Arts + Entertainment

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.

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.

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.

While a draft forest management plan is still nearly a year away, a group of recently released documents gives a glimpse into how the U.S. Forest Service might ultimately manage the 1.2 million acres in the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest over the next 20 years.

How many naturalized plants do you recognize from your vehicle this time of year as you drive around taking care of business? My guess is that it’s more than you might anticipate. By “naturalized,” I mean those that were deliberately introduced as medicinals, edibles, ornamentals, etc., but have “escaped” from cultivated situations and become part of our regional or national flora. Some of these — like kudzu, privet, multiflora rose, etc. — are so invasive we’d just as soon they went on back to where they came from.

Ching Fu and Jerud Crandall had professional careers and a comfortable home when they left it all behind in 2015, trading their stable lives in Asheville to roam the continent in an RV. Now they’ve been on the road for more than two years, adventuring through Canada, Oregon, Utah and everywhere in between. 

“Our priorities were being outdoors and doing the outdoor activities we wanted to do and exploring outdoors, and it was a much lower priority for us to have a nice house and a nice car and eat at fancy restaurants and be physically luxurious/comfortable,” Crandall explained. “But the way we were living (in Asheville) we were physically very comfortable, and we carved out time to do the outdoor activities.”

With Memorial Day right around the corner, the fun in the sun of summer in the mountains is here, ready to surprise and delight any and all.

My pack was plenty heavy as I set out north on the Appalachian Trial from Carvers Gap, but with my phone on airplane mode and three days in the woods ahead of me, my steps felt light. The sun was warm and bright as a friend and I climbed those initial balds, my dog running joyful circles through the grass. The trail soon gave way to still-bare forests whose floors were alive with wildflowers, the sinking sun casting an enchanting glow over the whole scene.

In the natural world here in the Blue Ridge, there are certain visual images that rivet the attention of human beholders. One such is a timber rattlesnake suddenly encountered in the wild. That sight literally galvanizes the senses. The vibrating rattle-tipped tail sounds its uncanny almost-musical warning … you freeze in mid-step, holding your breath but unaware that you are doing so … the hair on the back of your neck stands on end … the event remains imprinted in your memory bank.

Construction on an outdoor adventure park offering everything from rafting to ropes courses could begin in Dillsboro as early as April if the Jackson County Commissioners give final approval to the project following a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 20, at the Jackson County Justice and Administration Building.

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This Must Be the Place

Reading Room

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