Deep freeze: Frozen waterfalls offer rare winter spectacle

It was cold, but I was prepared. Leggings and Underarmour, sweatpants and sweatshirt, parka and hiking pants, an array of hats, gloves and scarves — it was safe to say I’d dressed for the forecasted high of 27 degrees.

I’d spent much of the past week indoors, wrapped in blankets against the single-digit chill that assaulted my apartment and dreaming of warmer days. But as the weekend drew near, a realization dawned — all this cold had surely created some beauty out of Western North Carolina’s abundant waterways. I made a decision: I would brave the cold, and I would go find a frozen waterfall.

Adventure through 2018: WNC offers excursions for every month of the year

When people praise the Smokies, it’s often the area’s status as a four-season bonanza of beauty that spurs the discussion. From snow-blanketed winters to vibrant-leafed autumns, these mountains dress to impress year-round.

Catalyst for adventure: Field school instructors reflect on three decades in the Smokies

The Smoky Mountain Field School was only a couple years old when Joel Zachary came on as an instructor in 1980. Kathy Zachary — then his girlfriend, now his wife — joined him in 1983, and the field school has been part of their lives ever since.

“We like to say that the success of the program is due to the instructors we have that are so enthusiastic about their topics,” Kathy said. “They have a passion for teaching and sharing, so the person who signs up to take a course really gets that contagious enthusiasm that the instructor shares.”

To free your mind, just get outside and walk

In the June 14, 2004, issue of The New Yorker magazine, there was an essay titled “Blocked! Why Do Writers Stop Writing?” Therein one of the Romantic poets, Coleridge, was cited as a prime example of a writer who suffered from that peculiar malady known as writer’s block:

Team Ruebel hits the trail: Hiking is a bonding force for father-daughter duo

Once Jay Ruebel started seeing the billboard, which advertised the 28.3-mile Trailblaze Challenge hike, it seemed like he couldn’t stop seeing it.

Jay likes challenges, and he knew who he wanted to conquer this one with — his 16-year-old daughter, Gracie. Jay’s wife and other daughter both enjoy short hikes, but Gracie’s the one who’s into long excursions and multi-day treks. It’s how they hang out.

To try a tri: Race day is a whirlwind for a first-time triathlete

As I stood freezing on the dock above 67.3-degree Lake Logan, the main thought running through my head was a question: Why did I put myself up to this?

Wearing only a swimsuit, I was surrounded by a bunch of wetsuit-wearing athletes who were more intense than I would ever be, and here I was, set to swim, bike and run alongside them in the Lake Logan Sprint Triathlon. My stomach growled, either from hunger or nervousness — it was hard to tell — but either way it seemed an affirmation that I should have slept rather than waking up at 4:30 a.m. to come out here and embarrass myself.

What’s a naturalist?

Trying to answer that question, the first source I resorted to was, of course, the Oxford English Dictionary. Therein I encountered the following clues, none of which seem unlikely:

Early book gives vivid descriptions of WNC

Those who read this column regularly are aware of my interest in the early descriptive literature of Western North Carolina. Whenever possible, I like to collect copies — first editions or reprints — of these often rare books. And I like to share some of the descriptions via this column from time to time.

Making it awesome — Cherokee unveils 10-mile mountain biking system

When Ed Sutton first came to Cherokee in November to break ground on a new trail system, his directive was clear.

“We told him his marching orders were just make it great. Make it awesome,” said Jeremy Hyatt, natural resources and construction director for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Becoming a trail town: Sylva embraces the Mountains-to-Sea Trail

White dots will soon pepper the sidewalks of downtown Sylva as the town sets out to claim its identity as a trail town and mark the official route of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, which runs through Sylva on its way from Clingmans Dome to the Outer Banks.

The trail traverses the state of North Carolina, offering a walking route 1,175 miles long that, true to its name, takes hikers from the state’s highest mountains to its interface with the sea. And a section of the trail travels right through downtown Sylva, something that Sylva attorney and Friends of the MST board member Jay Coward is urging town leaders to capitalize on. He also has plans to speak to the Dillsboro Board of Aldermen.

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