Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hiking With History and Goober Peas

In the heat and humidity on Saturday, June 5th, Tony Cook did something very unusual. He held 12 hikers spellbound, weaving the story of John and Jim, two homesick boys from North Carolina, caught up in one of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. One Jim, was lovesick. The other, John, got way more adventure than he bargained for. But we learned their experiences at Chickamauga led one to his death and the other back home to find love in an unexpected place. And through it all, as Tony led our group from one lonely spot on the trail to another monument that told a sad tale, our group was enthralled. We would have followed him all afternoon, sweat logged shirts, and all!

We learned about Benjamin Helms, Abe Lincoln's brother-in-law, who was shot and died the next day. This prompted Abe, when he learned, to shed tears for this son of Kentucky who followed Robert E. Lee to serve the South. It also left his widow, Mary Lincoln's sister, behind enemy lines. Events eventually brought her to the White House where Abe housed the widow of a Southern officer! This did not sit well with the North, and before the year was out, she moved back to the South.

Then, there was the unsung hero, General George Thomas, who earned his nickname 'The Rock of Chickamauga' for refusing to completely give up his position as so many others did which saved the Union Army from being completely routed at Chickamauga. He continued a military career after the war and did not try to go into politics, burning his papers before his death so they couldn't be made public. His Virginia family turned his picture to the wall when he 'went with the North' and refused to attend his funeral when he died.
We walked through the park for about six miles, learning all this and much more, waiting for Tony to read excerpts of Thomas Wolfe's story from the short story 'Chickamauga' involving John and Jim. At the end, as he promised, we were treated to Goober Peas! One of our group, Dave, a North Carolina native, was a bit apprehensive- not at all sure what Goober Peas were. But when they were finally brought out, he enjoyed them every bit as much as the rest of the group. We ended our snack time by 'singing' Goober Peas.

Someone wondered where this expression came from so I googled the name and I've pasted the info I gathered. See below:

“The only true friend the South ever had was corn field peas.”  -- Confederate General Robert E. Lee

“Goober Peas” was a popular song sung by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. The phrase “goober peas” is one of many southern expressions for peanuts. The word goober was a derivative of the African Bantu word nguba. Calling peanuts goober peas began with blacks along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts speaking in the Gullah language

A great hiking experience was had by all!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dayhike on Savage Gulf

There were eighteen hikers, plus a guest, that joined us for our 4 miles+ on the plateau at Savage Gulf (which I found out thru research was named after an old settler, Samuel Savage). We left the parking lot and headed toward the Ranger Station where we past butterfly weed with their tops bursting with orange. Bearing right, we entered the wooded trail wet from the nights rain. Spring flowers were mostly spent, only a few rhododendron with their blooms still fresh were spotted for the most part. We crossed a couple of wooden foot bridge's before making it to Boyd's Branch with a suspension bridge where we were warned to only cross two at a time! Soon, we came to an intersection where we found a fellow painting the letters a bright white on a wooden marker sign (several of us had noted the white, white letters on previous letters so this explained why!).
Turning left, we traveled a distance to make it to Rattlesnake Point Overlook, a spectacular overlook where we found a dedication plaque to former owners by the name of Samuel H. Werner, Jr. ad his wife, Ellen Young Werner. They purchased 3,800 acres in Savage Gulf in 1924–26 and protected and preserved the gulf forest, which became part of the state natural area in 1973
Continuing on, we came to the a spot where we could spot Savage Falls Overlook through the foliage on the ridge.

Then we began a gradual decline, and it wasn't long before we were somewhat parallel to Savage Creek.

 At one piont, there is a sign beside the water indicating it was the home of a long ago moonshine still. A little further, we came to the top of wooden stairs. At the bottom, there were huge rock boulders and we found ourselves at the bottom of the falls with a gorgeous inviting pool. A few continued on out onto some large boulders that were out into the stream.

Approximately 500 acres in Savage Gulf along Savage Creek below Savage Falls were never logged, so today the stand of hemlock, yellow poplar, oak, ash, basswood, beech, maple, and hickory is one of the largest old-growth remnants of the mixed mesophytic region of the Eastern deciduous forest. The importance of the forest is recognized in its designation as a National Natural Landmark. «

The italicized portion above is copied from the Savage Gulf State Park website, but I thought it was worth noting as there aren't many area's to be found in southeastern Appalachia that hasn't been logged!

The group loafed about bit here for a while, and I got a pic of Bob with his sweet daughter, Laura (I think!).

On our way out, a few took the spur that led past the campsite area (why do I wonder if Bob was in that group?) The rest continued on, retracing our steps back to the Ranger Station. However, I spotted these neat mushrooms which I couldn't not take a picture of and also the end of this tree that seems to tell a story all its own! We only had a snack on the trail so we all loaded up, headed back down off the mountain and 'somehow' ended up at The Cookie Jar. This restaurant should be outlawed for its fat calories, but hey...if it's there, we must go and so we did. It was some good eatin'! I also took home a piece of coconut cream pie that was to die for! Happy Trails and can't wait for the next hike with this great Wednesday group.