ASHEVILLE – The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area announced 19 grants totaling more than $250,000 in funding designed to preserve and promote Western North Carolina’s heritage.
Funded by the federal dollars the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area receives, the grant awards will help support diverse initiatives across the North Carolina mountains and foothills, focusing on craft, music, natural heritage, Cherokee traditions, and the region’s legacy in agriculture.
Grandfather Mountain moved one step closer to becoming a state park when the Council of State on Tuesday approved North Carolina’s purchase of a large chunk of the property. That’s a win for the state and the Morton family, which will continue to operate its popular tourist attraction on the mountain through a private, nonprofit organization.
In Surry County, the Piedmont Land Conservancy announced last week that it has bought a second tract on Fisher’s Peak. Stunning views have been preserved, as well as flora and fauna. The peak is home to bears, as well as mountain laurel, rare grasses and chestnut trees.
Greensboro, Ga.-based Reynolds Signature Communities, a subsidiary of Linger Longer Communities LLC, said in a news release late Tuesday it has acquired Laurelmor, a 6,200-acre master-planned golf and equestrian community west of Blowing Rock, N.C. A purchase price was not released.
According to published reports, Ginn Development Co., the former owners of Laurelmor, nearly lost the community to foreclosure earlier this year when it failed to make principal and interest payments on a $675 million credit facility on the development and other properties.
The sale is part of an agreement with Ginn Development’s lenders, including Credit Suisse, according to a report in the Winston Salem Journal.
Last month at an event commemorating the Blue Ridge Parkway a Depression-era federal project, Virginia’s Governor Tim Kaine said, “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.” It’s a message embraced by conservationists across the Southeast. This time of economic difficulty is also one of opportunity for land trusts.
Located near the North Carolina and Tennessee border in the Newfound Mountains northwest of Asheville, a short drive south of Hot Springs, Max Patch is the southern most bald on the Appalachian Trail. The summit tops out at 4,629 feet.
The trail from the parking lot to the summit of Max Patch is said to be a gentle climb, surrounded by wildflowers in season.
Max Patch was privately owned until 1982 when it was aquired by the Forest Service for the AT.
Hike a section of the famous Appalachian National Scenic Trail (or A.T.) on top of Max Patch Mountain near Hot Springs. This 4,600-foot mountain was cleared and used as pasture in the 1800s. Today, it’s a 350-acre tract of open land on a high knob with 360-degree views. On a clear day, you can see from Mt. Mitchell on the east to the Great Smoky Mountains on the south. What a picnic spot! And great for star gazing and enjoying wildflowers. The summit is a short walk from the parking lot. Max Patch is part of the Pisgah National Forest.
Two easy loop trails lead you to, and around, the summit. The 1.4-mile short loop crosses the summit. The 2.4 mile loop circles the mountain for outstanding views from all the sides. From the parking lot, follow the marked trail to the left. You will ascend through a forest and then reach the top for amazing views. The rest of the hike is on the grassy bald. You can also hike north or south on the Appalachian Trail for as far as you want.
The Great Smoky Mountains, only 20 miles away, dominate the southwest horizon. To the west the terrain drops over 3600 feet into the flatlands of eastern Tennessee. To the west, 50 miles distant, rises the dark ridgeline of the Black Mountains. Endless ridges and peaks fill in the panorama everywhere else.
Max Patch Bald is the kind of place that becomes a part of you after just one trip. The route up to the summit passes through picturesque mountain communities that have largely escaped the mass tourism radar. Passing by old red tobacco barns, little white churches, pumpkin patches, Christmas tree farms, and even the occasional country store, the route eventually starts a long gradual climb through the deep forest. Then out of nowhere it appears, an enormous grassy bald, and what may be the single most stunning view in the entire region.
Though many mountains are higher, none seem so when you are on the summit of Max Patch Bald. On a clear day you will see completely across most of eastern Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains, the Black Mountains, Craggy Mountains, Pisgah Ledge, the Newfound Mountains of Haywood County, and Walnut Mountains of Madison County. Pictures cannot do justice to the summit, a la Sound of Music. This exceptionally beautiful grassy peak is often covered in wildflowers and affords a spectacular 360-degree view. At near the 5,000-foot level, this is one of the first places to see brilliant fall color and substantial snowfall. The one-mile loop trail to the summit is easy to moderate. Take the trail to the left. It is best done in the clockwise direction, saving the steepest sections for the downhill return. You don’t have to be a serious hiker to enjoy what has been called The Crown Jewel of the Appalachian Trail.
Max Patch Mountain is a mountain summit in Madison County in the state of North Carolina (NC). Max Patch Mountain climbs to 4,616 feet (1,406.96 meters) above sea level. Max Patch Mountain is located at latitude – longitude coordinates (also called lat – long coordinates or GPS coordinates) of N 35.797045 and W -82.956811.
Anyone attempting to climb Max Patch Mountain and reach the summit should look for detailed information on the Max Patch Mountain area in the topographic map (topo map) and the Lemon Gap USGS quad. To hike and explore the North Carolina outdoors near Max Patch Mountain, check the list of nearby trails.
The new year is always a kind of chronological trope, an imaginary point of debarkation. We are so deeply knotted to time past and time future that come Jan. 1, we are hardly shoving off for parts unknown. Still, the change implicit in the new year can be a mental leap forward, a recasting of the imagination. Entering the new year also can be an act of conscience, and more so this year than in many years past.
Somehow it’s fitting to come into the new year on bare ground, even as the snow is gathering again. It makes it so much easier to take account of the work to be done, the decisions to be made and, for that matter, unmade. Some years it is just a gray transition from one calendar to the next, the resumption of a postponed meeting and an old agenda. But that is not how this new year feels. Time for the rotting fence posts to be replaced, the sagging gates to be rehung.
The image conjured up by the above comes easier to me this year than it ever has in the past. I am starting 2009 with my life barer than it has been in many years. A prime place to begin rebuilding who and what I want my life to be. The old year brought an end to the life that was. The safe, the familiar, the known…What comes next, both for me and the country is not known with any degree of certainty. But life will continue, the family will endure, as will the country. New directions, new paths, new objectives…New life.
The move to the mountains becomes more pressing as the world changes in all of the wrong ways. The climate, the economy, the world political stage…All are looking pretty grim. A place less crowded, not so close to a major metropolitan area, is becoming a real draw.
Personally, the mountains call me…Especially as I sit here on the third day of the new year, in what feels like summer weather in the North Carolina and Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains. Of course, there are trade offs…Winters in the mountains are a bit cooler to say the least. But, to be able to enjoy spring…and summer…and fall, not just a few days each winter…It is a dream, a plan, a goal…
If you are a lover of straight lines and tidy endings, be forewarned. This is not a straightforward drive from point A to point B. It will meander and ramble in an untidy way.
I flew the terrain in my mind’s eye as a hawk might, swooping in to assuage my sharp hunger with live and tender bits, soaring from the flatland piney woods of northwest Florida to the dusky mountain peaks of Western North Carolina. But in the end, the crude map I drew with the pen moving and my eyes closed, was of my own heart. It is bisected with a fault line down the middle: one chamber is Rice Cove, near Canton, North Carolina; the other is Cantonment, near Pensacola, Florida.
I missed the blue ridges fading into the dusk and I missed them when they faded back to blue again the next morning.
As I stare off into the distance here at home, my mind tries to make the tree line across the pasture become the ridges of the mountains from my memory…The layers of branches take on the look of the layers of ridges when my eyes let my memory take over…
In the years that I miss making the trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains, I feel the call stronger with each passing month…Next year…
Next year I’ll get there…Next year we’ll make the move…Next year we’ll make it permanent…Next year…
It’s not easy to find silence in the modern world. If a quiet place is one where you can listen for fifteen minutes in daylight hours without hearing a human-created sound, there are no quiet places left in Europe. There are none east of the Mississippi River. And in the American West? Maybe twelve. One of these is in the temperate rainforest along the Hoh River in Olympic National Park.
In a forest like this a drop of rain may hit twenty times before it reaches the ground, and each impact—against a cedar bough, a vine-maple leaf, a snag—makes its own sound.
You can change the pitch of a stream by removing a stone. A stream tunes itself over time, tumbling the rocks into place.
One of the things that keeps calling me back to the Blue Ridge Mountains is the sounds of silence like those mentioned in the Orion article above. I recall the first time we stayed up on Nettles Knob out of Valle Crucis. Standing at the upper reaches of a cove in on the north side of the knob in a gentle summer rain listening to the water trickling down under the rocks at my feet. Ferns and moss covering everything. More species of vegetation within sight than I had ever before seen…I was in awe.