The Rosebay rhododendron bushes were blooming this past Tuesday when I drove down into the Cataloochee Valley.
The news of the week is that we now have 12 calves and Elk #22 was put down. Elk #22 was bullied as a boy and caused a lot of trouble. It went where elk did not belong, ate non-elk food and generally became a juvenile delinquent. Do people still use that word?
Supposedly, it was all because of a warped childhood. (Yes, I’m still talking about elk #22.) Bigger bull elk bullied it. Someone even wrote a children’s book about it. Bully for you No. 22. Bull #22 has caused extensive damage throughout the community including broken fences,
crop damage, several near-miss vehicle encounters and chasing visitors. The final straw was when #22 went into the Cherokee tribal gardens and messed up the crop. That was the end of that elk.
I walked to the horse campsite to check out who was there and found the adelgid crew getting ready to pack out. They were going up Pretty Hollow Trail to inject and treat some hemlock and hopefully knock out some of the adelgid.
This past Tuesday, almost everyone I talked to saw elk but me. Even though it was a bright sunny day, there were several elk on the trail to the Woody House. I was prepared to look for them and walked most of the way with my head pointing to the right, where the elk was supposed to be. but somehow I missed them.
Most of my visitor contact were on the trail to the Woody House. It was heart warming to meet a large family with a grandfather, several children and their spouses and a crop of grandchildren.
I also met the Bennet family – Donny Bennet and two of his children from North Georgia. The Bennets were one of the first families in Cataloochee. The next generation went into Little Cataloochee and multiplied from there. Donny had gotten wrong information on getting to Little Cataloochee and I encouraged him to walk there with his boys and see the Chapel.
Next Tuesday, I’ll be signing books at Oconaluftee Visitor Center from 10 A.M. to 1 P.M. Come by and say hello.