School on the slopes: Cataloochee’s expanded kids program spreads the joy of sliding

out frRain was beginning to set in on a fog-ridden day on the slopes when Annie Dephouse gave her 5-year-old charge, Phillip Meacham, the heads up that it would soon be time to head indoors. 

“We can do two or three more,” Dephouse said as the ski lift swung on its way up to Cataloochee Ski Area’s easiest slope. 

The bugle of triumph: Elk herd success spurs tourism, scientific innovation

coverAt 7:30 a.m., darkness is just barely beginning to lift from the pre-dawn fields and forest of Cataloochee Valley. Joe Yarkovich steers his National Park Service vehicle through the valley and past a herd of elk bedded down in a field just past the ranger station. A handful of cars already lines the road, their occupants standing bundled outside holding binoculars and long-lensed cameras. We pass a few more fields, empty of both elk and people, before reaching a pull-off near the Caldwell House. An impressive bull and his harem of cows are practically on the road, close enough to toss a rock at. Or, more importantly, to make a great photo. I tighten my grip on the camera.

“That’s the bull I was looking for,” says Yarkovich, a Great Smoky Mountains National Park wildlife biologist who specializes in elk. This particular elk had lost his radio collar when his neck swelled during mating season, called the rut — for that reason, Yarkovich typically replaces collars on male calves with larger ones as the animals mature.

Closest thing to flying: Cataloochee Ski Area helped Calhoun reach pinnacle of racing

travel cataloocheeWatching the 1960 Olympics on television, a young Keith Calhoun saw something that would forever change the course of his life.

“I was in elementary school, and I remember seeing these Olympians skiing,” he said. “And I was just fascinated — I had never seen something like that.”

Ski Junaluska Weekends pair Christian fellowship with downhill fun

coverBy Colby Dunn • SMN correspondent

Perched atop the crest of a mountain, with two slim pieces of fiberglass strapped to your feet, that last big push to send you careening down the slope is a leap of faith — with nothing but your own skills, a couple aluminum poles and perhaps the assistance of The Almighty to guide you. 

Maybe that’s why the ubiquitous youth group ski trip has long been a staple of churches across the country. Perhaps it’s just because teenage bravado and youthful agility are particularly well-suited to chucking yourself down a mountain at high speeds in unusual contortions. 

‘EPIC’: First-ever rail jam at Cataloochee attracts 50 competitors

out frBy Lindsay Wertz • Correspondent

After hours of work and preparation, six terrain elements sparkled imposingly under the lights on Cataloochee Ski Area’s Rabbit Hill Run last Friday night in preparation for the inaugural Cat Cage Rail Jam.

The Maggie Valley’s resort first-ever rail jam — where boarders and skiers do as many freestyle rail tricks as possible during an allotted time frame — attracted more than 50 competitors of all ages and skill levels. The rails and boxes were arranged by skill level and resembled features used in the popular X Games.  

The Cataloochee exodus: Story of picturesque valley’s transformation captured in new film

coverRaymond Caldwell was 15 years old when he hitched up a team of horses to a wagon with 30 bushels of corn in tow, leaving the only home he and his ancestors had ever known in the idyllic Cataloochee Valley. 

“I drove the wagon all over the farm, but that was the first time I ever drove it out of there,” said Raymond. It was a high stakes assignment, since the load represented the fall corn harvest and needed to last the family and livestock through the winter at the new farm they were heading to across Haywood County.

Human interaction can be fatal to elk

coverA young male elk in Cataloochee Valley was put down by park rangers last week for repeatedly rushing and taunting visitors. 

A love of junk food led the elk to lose its leeriness of humans. Despite a barrage of rubber bullets and pepper spray by park rangers in recent weeks, the elk couldn’t be convinced to leave people alone.  

Cataloochee Ski Area opens with new shop, upgrades

out frJake Flannick • SMN Correspondent

Michael Wagenseil is settling into his element, arranging displays of ski equipment and clothing as he finishes a flurry of preparations at a new rental shop in Maggie Valley amid the beginning of what is considered a rite of the winter season here.

It is familiar territory to a man who has spent years working at ski areas across the country, including in Colorado, whether as a lift attendant or a member of the ski patrol.

The fastest way down: Cataloochee Ski Area

tg skiingWhat started as an unsure adventure turned into a passion-filled career for Jim Rowell.

Growing pains: Farmers pay the price as elk herd damage crops, fences

coverIt is a common story — a species once eliminated returns to find not everyone welcomes it back with open arms. The return of wolves to northern Wisconsin, the reintroduction of beavers to the United Kingdom, and now the elk in Western North Carolina.  

After disappearing from North Carolina in the late 1700s, the elk have since made a comeback from the history books in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — from zero to a successful and ever-growing herd in short time. But with their renewed success in their historic home, so comes a newfound set of problems.

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