Cloud cover keeps the summer morning cool as Mark Hopey makes the rounds below Cowee Mound. By 8:30 a.m., he and his two wildlife technicians have already been working at the Franklin-area site for nearly three hours, making hay while the sun doesn’t shine — or at least doesn’t shine with the heat it will gather soon.
Hopey glances down a small trail leading to a net — higher than his head, wide as a volleyball net and strung with fine black netting — before walking on past. No birds there, but he’ll inspect it closer on the way back, just to make sure.
Everyone in Western North Carolina knows that once the Smokies shed their winterwear and the trees begin to bud, summer’s coming. They also know that when the dog days hit, the most refreshing thing going is Folkmoot USA’s International Folk Festival.
They all do something with their hands.
Meandering around Western North Carolina and greater Southern Appalachia, one thing becomes apparent — folk ‘round here are quite imaginative. It’s been said you can’t throw a rock in any direction without hitting someone with a zest for life coupled with a deep sense of the creative self.
A growing collection of roadside signs has been popping up along rural drives and main thoroughfares in Western North Carolina over the last decade, and while their presence might be barely noticeable to the untrained eye, they trace the history of a story that shaped the region before most of the roads they adorn were even built.
The Trail of Tears.
“How many thousand-thousand of untold white ash trees are the respected companions of our doorways, kindliest trees in the clearing beyond the cabin? No one can say. But this is a tree whose grave and lofty character makes it a lifelong friend.
There’s nothing like playing a round of golf at high elevation to quicken the blood and make you feel alive. Golf courses in Western North Carolina have attitude as well as altitude, challenging golfers in the most gorgeous of settings.
In this mountain region, there are a handful of top-notch public courses, including the Sequoyah National in Cherokee (designed by Robert Trent Jones II) and the historic 27 holes at Waynesville Inn, Golf Resort and Spa. In the Cashiers area of Jackson County, the scenic High Hampton Inn is regarded as one of the most picturesque courses in the country.
Other public area golf courses include:
• Cherokee Hills Golf Club
Murphy • 828.837.5853
• Franklin Golf Course
Franklin • 828.524.2288 • www.franklingolfcourse.com
• The Golf Club at Mill Creek
Franklin • 828.524.4653 • www.thegolfclubatmillcreek.com
• High Hampton Inn & Country Club
Cashiers • 800.334.2551 • www.highhamptoninn.com
• Lake Junaluska Golf Course
Lake Junaluska • 800.222.4930 • www.lakejunaluska.com
• Maggie Valley Club & Resort
Maggie Valley • 855.467.2430 • www.maggievalleyclub.com
• The Ridges Golf Club
Hayesville • 828.233.5273 • www.theridgesgolfclub.com
• Sequoyah National Golf Club
Whittier • 828.497.3000 • www.sequoyahnational.com
• Smoky Mountain Country Club
Whittier • 800.474.0070 • www.smokymountaincc.com
• Springdale Country Club
Canton • 800.553.3027 • www.springdalegolf.com
• Waynesville Inn, Golf Resort and Spa
Waynesville • 800.627.6250 • www.wccinn.com
The Jackson County Branch of the NAACP will host more than a dozen like-minded Western North Carolina organizations in Sylva on June 13 for an event called “Mountain Moral Monday.”
The event will include a keynote address from Rev. Dr. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, as well as speeches from local people who have been negatively impacted by the policies being passed in Raleigh for the last several years.
Katherine Bartel has a long list of reasons why a NAACP branch started in Haywood County a couple of years ago — and the motives go far beyond protecting only the rights of people of color.
An undercover investigation into illegal gambling resulted in the seizure of more than 300 gaming machines from convenience stores across the state last week.
The tourism industry doesn’t always agree on much. They argue over the best logos and ad campaigns, whether to fund this festival or that one, and who has the best continental breakfast.