at Buck Creek Gap. For most of the distance of that segment it parallels the meandering South Toe River. But, to my mind, the most breathtaking features of the drive are the beautiful peaks of the Black Mountain range which is to the west of 80. I’ve walked the length of the crest of that relatively short range and agree with the trail rating, strenuous. When including the Bowlens Creek segment it is a 12 mile long “kick your behind” hike that many feel is the most difficult in the eastern U.S. If that sounds like an exaggeration, I invite you to Google search the Black Mountain Crest Trail.  Mind you, this is coming from a man who has hiked the Grand Canyon down to the river and up the other side, as well as myriad other difficult trails including Mt. Whitney.

I’ve traveled highway 80 often during all four seasons partly because I’m blessed with the good fortune of having a small cabin (20 miles from the nearest stoplight – in Burnsville) on a heavily wooded slope facing (and east of) Mt. Mitchell on the opposite side of the South Toe Valley. The South Toe parallels the eastern slope of the Blacks. Though people gravitate to the area in the Autumn because of the changing colors, I find the area to be uniquely beautiful every season of the year.

For those who are driving to see views of the mountains it can be difficult at times for a variety of reasons. There are limited places to safely pull off where you get an unrestricted view of the range and for those driving slowly who are unfamiliar with the territory or not “practiced” on mountain roads, the 55 mile per hour speed limit utilized by locals seems maddeningly unsafe. Some residents of the area are kind and patient; others tend to try to get right on up inside your tailpipe – fantasizing, no doubt, that they are in a NASCAR Cup Race. To be honest – I understand that. I recommend pulling over at the first safe opportunity when being drafted/pushed in such a manner.

The Quiet Reflections Retreat near Celo is a great place I would like to recommend for a wonderful view which zeros in on Celo Knob on the north end of the range but also provides (weather permitting) a view of the famous Mt. Mitchell near the south end of the range. If you are either a religious or a spiritual person (or both) you will enjoy it even more, I think. My wife and I visited it for the first time just a few days ago. I was spellbound by it all and remind you that my pictures just don’t do it justice.

Here is a link to a website which provides a map. If you want inspiration, peace, and serenity, and/or you want to have a talk with The Great Guy In the Sky and you are not in a hurry – this is a great place to go as far as I’m concerned. I am deliberately avoiding showing you a full view of the inside of the structure because I hope you can have the experience of seeing it for the first time when you yourself open the doors to enter. By the way – the website’s description of the steep climb on gravel is accurate but it’s a piece of cake if you drive sanely. Our front wheel drive Honda Odyssey did fine. I would not go up on thin tires if it were me because in a few spots the gravel is coarse and I would avoid it in the snow unless I had a four-wheel or all-wheel drive.

http://www.quietreflections.org/

Also, here is a link for more information about the Black Mountains and Mt. Mitchell:

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2009/12/24/the-black-mountains-and-mt-mitchell-in-north-carolina/

Fall Colors Have Peaked at Mt. Mitchell and Vicinity – Oct. 17, 2010

 

Mt. Mitchell from the Blue Ridge Parkway 10-14-2010

 

 

From Blue Ridge Parkway looking toward the northeast 10-14-2010

 

 

Looking slightly south of east down at the Piedmont from the Blue Ridge Parkway 10-14-2010

 

 

Near my cabin (10-12-2010) located about 4 miles east of Mt. Mitchell. The dark green vegetation is rhododendron.

 

Color changes have progressed more rapidly around Mt. Mitchell this year than any previous one I can recall.  The best viewing weekend was probably the 9th and 10th of this month.  Before this weekend arrived (the 16th and 17th) strong winds had removed many of the colorful leaves early.

This is not to say that it’s not still beautiful.  It most certainly is.  All I’m saying is that the time of greatest brilliance, starkness, and contrast has ended.  If you’re planning a trip and you are reading this at the time of posting, remember, I’m addressing one particular segment of the Blue Ridge Parkway and for that matter, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and there are some places that are just now about to enter the peak color of the season.

From my point of view the Blue Ridge mountains are beautiful any time of the year.  So I promote the views no matter what month it is.  When the  deciduous leaves are off in the Winter one who is interested in the topography and geology can see much more.  It’s also a paradise for one who likes to take black and white photographs.   I’ve often heard complaints that it’s “all so gray and depressing” in the Winter but that’s not the way I see it.  There are so many conifers which, of course, stay green throughout the year.  It’s those very conifers and other evergreens (like the laurel and rhododendron) which, in my opinion, provide the contrasts that make the Autumn colors so magnificent.  I suppose it’s all in the eye of the beholder but as far as I’m concerned it’s hard to surpass the beauty of these mountains when they are enhanced by snow.  Each season is unique and the changes here are so very obvious to anyone who loves to observe his/her natural environment.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE BLACK MOUNTAINS AND MT. MITCHELL, GO TO THE FOLLOWING LINK:

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2009/12/24/the-black-mountains-and-mt-mitchell-in-north-carolina/

The Black Mountains and Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina

TWO LEFT CLICKS SHOULD FULLY ENLARGE ALL IMAGES IN THIS POSTING

The photo above is not enhanced in any way.  Looking toward a direction slightly north of west, it shows a typically hazy Summer view of the south half of the longer east limb of the Black Mountain Range.

The Black Mountain Range of North Carolina is a part of

the Blue Ridge Province of the Appalachians.


As indicated below the photograph, the image above shows you only part of the range.  ALSO, AS INDICATED BELOW THE PHOTO, TWO LEFT CLICKS WILL GIVE YOU MAXIMUM ENLARGMENT. At the end of this posting I have included a distant view of the entire east limb (the shorter west limb gets much less attention).  Many people have been in the Blacks without knowing it. This is because at one time or another they have visited Mt. Mitchell State Park (named for the highest peak in the United States east of the Mississippi River) without realizing the name of the range to which it belongs. Mt. Mitchell’s summit is but one of a string of mountain peaks on the Black Mt. Crest Trail – which is a difficult hiking trail. It can be reached easily (in favorable weather) on North Carolina State Road 128 which dead-ends near the crest of Mt. Mitchell 6 miles north of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The towns of Burnsville, Marion, and Spruce Pine and the village of Little Switzerland are nearby.



Through the years I’ve hiked in many beautiful places

characterized by rugged topography –



including the Sierra Nevada of California, the Tetons and the Wind River Mts. of Wyoming, the Ruby Mts. of Nevada, and Grand Canyon. I’ve been above the tree line many times in mountains carved by glaciers and have been to the top of formidable peaks like Mt. Whitney. But, in spite of their “lowness” and densely forested slopes (compared to most of the mountains I’ve hiked) I find the Blacks to be so very special and unique. Furthermore, no trail has tested me as much as the Black Mountain Crest Trail when including the limb that runs down the western slope of the range near Bowlens Creek. The Blacks are extremely old compared to any of the mountains of western North America.  The convergence of the North American lithospheric plate with the African plate caused the compression that squeezed and rammed the mountains into being.  Weathering and erosion have carved the mountains to a mere remnant of what they used to be – more like the Himalayas at one time before those, currently the world’s tallest mountains, were lifted.  The agents of weathering and erosion (mostly water) have rounded the Appalachians and minimized the rocky outcrops that are so much more abundant in the younger mountains. But the soil derived from the weathered rock has become a medium providing an excellent foothold for the myriad trees along the slopes and on the tops of most of the mountains – both conifers and deciduous trees thrive making for a wide range of colors in the Autumn.



The Blue Ridge Province and

the Ridge and Valley Province

of the Appalachians trend “northeast to southwest”


as can be seen in a map of the U.S.A. showing topography. You can also see that trend running diagonally across the bottom-right quadrant of the Bing map that I’ve entered above.  However, some people who visit the Black Mountains, particularly people like me who like to be oriented direction-wise at all times, notice that the trend of the Blacks is closer to true “north to south.” In other words, they formed somewhat “against the grain” of most of the neighboring mountains. Though they are not the only mountains of the Blue Ridge Province trending that way they are, by far, the most conspicuous – probably because of how they tower above the South Toe River and the Kane River valleys.

Only one left click will adequately enlarge these last four images.  Two left clicks will probably make them too large for you to view each entire photo on your screen.



One of the most surprising characteristics of the Blacks,


even to some people who have visited the area multiple times and even some who live in the area, is that the range is not shaped like the letter “I.” Instead, it is shaped like the letter “J” – open on the northwest side. In other words, it would appear on a map just as a “J” appears on this printed page so long as the top of the map is the traditional north edge.  Perhaps you can detect that “J” shape in the Bing map. The image above, copied from Google Earth, shows the range looking from the west toward the east. Do you see the “J?”

If you don’t see the “J” configuration, look at the next image where I’ve traced it.  I’ve also labeled some of the peaks for you including two on the shorter west limb of the “J” as well as the town of Burnsville and the beautiful community of Mountain Air.  The vertical exaggeration of these two images is 2x.


Finally, here are two inserts of the same photograph, one unlabeled and one labeled of the entire longer east limb of the Black Mountain Range.  Details on distances and directions are given in the second image.

I urge you to visit the Black Mountains.


The ever-changing views are breathtaking and the movement of clouds in the vicinity can be almost hypnotic.  It is a place of extremes in weather and there are no guarantees regarding the views.  Of course safety must be ones primary consideration.  Awareness of the weather and its potential for rapid changes is essential.

The new observation deck atop Mt. Mitchell is an easy walk from the parking lot and those assisted in wheelchairs have access too.  With sensible precautions a short hike to a point a bit more than a mile north of Mt. Mitchell will have you upon the Crest of the second highest mountain in the eastern half of the United States, Mt. Craig.  Enjoy!

Note:  When I produced this last image I felt that Mt. Mitchell and Deep Gap were conspicuous enough that white line locaters were not needed.   For another view from even further away go to the following site and scroll down to image 21 taken from the trail leading to the top of Table Rock Mountain: https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/assorted-pics/

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but are unable,

please click on the “blog” tab

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FIRE NEAR MT. MITCHELL, NORTH CAROLINA, NOV. 8, 2009

left click image twice to enlarge to the fullest

Ten days ago there was a fire near the summit of Mt. Mitchell.  The last image in this posting shows that fire’s location on the eastern side of the Black Mountain Range of North Carolina.  This beautiful country is important to me and countless others. Being near it and within its dense forested slopes has helped me to hold on to that one thin thread of sanity that keeps me functional.  Its 16 mile long J-shape is part of the beautiful Blue Ridge Province of the Appalachians. Most of the crests of the Blue Ridge trend northeast to southwest but the Blacks are among a few oriented almost perfectly from north to south. Such is the case for both limbs of the “J.” From the deck of our cabin I have spent hours gazing upon the south half of the eastern limb upon whose upper reaches  is the famous Black Mountain Crest Trail. That the surface of those formidable mountains could be threatened by fire concerns me immensely, particularly if it’s due to the carelessness of members of my own species. Lightning fits into the framework of acceptable but I have big time troubles with anyone who would walk or ride away from a campfire with embers remaining or toss a glowing cigarette aside into the freshly fallen leaves and dry needles of the understory.  In fact anyone who smokes in there any time of year would be hard pressed to get a break from me if I were in charge.

I could not begin to accurately estimate the number of people who have stood atop Mt. Mitchell at least once. Each time I’ve been there the panorama before me is different than the time before – but equally beautiful.  There are so many elements and they are ever-changing – the trees, the clouds, the wind, the temperature, the beckoning of distant old peaks worn by time from rocks that are over a billion years old. Mt. Mitchell is the highest peak in the eastern half of the United States at 6643’ but easily accessible. Between mile marker 355 and 356 on the Blue Ridge Parkway a spur road (N.C. 128) winds and twists northward for 6 miles to a parking area near Mitchell’s top. It is a well-maintained albeit narrow roadway providing access to Mt. Mitchell State Park. A handicapped accessible ascent from the parking lot will take you to the observation tower (also handicapped accessible) next to the mountain’s highest point.

Our cabin is slightly above 3000’ and 4.6 miles east of Mt. Mitchell (as the crow flies). It is modest, barely more than 1000 square feet of living area but it is a palace to me.  The “trout-supporting” South Toe River begins between the mountain and the cabin and flows northward paralleling the Black Mt. Range. The first image in this posting and the last were taken near the cabin. The one above shows Mt. Mitchell, Mt. Craig (6643’ according to a new survey), and Big Tom (6568’). I took that picture hurriedly about 100 yards upslope from the cabin where I could get a clear view of all three summits. I was not attempting to be artistic and therefore did not let the pole and lines in the foreground disturb me. My main purpose was to show you the spatial relationship between the three peaks.

I suppose that most people viewing from a similar point would consider Mt. Craig and Big Tom to be one peak but when once you get up there it’s easy to see the distinction between the two and to feel it when hiking the trail.  Here are two images that might help:


left click twice to enlarge image to the fullest

left click twice to enlarge image to the fullest

This next photo (below) was taken by a neighbor, Carole Pearson, from a point about a half mile WSW of the cabin near the Baptist Church on North Carolina 80. Carole’s interest was strictly to get a record of the fire – so likewise, wires were not a big concern for her either.

left click twice to enlarge image fully

The last photo was taken by Heath Holloway from a vantage point above the fire.  In his photograph you can also see in the distance the scars upon the landscape due to feldspar mining near Spruce Pine.

left click twice for larger image

I have searched on line and looked at local newspapers for coverage of this fire but have found nothing. It occurred on November 8, 2009 below the summit of Mt. Craig (the second highest peak in the eastern half of the United States). NOTE: There has been a long-standing debate about Clingman’s Dome in Tennessee which, to my knowledge, has not been surveyed since about 1920; some feel that it may eventually prove to be a few feet higher above sea level than Craig. By now I would think the debate is resolve but I’m ignorant on the subject.

By word of mouth I have heard that the fire was a small one (about 25 acres) and was “probably” caused by a campfire which had apparently not been properly doused or covered.  Heath Holloway (who submitted the last photo) is also unaware of the fire’s cause.  This part of the Appalachians is mostly temperate rainforest and gets more precipitation than any other forested areas in the continental U.S. other than along parts of the Olympics and Cascades. Therefore, I fear that there are many people, both visitors and locals, who are not as concerned about forest fires as they should be. Complacent might be a polite word – potentially careless would be more like it.  To my knowledge the exact circumstances concerning this fire, including who started it, are unknown. If I learn more I will update this post. If you know more I would appreciate input from you.

The Buncombe Horse Range Trail which begins at Carolina Hemlock Campground and Picnic Area leads up to the area of the fire. The event appears to have occurred along a stretch of the trail that follows an old logger’s rail bed at about the 5,800′ contour. If you look closely at the first image you can see where part of that bed sloped gently upward to the left (south) of where the fire occurred.  Though I was not in this vicinity at the time of the fire I learned from Carole that it spread fast. Thankfully, the response was relatively quick. Apparently helicopters were used to control and then extinguish it.

I know first hand that it’s very rugged up there. The last time I hiked the 5.5 mile Mt. Mitchell Trail to the top (from the Black Mountain Campground) it took me 5.5 hours up and almost 3.5 hours to return. It is difficult but beautiful country. But probably the most rugged and difficult trail I’ve ever hiked is the 11.3 mile Black Mt. Crest Trail. Mind you, I’ve hiked on many tough trails in this country including in Grand Canyon, the Sierra Nevada (including the summit of Mt. Whitney), the Tetons, etc. On one end is the Bowlens Creek segment beginning near a hairpin on N.C. 1109 near Bowlens Creek and on the other end is the parking lot near the top of Mt. Mitchell. It crosses over or near the top of a dozen peaks above 6000’ like a roller coaster. It’s tough hiking partly because the portion north of the state park is poorly maintained (if at all). When I hiked it there were places where the trail itself was somewhat elusive due to weeds growing much taller than my 6’ frame. Along certain parts of the trail hand holds are essential. By contrast, closer to Mt. Mitchell the trail is well maintained and even has some impressive stair steps of well-placed rocks.  The amount of work put into that section between Mt. Mitchell and Mt. Craig is impressive.  It’s only a mile hike northward to Mt. Craig from the trailhead on Mitchell and I highly recommend it.  The view in all directions from the top of Craig is one you would not likely forget.  Pictures don’t do it justice.

A serious error in a 1981 topographic map of the vicinity has been corrected in a 2003 map that is available at the National Forest Service Office in Burnsville. The error was in the vicinity of 6327’ Celo Knob. In 1996 that map error plus my naiveté in trusting its accuracy cost me and my 10-year-old daughter several additional hours to descend the range along Bowlens Creek. But that’s another story for later.  I expect to tell it on this site before the year is out. Suffice it to say, it was an adventure and even though we did not reach the end of the trail until 2:30 AM and I broke a few ribs – I’d do it all over again.  I don’t think my daughter, who is now 23, feels the same.


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