Our weather is in for a change. We have been having the most glorious blue sky warm day chilly night sunny still wind conditions ever recollected. By me. Enough of this sitting in the lazyboy blogging away, we need to go to the mountains before the leaf extravaganza is over and the stark stems of winter replace the riot of color. Grab the camera and your boots, and the cell phone, and a jacket and let’s hop into the gas hog and go to Tellico Plains. The drive is less than thirty minutes from my house to the base of the Cherohala Skyway. As we climb the steep incline there are signs showing an image of a camera indicating a place to pull over and take a photo, how thoughtful of them! The first photo op we opt to stop at shows this signage explaining how the Civilian Conservation Corps worked and lived in these mountains to repair and reforest the land during the Great Depression after extensive logging had been done. The view over the top of the sign shows we are just in time to catch some color before the leaves release themselves and float down to the forest floor.
The Cherohala Skyway was completed in the fall of 1996 after being under construction for some thirty-four years. It is North Carolina’s most expensive highway carrying a pricetag of $100,000,000. Winding up and over 5,400 foot mountains for 15 miles in North Carolina and descending another 21 miles into the deeply forested backcountry of Tennessee. The road crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests thus the name “Chero…hala”.
For complete information about this scenic byway including maps click here. The hand drawn circle is my car. Click on all photos to enlarge, then scroll around to see the details of each shot. You can read the text on the sign above by clicking and scrolling to read.There is plant life galore. Growing right along the pavement is this native heuchera. But what’s that in the lower left corner in this picture?Attention: Public service announcement!!! If you ever see something that looks like this on a tree, rocks or the ground, DO NOT TOUCH IT! Do not try and pet it or pry it loose. This is the leafless vine of poison ivy and it packs a wallop just as bad as the leaf if not worse.Here is some with the leaves still attached and covered in innocent looking lichen. Don’t be fooled by the pretty color. Leave this one alone!This road is not only scenic but is a great place for fly fishing. There are no fishermen here today, but the Financier and I have fished here on occasion and the Gardoctor has as well. They sell fishing licenses in town for a day, week, or the whole season and all the gear. Some new condos and cabins have been built at the entrance to the skyway along with a visitor center and museum. All the architecture is attractive and suitably rustic. There were already some eateries and small shops built long ago so the new structures are not a blot on the landscape. I rather like them in fact. There are no buildings once we start the ascent.This is what we came to see.This is a zoom in of the top of the falls. There is a bridge for people to stand on to take photos and just drink in the beauty with a small parking area just on the other side of the bridge. There is room for about four or five cars, today there were three including mine.The falls from the left.And from the right.
We used to take lots of pleasure drives around these parts but since the price of fuel starting rising those have been few. But today we feel we can afford this little jaunt part ways up the mountain to the North Carolina border which even crosses the Appalachian Trail. Thanks once again for coming along with me. I really do get flashes of apprehension when I am alone and climbing around on steep slippery rocks in isolated areas, even with boots and a jacket this time. Key word being alone. My balance is not as good as it once was, and it was never very good at that. Thank goodness you were with me to keep a look out and just settle my nerves a little. Until next time.