Little Cataloochee with Friends of the Smokies

What a great day!

After all the bad weather we’ve had in Western North Carolina Carolina, we had a beautiful, sunny day for our first Friends of the Smokies hike of the year.

I was not the only one who thought so, since over 30 hikers showed up to hike Little Cataloochee Trail. We stopped at every artifact, starting with the Hannah cemetery. See picture above where I managed to take a photo of some of the participants. The others were investigating graves, inscriptions or just catching up with each other after the winter.

We continued on Little Cataloochee Trail, which was the main road when people settled here. Up to the Hannah cabin, a tiny place that may have housed who knows how many family members.

The highlight is always the Little Cataloochee Baptist Church with another large cemetery right in front and its rows of Decoration Day tables in back. Holly Demuth, Director of the NC office of Friends of the Smokies, talked about the work of Friends.

“Every good program deserves a commercial”, I told the group.

Over 20 new people showed up for this hike. Many had probably “meant to come”, but the good weather and maybe a new year’s resolution brought them out to actually put their boots on the ground. Our lunch stop and turn-around point was the Cook Cabin.

These monthly hikes are more than just a few hours in the woods for me. It means showing people new areas of the Smokies. Most had been to the Cataloochee Valley, or “big Cataloochee”, but had never driven on NC 284 to the entrance to Little Cataloochee. That even included folks that grew up here.

It also means introducing new topics like exotic species, hemlock wooly adelgids, the challenge of keeping the cabins and churches in good conditions and a host of issues that most people think “they” take care of. Who is this “they”, if not us the people who own the national parks?

Somehow talking about these challenges in the sunshine makes it more real and enjoyable. Register for the next hike, Tuesday April 8 by contacting Brent via email or 828-452-0720..

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