It was 22 degrees yesterday in Asheville when I went out to scrape my car. Anna Lee of Friends of the Smokies and I were going to scout a hike on our Classic Hikes of the Smokies series in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
We had made a bad decision by cancelling on a beautiful day, but now we needed to check out this hike, even though we’re not leading it until May.
Anna Lee leads hikes as part of her job as Development and Outreach Associate and I treat my volunteer work as a job so we were going. But Alana, who was visiting Anna Lee on her vacation, didn’t have to come but she did. I was so excited to show Anna Lee another side of the Smokies and even more thrilled to find out I was on Alana’s first trip to America’s most visited national park. The Lake Shore Trail is such a minor, intriguing entrance to the park but what a introduction.
By the time we reached the trailhead outside Bryson City, the temperature had gone up to a whopping 26 degrees. We almost ran through the tunnel, which turned out to be the coldest part of the hike. Many people may know about the Tunnel to Nowhere but what’s beyond that?
I had never seen the water level so high in Forney Creek. See the second picture above.
But there’s always something new, this time at the Woody Cemetery, just off the trail.
The North Shore Cemetery Association, descendants of people who lived in the area before 1943 continues to erect gravestones, where before there was just a rock.
Last time I was there, there was a jumble of gravestones, waiting to be put in place. Now that they’re up, I could see eight (8) Infant Freeman graves. No other information.
Imagine losing eight pregnancies. The most likely cause was Rh incompatibility, a condition that develops when a pregnant woman has Rh-negative blood and the baby in her womb has Rh-positive blood. But of course, I have no idea what the real cause. I googled a few words but nothing came up.
When I got home, I looked up the North Shore Road Association to see if it could shed some light on the eight “infant Freeman”, but nothing. But the website had a listing of all the cemeteries. Here’s what it said about the Woody Cemetery.
Woody Cemetery: On Forney Creek approximately one mile up on Gray Wolf Branch from Fontana Lake high water mark. 200 yards northwest from branch on crest of third ridge left of branch. 63 graves. Last burial in 1913. Accessible only by boat.
It’s very accessible by walking. And I don’t even have to invoke my motto
No place is too far to walk if you have the time.
This hike is offered in May by Friends of the Smokies. Sign up now because it will be popular.