The Naturalist's Corner: Rock Hill on the river

My family and I were in the Rock Hill, S.C.-Charlotte area a few weeks back to visit my sister and catch my niece, Haley Barfield (one of the triplets, yeah, as in three, Allison and Jess round out the trifecta) in Shakespeare Carolina’s production of Macbeth. We also got to enjoy a birthday dinner with Matt, the triplets’ older brother.

WNC’s deadliest waterfalls

The attraction between people and waterfalls is nothing new, with a couple waterfall deaths per year typical between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest. 

ALSO: Herculean rescue effort at Yellowstone Falls highlights dangers of waterfall play

Under the Pigeon: Snorkeling workshop gives an up-close look at aquatic diversity

The clear water of the West Fork Pigeon River tumbling from its mountain headwaters takes on a yellowish hue through the plastic of the snorkel mask, revealing a riverbed of rounded rocks that sometimes sit within inches of the surface and sometimes plunge feet below.

Fish swim placidly in the flow, darting only occasionally when the wearer of the snorkel mask draws a bit too close for comfort. Here and there a leaf or a stick streams by like a stowaway for parts unknown.

Western NC struggles with historic drought

Western North Carolina continues to be in a severe drought as wildfires rage through the mountains. The lack of rain has also impacted wildlife, outdoor recreation and agriculture in the region.

• Data-driven analysis drives modern weather forecasting
• Low water levels cut the season short
• Wildlife rides out the drought

Low water levels cut the season short

Fontana Lake looks more like a narrow river running through a canyon right now as drought conditions persist across the region.

Residents near Allens Creek Road seek solutions for failing septic systems

A high water table wreaking havoc with aging septic systems that has left some residents in one Waynesville neighborhood seeking creative answers to nature’s call is finally drawing attention from the town, while at least one homeowner watches his pipe dream go down the drain.

Changing a flat in a rising creek

ellison footbridgeForty years ago this coming July 5, my wife, Elizabeth, and I and our three children moved into a small cove just west of Bryson City. The kids are grown up now and doing their own thing in Sylva, Asheville and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The fly collector: Collection of 9,000 flies holds memories, knowledge for Bryson City angler

out fr“This is the ugliest fly I have,” says Mike Kesselring, pulling a battered-looking brown-bodied, black-feathered fly from a box marked “18. Antiques.”

The box is just one of the many filling the back of Kesselring’s red SUV, the fly just one the roughly 9,000 in his expansive collection. The flies run the gamut from the long, flowing streamers designed to resemble flashy-colored minnows to tiny but intricate creations mimicking the river’s smallest insect nymphs. Nearly all are prettier, more pristine than the 20-year-old thing Kesselring, 64, now holds up to the sunlight.

Cherokees and rivers: Water a centerpiece of Cherokee culture

out frJust like Haywood County’s watershed, fed by springs that all have their start inside county borders, Cherokee mythology surrounding places in Haywood is all about beginnings.

“All of the Cherokee myths and legends here in Haywood County are about origins,” Barbara Duncan, education director of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, told the crowd gathered at Haywood Waterways Association’s end-of-year banquet last week. “This is a fascinating parallel to me with the geography.”

Swain officials want more face time with park superintendent

fr tunnelgraffitiSwain County officials are hoping new leadership in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park means the start of a new relationship — one that will include better communication between the park and the county that is a gateway community. 

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