Lost Cove

Lost Cove – not easy to find

Mike K. at Lost Cove
Mike K. at Lost Cove

From an urban walk through Asheville on Thursday, I went on a Carolina Mountain Club hike to Lost Cove, one of the most desolate and remote place in Western North Carolina – or is it in Tennessee?

Lost Cove, located along the Nolichucky River in Western North Carolina, took its name from the location near the Tennessee and North Carolina border when surveyors were not sure to which state the community belonged. That’s the quick definition.

It’s not easy to get to Lost Cove; that’s part of the problem. The easiest is probably from Erwin, TN, the big town here.

But we took several unmarked, unofficial trails from a parking area on NC 197. Up and down, up and down, we went. The land is in the Appalachian District of Pisgah National Forest. Some of the land is also owned by the Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy.

Lost Cove
Lost Cove

We passed remains of chimneys and home sites. Here’s one of our hikers next to the smokehouse. A couple of houses are still standing, but just barely. See the photo above. The cemetery seems well maintained.

When the settlers moved here to get away from the troubles of the Civil War, they were self-sufficient. But by the end of the 19th century, the railroad came in along with logging.

The residents became used to modern conveniences – aren’t we all? They were able to go into town, Poplar, NC for supplies and medical care.

When everything was logged out, it became more and more difficult to live there. Then the railroad stopped running. Residents hoped that the state would build them a road but it was not to be. So people started leaving.

One and only vehicle
One and only vehicle

Some young men left for the Korean War. Isn’t that always the way? Men have a way of getting out of a restricted way of life.  But that immediately brings up a question.

Why couldn’t I find any WW II veterans in the cemetery? Were they so isolated that the Selective Service System never sent them a draft notice? I wondered about this same situation at the Hensley Settlement in Cumberland Gap National Historical Site. And just like the Hensley Settlement, moonshine was a large part of their income.

For more of an indepth look at Lost Cove, you might want to read Christy A. Smith’s MA dissertation entitled Lost Cove, North Carolina: the Life and Death of a Thriving Community (1864-1957). I’d have a hard time accepting the community as thriving but the dissertation does a great job of explaining every day life.

Crossing the French Broad

Walking an Asheville Camino

If you’re a Southern Appalachian hiker, you know what it means to hike six, eight, even twelve miles with its ups and down, switchbacks, roots and rocks. But if you’re contemplating going on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, you know that you’ll be walking much more per day but it will be easier. What does that mean?

Grey Eagle on AVL Camino
Grey Eagle on the AVL Camino

Two thoughtful Asheville pilgrims laid out an Asheville Camino. They walked about 18 miles, recording their route. Mark Cobb, one of the leaders in the WNC chapter of the Americans Pilgrims on the Camino, led eight pilgrims through Asheville. We generally followed the route on the web.

The Asheville Visitor Center was our trailhead – nice place to park, if you park at the bottom of the lot, leaving the upper level for visitors. We then walked past The Grey Eagle and headed toward the River Arts District.

Edna's by the River
Edna’s by the River

But then we followed a future Greenway and found ourselves at Edna’s at the  River, just in time for morning coffee. Our barista was glad for the business, but he couldn’t believe that we had walked from downtown – and not in a direct route either.

We found several small streets and now were in West Asheville. On Haywood Rd., we admired the store windows. Several walkers had never taken the time to see all the action in West Asheville.

In West Asheville
In West Asheville

But it didn’t take long to get back to the River Arts District and find White Duck Taco. Are you still with me?

At this point, some hikers left to head directly back to the Visitor Center. A new person showed up.

Where was the promised 1,300 feet of elevation gain?

Sure, we had a little climb here and there. But in ten miles (yes, ten miles before lunch), we didn’t have much ascent. We went through Roberts St. and onto Depot Street. With the magic of connecting streets, we were heading toward Mission Hospital on Biltmore Ave.

By one o’clock, the sun was beating down on the pavement. Since this is urban walking, we didn’t have the protection of two rows of trees.

20161020avlcamino-021aWe weaved through the hospital parking lot and started climbing Granby St. This was our first real ascent. Between the heat, the steep street and too much, way too much lunch, I wasn’t feeling too good. I sat down on the sidewalk and told the rest that I was on my own. By then, I must have walked probably 14 miles.

I went back to Biltmore Ave. and headed toward downtown. On the way to the Visitor Center, I stopped in at the Basilica of St. Lawrence. It seemed like the right way to finish this pilgrimage.

So what did I learn about urban walking? You can’t eat as much as on a trail. And it’s a lot hotter.


Keep our National Parks open after Dec 9

In the Smokies
In the Smokies

We’ve been so inundated by presidential politics that most voters haven’t noticed that our government isn’t funded after December 9. And right now, if our Congress doesn’t pass a budget, all nonessential services will be cut by then.

On Saturday December 10, you’ll find Great Smoky Mountains National Park closed. Same with every other national park unit from Yosemite to Guilford Courthouse National Military Park.

We can write or call our senators and representatives and tell them to get back to work and fund our government.

If you have trouble remembering who your two senators are, try this link.

For your Congressional representative, here’s the link.

Frozen Niagara
Frozen Niagara at Mammoth Cave

Here’s the letter I sent. Please contact the people who work for you in Washington and let them know that you’re paying attention.

Dear Congressman XX:

Congress has only authorized a budget until December 9. If you and your colleagues can’t agree about how to govern, you will cause another government shutdown. With all the media attention focused on the presidential election, you might think that voters aren’t paying attention, but we are.

The first agency that is considered nonessential and has to shut down is the National Park Service. Imagine families going to the Smokies, the Everglades or Carl Sandburg and finding the parks and visitor centers shuttered. Imagine hard-working families finally planning a trip of a lifetime to Hawaii during the Christmas holidays and finding Volcanoes National Park closed! We’re celebrating the National Park Service Centennial this year – not the time to close our parks.

Families take the time to enjoy our national parks during the holiday season. In North Carolina, we have eight national park units and they all protect, preserve, and interpret an important part of our American culture.

Are you really prepared for another shutdown because Congress isn’t doing its job?
Please tell me that the budget problem will be solved, hopefully once and for all.