Saturday, January 30, 2010

WNC Snowstorm Update

A little update on the snowstorm that has slammed the WNC area. We ended up with close to 8 inches of snow here in Graham County. Luckily, the power stayed on through the night and all day here. Other areas north and east of here saw up to a foot of snow and roads were closed pretty much across the whole area. If you want to check on power outages around WNC, check out Duke Energy's outage information on their website here.

I know that at least two counties (Graham and Jackson) enacted curfews to keep people off the roads after about 9:00 pm. Roads are still an issue as temperatures are heading toward the low 20s.

However, it wasn't all doom and gloom and being stuck inside. We got in touch with our inner children and went sledding and built a snowman (and snow dog)! Pictures are below. Everyone stay warm and have fun with the few remaining snow days!

Beautiful snow on every branch.

Abby actually stayed on the sled for one ride down the hill!

Great view of the neighbors horses and barn.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Well, Am and I were in sunny Florida for the pre-Christmas "Storm of the Decade." However, we're definitely present and accounted for today. Currently, it has been snowing for about four hours and we have over 5 inches of snow! Unfortunately it's the wet, heavy snow that sticks to everything (like power lines!).

Luckily the power is still holding strong, but not sure for how long. All the news organizations are calling for up to a foot of the white stuff over the next two days. I'll update later on with pictures and final measurements.

Swan Cabin

While on a day hike with my brother over the Thanksgiving holiday, we stopped by the Swan Cabin in Graham County, NC, pictured below.


Swan Cabin is a historic cabin built in 1931 as a family home deep in the Santeetlah area of Graham county. It is now owned by the US Government and can be rented for $25/night. It is in a very remote area and with the only access coming from a dirt road about 15 miles from the nearest town of Robbinsville. There is no electricity or running water, but there is a very effective wood stove and a stream nearby.

For more information on the history of the cabin visit its website here.

If you would like to reserve the cabin, book early as it is very popular with locals and visitors alike. Visit the site for Swan Cabin here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Joanna Bald Fire Tower Hike

After reading some excerpts from Hiking North Carolina's Lookout Towers, Am and I decided to take the dogs for a walk up to Joanna Bald fire tower here in Graham County. It is on one of the highest peaks, surrounded by communications towers visible from many areas around Robbinsville.

To reach Joanna Bald, you follow Snowbird Road towards Junaluska's Grave out of Robbinsville. Take this road past the Stanley Furniture plant and turn left onto Long Creek road. Stay on this road until it turns to gravel and you reach Tatham Gap. This gap is marked with a sign noting that it was a part of the original Trail of Tears that moved the Cherokee from their homes in the Smokies to Oklahoma. Turn left at Tatham Gap and follow the road to the dead end at a gate.

It's an easy half-mile walk to the fire tower and all the other communications towers. The fire tower is locked to the public for most of the year and our trip was no exception. However, my dog and I braved the almost vertical steps to get a great view of Cheoah Bald and many of the other beautiful peaks in the area.

Carolina Mountain Club highlights many of the other fire towers in the area here. There is also a blog dedicated specifically to NC Lookout towers. They are the sponsors of a just-for-fun contest to see who can climb all of the lookout towers listed in the NC Lookout Tower book. We met a couple from Moresville, NC who were about halfway through the list. Any reason to get people out in WNC is alright with me!

View towards the North with the approach road in the foreground and the Slickrock Creek wilderness area in the background.

Abby braved the steps too! She's not as brave going down them though...

Posing with a great little waterfall on the side of the road on the way up.

Speckled Trout in November

I know it's been a while since I posted anything, I guess I've been too busy getting out and enjoying the outdoors.

Anyway, back on a beautiful unseasonably warm Saturday in November my friend Billy and I decided to fish a new creek. He owns a copy of the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Guide and we just picked a close stream. That stream was the Middle Prong of the Western Fork of the Pigeon River.

To reach the stream, take Highway 276 south out of Waynesville, NC until it intersects NC 215 S/Lake Logan Road. You will cross a bridge at Lake Logan and soon come on Forest Service Road 97 to the right. There is a parking lot here, but during hunting season the gate is open for backcountry access for 4-wheel drive trucks.

If you are lucky enough to be there when the gate is open, you can drive about 3 miles to the third switch-back in the road. Park here and walk about a mile on an old logging road down to the river. If you can't drive, hike the graveled road to this point.

This river is designated native trout waters, meaning only artificial lures with a single hook. We were fly-fishing using a dry fly floater (usually a Royal Wulff) and a nymph dropper (Hare's Ear or Prince Nymph). Once I got my flies sorted out, I caught 9 fish for the day while Billy ended with somewhere near 20. That's a lot of trout for November!

Specks and other trout species do not hibernate, so they need to feed year round. Nymph patterns can be very effective as the weather cools. However, in the cold winter months, the fish do slow down a lot so expect to have to cast over and over to get the presentation just right.

Some more info on the Middle Prong can be found here, from the folks at Fly Fishing Community or here, with a little more emphasis on hiking from HikeWNC.

A few pictures are below:

Nice deep pools and clear water.

Fishing the falls where the creek and trail meet.