Wildflower spotting: New book guides search for April blooms
The combination of a stress-filled week and the dawn of a perfect, sunny and 70-something degree day worked like a drug, a magnetic compulsion to leave the dark indoors in search of a sunlight-swathed trail to melt my anxiety away.
Mid-April is standout wildflower season here in the lower elevations of the mountains, so I grabbed the newly minted trail guide sitting on my desk for guidance on where to go. Wildflower Walks & Hikes: North Carolina Mountains, is the latest title from Swain County-based guidebook author Jim Parham, and with 59 hikes organized by location, habitat and peak season, it wasn’t hard to find an outing to match my criteria: low enough elevation to feature April wildflowers, dog-friendly and as close to Waynesville as possible.
The sacred animal that walks like a man
Editor’s note: This column first appeared in an April 2003 edition of The Smoky Mountain News.
Bears have always held a special attraction for human beings. In a chapter titled “Killing the Sacred Bear” in his monumental study The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (1922), Sir James George Frazer traced the reverence for bears among the Ainu people of Japan and the Gilyats in Siberia.
‘Enjoy yourself’: WNC duo runs with outdoors-inspired sunglasses brand
For Nick Provost and Peter Moyle, co-owners of the startup outdoors brand Gnarcissist Gear, it all started with granola bars in high school history class. Moyle was new at Smoky Mountain High School, and he and Provost became friends over the shared snacks, strengthening their bond as they both took jobs at Cataloochee Ski Area.
“We worked together all the time, carpooled all the time,” said Moyle, 27. “That’s how this whole ideation came about was talking in the car about what we wanted to do someday.”
Reroute planned for Blackrock Trail
The infamously steep trail leading up to Blackrock from Pinnacle Park will soon find itself with a gentler incline following the planned reroute of 0.37 miles of the most severely angled piece of the pathway.
Eye of the beholder: Outdoor photographer shares love of the craft
Catch him if you can.
For the last few years, Steve Yocom has made quite a name for himself as one of the premier outdoor photographers in Western North Carolina and greater Southern Appalachia. If it wasn’t for his wild and wondrous images of the great outdoors, of iconic spots or off-the-beaten gems, you’d truly have no idea where he was at any given time.
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.