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read us online at Winter Wonders . . . . . . a wonderful read for 25 years! ABSOLUTELY PRICELESS! WINTER 2022/23 Carolina Mountain Life TM
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Winter is Better Here Skiing ● Snowboarding ● Ice Skating ● Snowtubing ● Grandfather Mountain Casual & Fine Dining ● Cozy Lodging ● Wineries & Breweries
Go to to plan your visit! EAT Luna Thai • Mountain Grounds Coffee & Tea • Reid’s Café • Bella’s Italian Fred and Larry’s Coffee • China House • Subway • McDonald’s STAY Resort Real Estate & Rentals • Vacasa Rentals • Sugar Mountain Lodging Highlands at Sugar • Sugar Ski & Country Club PLAY Attractions: Sugar Creek Gem Mine • Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster Sugar Mountain Resort (Skiing, Snowboarding, Tubing, Ice Skating) Shopping: Provisions on Sugar • Abode Home • Erick’s Cheese & Wine Headquarters Bike + Outdoor • Ski Country Sports • Sugar Mtn Sports Shop Alpine Ski Center • Xtreme Snowboard & Ski • Highland House Ski Shop Those Were the Days Antiques • ABC Store • Food Lion • Lowe’s Foods
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8 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Engel & Völkers Banner Elk 610 Banner Elk Highway Banner Elk NC 28604 +1 828-898-3808 Lear n more at ©2022 Engel & Völkers. All rights reserved. Each brokerage independently owned and operated. Engel & Völkers and its independent License Partners are Equal Opportunity Employers and fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act. HIGH COUN T R Y LIV I N G

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis): Cardinals are found year-round in the eastern United States. Male Cardinals are the familiar bright red color that we have come to associate with the bird, while females are brown with red accents in their feathers. They are often found in dense shrubby habitats and enjoy eating seeds and fruit. A perennial favorite for many bird lovers, the Northern Cardinal is the state bird of seven states,including North Carolina. Northern_Cardinal/overview

By Tom McAuliffe

By Karen Rieley and CML Staff

By Mark Freed

By Susan Wienke

By Jim Hamilton

By Elizabeth Baird Hardy

By Nan Chase

By Trimella Chaney

By Kim S. Davis

By CML Staff

By Kim S. Davis

Common Ground By Steve York

By Steve York

By Gail Greco

Cultural Calendar with Keith Martin...38 Book Nook with Edwin Ansel...51

Notes from Grandfather Mountain...54 Blue Ridge Explorers with Tamara S. Randolph 56 Blue Ridge Parkway Update with Rita Larkin...63 Fishing with Andrew Corpening...64 Trail Reports by CML Staff 65

Wisdom and Ways with Jim Casada...71 History on a Stick with Michael C. Hardy 73

Local Tidbits...80

Community and Local Business News...91

An Ounce of Prevention with Mike Teague 94 Recipes from the CML Kitchen with Meagan Goheen...104

19 ......
What’s Inside:
Skiing’s Perfect World
29 ......
Seize the Winter
44 ......
Conversations with Wood
47 ......
Boone Artist—Off the Grid and Around the World
58 ......
Christmas Tree Season—An End, A Beginning
61 ......
Winter Staycation
69 ......
Women Score a Bullseye
75 ......
Where Are They Now? Myke Holmes
76 ......
Local Brothers Reach Regional & National Acclaim
78 ......
Charitable Grants
82 ......
Enduring Gratitude
95 ......
Hopelessness to Hope
Fit to a Tea

Embrace all seasons.


Let’s find home.

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Ongoing supervision and support is provided a er placement.

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b s e r v a t o r y

S i t t i n g a t a n e l e v a t i o n o f 2 , 7 3 6 f e e t , t h e B a r e D a r k S k y O b s e r v a t o r y p r o v i d e s a n o p p o r t u n i t y t o e x p e r i e n c e t h e w o n d e r s o f t h e u n i v e r s e . V i e w t h e m o o n , p l a n e t s , a n d s t a r s t h r o u g h t h e l a r g e s t p u b l i c t e l e s c o p e i n N C o r s i m p l y s t a r g a z e u n d e r t r u l y d a r k s k i e s a t a n i n t e r n a t i o n a l d a r k s k y c e r t i f i e d p a r k .

P l a n e t a r i u m

V i s i t o r s c a n e x p e r i e n c e t h e w o n d e r s o f t h e n i g h t s k y d u r i n g d a y l i g h t h o u r s . T r a v e l t h r o u g h t h e s o l a r s y s t e m o r l e a r n a b o u t t h e e c o s y s t e m s o f E a r t h i n t h e c o m f o r t o f a z e r o g r a v i t y c h a i r . L a s e r L i g h t s h o w s a r e a l s o a v a i l a b l e o n t h e w e e k e n d s s o b e p r e p a r e d t o g r o o v e t o y o u r f a v o r i t e t u n e s .

T h e B l u e R i d g e B o u t i q u e H o t e l i s a f i f t e e n m i n u t e d r i v e f r o m t h e M a y l a n d E a r t h t o S k y P a r k a n d i s c e n t r a l l y l o c a t e d t o C h r i s t m a s t r e e f a r m s , s h o p p i n g , s k i s l o p e s , a n d a r e a r e s t a u r a n t s T h e t h i r d f l o o r i s n o w o p e n , m a k i n g a t o t a l o f 3 2 a v a i l a b l e r o o m s t h a t a r e e a c h n a m e d f o r a n a r e a d e s t i n a t i o n .

B u i l t i n 1 9 2 1 , t h e h o t e l i s h o u s e d i n a f o r m e r e l e m e n t a r y s c h o o l b u i l d i n g S i t t i n g a b o v e t h e T o e R i v e r , a f o o t b r i d g e c o n n e c t s t h e b u i l d i n g t o d o w n t o w n S p r u c e P i n e E n j o y a l l t h e m o d e r n a m e n i t i e s i n t h i s h i s t o r i c b u i l d i n g

6 6 E n e r g y E x c h a n g
, N C
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B L U E R I D G E B O U T I Q U E H O T E L A c c o m m o d a t i o n s B e s u r e t o c h e c k o u t T h e G o o d o f t h e H i v e m u r a l o n t h e e x t e r i o r o f t h e p l a n e t a r i u m ! 6 6 E n e r g y E x c h a n g e D r B u r n s v i l l e , N C 2 8 7 1 4 8 2 8 . 4 7 0 . 7 5 8 4 w w w m a y l a n d e d u / e s p 2 0 3 P i n e b r i d g e A v e S p r u c e P i n e , N C 2 8 7 7 7 8 2 8 7 6 5 0 3 9 1 w w w b l u e r i d g e b o u t i q u e h o t e l c o m

A publication of Carolina Mountain Life, Inc. ©2022-2023 by Carolina Mountain Life Magazine, Inc.

All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the Publisher.

Babette McAuliffe, Publisher & Editor in Chief Deborah Mayhall-Bradshaw, Designer Kathy Griewisch, Account Manager Meagan Goheen, Marketing Manager Tamara S. Randolph, Editor Keith Martin, Cultural Arts Editor Contributors:


During CML’s 25th Anniversary year, I have used this publisher’s note to ex press our appreciation to the various entities that make this magazine possible. In the Spring edition, I thanked our faithful advertisers who enable us to distrib ute 100,000 copies each year free-of-charge to inform our readership where to shop, dine, and explore. Last Summer, gratitude was expressed to our large team of dedicated writers, designers, and photographers whose expertise generates our original content. Then in our Autumn edition, we said thanks to the people, places and organizations who have given us the privilege of telling their stories. And now, last, but not least, we express our gratitude to the singular reason that we exist as a publication: YOU… our cherished readers.

I am always gratified when you take the time to mail, call, email, or stop by our office to simply say thanks. For example, Pete from Beech Mountain stated that he found a note he had written back in 2020 and wanted to go ahead and mail it to us. “With bourbon in hand, I sat to enjoy your Summer 2020 issue. You have published one of your best about the folks who make up the High Country. Your splendid thoughts that set the tone of dealing with the pandemic and moving forward – were nailed in such a positive manner.”

Just last week, Ashley from Banner Elk stopped by our office to say how much she enjoyed all the stories in our Autumn 2022 issue, naming details about each story. She followed up with a hand-written letter slid under our door citing why she enjoyed each feature. Thank you, Ashley.

Jerry from Virginia sent a handwritten note that said, “My wife and I spent the last few days enjoying activities in the NC mountains. While there, we picked up a copy of CML and were impressed by all the stories, schedules, tons of informa tion, etc. We want to subscribe so we can keep up on the happenings in the future and plan accordingly. We decided CML was the best way!”

What is even more fun is to walk into a local shop and see that a CML feature on their business is framed and visible in their entrance way. When I see a hint of dust on the top of the frame and the article dating back over fifteen years, I grin—sensing the longevity of the piece.

One of our writers told me recently that he happened to see a copy of our magazine in the seat back pocket on a flight from Chicago to Charlotte—how did it get there? Someone noted the other day that after dining at the Valle Crucis Conference Center they saw the framed story of Mildred Tester and her famous biscuit recipe.

These are just a few examples of how YOU, our readers, have inspired our en tire team to compile a diverse selection of stories and information for a quarter of a century… and counting!

From our entire CML team: THANKS for picking up our magazine and do let us hear from you!

Edwin Ansel, Estelle Brewer, Jim Casada, Trimella Chaney Nan Chase, Andrew Corpening, Kim S. Davis, Brennan Ford, Morgan Ford, Mark Freed, Gail Greco Jim Hamilton, Elizabeth Baird Hardy, Michael C. Hardy Rita Larkin, KJ Maj, Tom McAuliffe, Karen Rieley Landis Taylor, Mike Teague, Susan Wienke Doug Winbon, and Steve York. Share us with a friend! CML is published 4 times a year and is available by subscription for $35.00 a year (continental US) Send check or money order to: Carolina Mountain Life PO Box 976, Linville, NC 28646 828-737-0771
LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 13 Carolina
Life TM

Behind the Curtain: Meet Three of Our Writers!

Nan Chase

Nan K. Chase

Nan moved to North Carolina with her young family in 1981 and has lived near the Blue Ridge Parkway ever since. Today she lives in rural Southwest Virginia, where she is the volunteer tourism director for the town of Fries, but she returns to the North Carolina High Coun try to hike with her grandchildren along favorite trails at Grandfather Mountain and Julian Price Park. An avid gardener, Nan enjoys landscaping with Appalachian trees, shrubs and wildflowers. She is the author of Eat Your Yard! and co-author of Drink the Harvest. Among her favorite edible, drinkable native plants is the ser viceberry, or “sarvice.”

Kim S. Davis

Kim earned three degrees from Appalachian State, in cluding a B.S. in Business and Marketing and Master’s Degrees in Education and School Administration. She retired from Avery County Schools in 2018 to follow her dream of sailing, and she and her husband, Ja, have been sailing throughout the southeastern U.S. and the Bahamas aboard their 40-foot monohull, Sneaky Egret, for the past few years. Also a snow-skier, an avid wine appreciator, and foodie, Kim enjoys writing about her passions. She has been contributing to CML for five years and has also written numerous travel articles for an international yacht charter company.

Tom McAuliffe

Tom, a contributor to CML since 2004, began as editor, columnist, and features writer for the Mountain Times in 1978 upon earning his B.A. in English at App State. Regionally, his work has appeared in Carolinas Fairways, Palmetto Golfer, Carolina Greens, and internationally in Hemispheres, United Airlines’ in-flight magazine. Twice his entries earned First Place in the features category from the Carolina Golf Reporters Association after ap pearing in Carolina Mountain Life. Since 1995 he’s oper ated Tom’s Custom Golf and this spring enters his 23rd season as golf director of The Sugar Mountain Golf Club. An avid skier, ‘snow’ is Tom’s favorite four-letter word.

“Male Cardinal captured during a snowstorm using a Tamron 150-600 on a Nikon D500.  Using a shutter speed of 1/250th of a sec provided a small amount of motion and still captured the snow properly.”

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 15
Kim Davis Tom McAuliffe Cover Photo by Mike Koenig Mike Koenig is a local Nature Photographer living in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina with his wife and two children.
16 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE www.SkiCountrySports .com IN BANNER ELK, ACROSS FROM ENTRANCE TO SUGAR MTN. AREA’S NEWEST & BEST SKI & BOARD RENTALS Great People. Great Equipment. Great Service. The Perfect Weather for a Great Adventure—Guaranteed! Inside A Mountain O Constant 52 year-round • Guided tours • Explore our Gift Shop Visit our website for hours and recommended safety precautions Linville Caverns 19929 US 221 North, Marion, NC 28752 Between Linville & Marion, just 4 Miles South of the Blue Ridge Parkway 800-419-0540 CLUBS, PUTTERS, BALLS, SHOES , REGRIP, AND REPAIRS TOM'S CUSTOM GOLF 828.260.3107 tommycustomgolf@gmail com CALL US NOW FOR THE BEST PRICES IN THE HIGH COUNTRY!! Gift Certificates available!Dropship directlytoyou!
CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 17 Obtain the Property Report required by Federal law and read it before signing anything. No Federal agency has judged the merits or value, if any, of this property. This information shall not constitute a valid offer in any state where prior registration is required. © 2022 Blowing Rock Resort Venture, LLC. Schedule your Discovery Tour to begin a life well-lived. | | 828.352.8235 Homes from $999k | Homesites from $175k Minutes from Blowing Rock & Boone • World-Class Amenities • 50+ Miles of UTV & Hiking Trails Four-Season Community • Visit & Discover BRMC Every Season is Magical Here EXPLORE • DINE • RELAX • PLAY
18 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE WINTER SPORTS 2022/23 YOUR FIRST RESORT | 828-295-7828 18 18 19 23

Skiing’s Perfect World

As the golf course greens crews pull out the flagsticks for the final time at the end of each October, the conversa tion duly turns to the upcoming winter and the ski season that drives the moun tain economy for the next five months. Following a stellar autumn turn of the leaves a common question among visit ing golfers during October’s waning days of Indian Summer is “why so soon?”

For the skiers and snowboarders of the High Country, the answer is simple. Come November winter is likely to ar rive. The average opening day at Sugar Mountain Ski Resort over the past 20 years is November 15. The latest open ing day at the south’s flagship resort over the last decade was November 21. Ten years ago, fueled by Hurricane Sandy’s two-foot snow dump, Sugar opened on

Halloween sporting an average base of 40 inches of snow from the top of its Flying Mile. There was little reason to doubt that the 2022-2023 ski season kickoff would vary much from recent years.

As the November 8, 2022, midterm election results dragged into the No vember 11 Veterans’ Day celebrations, all eyes were on Sugar Mountain. And in spite of several days of torrential rains sending the creeks over their banks, the forecast for an early Arctic Clipper sent word from the top to get all hands on deck, as an armada of snowguns were poised to let loose as the rains were re placed by cold, dry air.

Beech Mountain, implementing a cutting edge All Weather Snow Making unit, had scheduled a Rail Jam event for

Saturday, November 12. Even as inches of rain soaked the mountains, the new contraption continued to produce snow in 58-degree temperatures, maintaining a pile of the white stuff. And although the event was ultimately postponed, it certainly made a statement to anyone watching that skiing is serious business south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Sugar began snowmaking in earnest two days later, and the southern ski sea son officially opened November 14 from the top of the mountain’s 5,300-ft. peak. Favored with a week of cold tempera tures, Beech and App Ski Mtn. opened to great fanfare four days later. It was, as they say, business as usual in the North Carolina High Country.

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 19

In Search of the Competitive Edge

Who knew 15 years ago a young Ryan Costin would be handed the keys to the family business that is the Beech Mountain Resort, restoring eastern America’s highest ski town to the giddy heights not seen in half a century. “What we’ve accomplished is just a reflection of the North Carolina Ski Industry as a whole,” Costin said. “All the invest ment is the direct result of the success of southern skiing. It shows how much it means to skiers here.”

Of course, Costin is in fast company as neighboring resorts Appalachian Ski Mountain and Sugar Mountain Resort hold nothing back in refining their re spective snowmaking capacities and du eling annual upgrades to lift operations. But from day one Costin jumped into the fray feet first and acquitted himself quite nicely.

His primary point of attack as he launched his twenty-year plan, (which began as his one-year plan), was to im prove snowmaking and with it groom ing. He had a ways to go to catch up with his uber aggressive counterparts, and along the way he revitalized the Bavarian Village that was the hallmark of the late Grover Robbin’s four-season vision. The

ancient ice rink is gone, but in its place flagstone and firepits, a brewery, and an entertainment schedule that leads the league in hits and runs batted in. This season, the last of the original ski lifts from the late sixties was replaced with a fixed-grip Quad Chairlift joining the recent replacement of two summit lifts that has doubled skier capacity to the top of the mountain. The 5506 Bar, with a stunning panoramic view, sits atop the slopes, and for winter sports enthusiasts, or summertime mountain bikers, has proven an overwhelming success in Cos tin’s revitalization of the resort.

The strategy appealed to all ages, es pecially the younger set. This season the resort opens more terrain park features than ever before, offering a ground lift and increased snowmaking over the original tube run acreage, upping his game at the Meadows and re-dedicating Powder Bowl to the Big Air crowd, both areas serviced by the new fixed quad lift delivering riders to the top of Lower Shawneehaw.

Consistent with his youth move ment, Costin, a Resort Management graduate of Western Colorado Univer sity, has teamed up with Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk implementing a new minor at the school housed in the



redone ViewHaus, rechristened “The Lodge,” the resort’s primary food and beverage venue.

“I hope it builds a group of college graduates and cultivates opportunities to pursue a career in recreation,” Cos tin said. “They could stay here or go out into the world. They’ll see all the parts of the industry here and then explore year-round opportunities and not just seasonal work.”

For all the improvements which have served to elevate Beech Mountain in the eyes of consumers, it still boils down to the weather and snowmaking and Ryan Costin viewed that as “Job One” from day one. And it has paid off.

“We’ve seen consistent growth over the last three seasons,” Costin said, “and we’ve been able to handle it, but when the Robbins opened the resort no one could have foreseen cars parking all over the mountain to ski.”

Anticipating a return to normalcy af ter the crush of visitors during the peak of the pandemic, Costin added, “if you can find a parking space we’ll have a lift ticket for you.”

Not to mention, a destination resort that has resurrected the alpine spirit in tended by its founders fifty years ago.

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 21 continued...


The Quest for Perfection

It was the first ski area in the neighborhood, land-wise the smallest, and sometimes viewed by the unindoctrinated as some thing of an afterthought in a region which as a whole was often dismissed by western aficionados. Look hard enough, and you can find flaws or shortcomings in any enterprise, but Appalachian Ski Mountain may be the closest to perfection of any ski area in the world. Opened in 1962 by impresario Bill Thalheimer, a wideeyed southern population flocked to the novel winter attraction with bemusement and wonder. But in spite of Thalheimer’s best efforts the Blowing Rock Ski Lodge fell into receivership in 1968 and into the hands of Grady and Reba Moretz, who knew just enough to know ‘just how little they knew” about running a ski resort. They named local ski pioneer Jim Cottrell to handle in struction, an enterprise within an enterprise later known as the French-Swiss Ski College, and applied practical business sense to an impractical business model so dependent on the whim of the weather. Cottrell attracted the curious youth from dozens of col leges he convinced to provide Physical Education course credits for taking part in his “Learn to Ski” weekends. Grady ran the ship, and Reba, an elementary school educator, kept the ledger.

Grady’s gone now, and Reba retired, but the resort remains in the hands of the Moretz family. With the same attention to detail taught him by his father, Brad Moretz has taken innovation and snowmaking obsession to a new level. Daughter Brenda brings the same merchandising acumen learned from her mother in the ski and snowboard shop and gift store. Cottrell’s retired as well, with the iconic French-Swiss Ski College in the capable hands of French national Benjamin Marcellin.

AppSkiMtn. was late to the snowboard and terrain park party, but after Grady lifted the resort’s snowboarder prohibition in 1998, one of the last in North America to do so, Brad Moretz tabbed local rider Drew Stanley to move the mountain into the

22 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE

next century. Stanley, who’s father Steve is the chief snowmaker there, was given carte blanche to manage terrain park develop ment. A group of his peers were fabricating features while his dad piled on the snow. It created a new culture at the Blowing Rock resort.

Yet snowmaking prowess aside, where it is said the snowmak ing complex can bury the tightly groomed terrain in three feet of snow in a 24-hour time frame, it’s the Flex Ticket offering that sets them apart.

On-line registration is not just recommended, but is required. The standard 8-hour ski session has gone the way of the dinosaur with the flex ticket. Your session begins when you hit the snow. To remove bottlenecks at peak arrival times, you can book your arrivals in five-minute intervals. On-line reservations’ kiosks are in the lodge as well. And this winter, Moretz and Company have taken innovation a step further. Radio Frequency Identification Cards (RFID) are the rule of the day.

Riders are issued a card at check-in that contains all their ses sion time, rental specs, and terrain park certification results (on line exam required for Appalachian Terrain Park access). Tuck the card anywhere, in your boot, in your jacket, and the card is read as you prepare to load on the lift or in the terrain park. Gone is the manual ticket reader and with it the wire, sticky wicket and delays from the fun.

The program is one of six in North America, but the only one in the U.S. that integrates equipment rental data.

“We’re maximizing your time on the slopes,” Moretz said. “Like at the golf course you arrive at the appointed time. But if you need rentals, a snack, or to use the restroom, your session begins when you step on the snow. And that’s what we all want.”

Nothing’s perfect in this world, but sometimes we get close.

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 23

Sugar Mountain Ski Resort

24 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE
North Carolina

Can You ‘Outdo’ Sugar Mountain?

That’s a question often up for debate in Avery and Watauga Counties. But even as AppSkiMtn and Beech continue to reach new heights each season, owner Gunther Jochl and his family-driven crew at Sugar Mountain hold a trump card or two. First is the mountain’s 1,200 ft of vertical drop over 125-acres of wild ly diverse terrain. Second is the resort’s heralded “first to the guns” mentality and perhaps thirdly is the hands-on hard driving approach to each day’s slope con ditions. For years Jochl has been on local radio early each morning during the ski season providing a first-hand account of the day ahead from the cabin of a Model 600 Pisten Bully grooming machine.

“You know, sometimes conditions are great and sometimes not so great,” Jochl noted in the past, “but we try to deliver the best conditions possible on any given day with what the weather gives us.”

After the pre-dawn grooming detail, Jochl, usually accompanied by his wife of 25 years, takes in a few runs for a first hand look. A former U.S. Women’s Al pine Ski Team member and the face and voice of the mountain, Kim Jochl, joined on occasion by her twin sister, two-time Olympian Krista, have shaped a winning culture in a region some once called un likely for Alpine sports. “We share the same latitude on Sugar as the Sahara Desert,” Gunther once marveled. “But

the way the weather forms up on the mountain, it will be cold.”

New this year on Sugar is a four-seat detachable chairlift at Oma’s Meadow, or Big Red as the run was called in another lifetime. Oma’s Run is popular with in termediate to expert riders and the site for NASTAR racing each weekend and the venue for Monday Night’s Racing League. The loading area has been wid ened for a smoother merge with skiers coming up from the base lodge on Big Birch connecting with Oma’s Run creat ing a fun run top to bottom. Big Birch’s old triple chair was replaced three years ago, outfitted with its own fixed grip Quad. The latest edition is the third de tachable lift at Sugar since the six-seat Summit Express debuted in 2016. Ride time has been reduced from 9 minutes to just under three making the transfer from Big Birch to the top of Oma’s a winning combination. The terrain has been refined for better space for load ing and ten new mobile snowmaking fan guns have been added to Oma’s Mead ow. “What good does a new lift do you without adding more snowmaking, Jochl said “Convenience, safety and ease was our plan.”

Yards of dirt taken from the reconfig uration of Oma’s Meadow were carried to top of the mountain to cap the terrain of the intermediate North Ridge slope, the gateway to the Flying Mile, where erosion had exposed unwanted rocky


terrain. Riders will feel the difference.

Two years ago, another detachable four-seater made its debut on Easy Street, arguably the best beginner/in termediate terrain in the neighborhood. A much needed grading project at the unloading station on Easy Street elimi nated the infamous ‘Fannie Hill”, and resulted in a half-mile run embraced by skiers just moving up from the Sugar Bear Ski School, enhanced this season by a plexiglass tube-like cover the length of the 400 foot magic carpet conveyor.

Over the summer a major dredg ing project increased water supply for snowmaking and the massive equipment rental area improved its floorplan and added locker space. “It’s always out with the old and in with the new,” Jochl said of the revamped rental department that features Head skis and snowboards. All things considered it was a very produc tive summer.

While the completion of the new lift came three weeks later than hoped, the official grand opening celebration occurs December 10, during the annual Sugar fest Weekend. “We’ve had to work extra hard,” Jochl said of the summer expan sion which experienced everything Mur phy’s Law could through at him and his crew. “Everybody is tired, but everyone is in good spirits.”

That good spirit will play well for visitors to the mountain in the winter of 2023.

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 25
26 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE 25TH Annual Be sure to visit 828.295.7111 • Rock Road, B lo wing Rock NC • th Carolin a ’ s O l dest T r avel Attraction, Since 1933 “Enjoy the Legend” The Blowing Rock TAKE YOUR VISIT TO THE NEXT LEVEL NORTH CAROLINA’S OLDEST TRAVEL ATTRACTION, SINCE 1933 432 The Rock Road, Blowing Rock, NC 28645 828.295.7111, “Enjoy the Legend” CRITTER FRIENDLY 4393 Elk Park Highway Elk Park, NC 28622 EFFICIENCIES EFFICIENCIES W/LOFT 1 & 2 BEDROOM CONDOS Wi-Fi in all units, Indoor heated pool, sauna, hot tub & fitness room Ski In/Out on Oma’s Meadow 100 Sugar Ski Drive Banner Elk NC 28604 800.634.1320 4 CABLE WINTER TOUR OVER 30 TUBING LANES FROM 400-1000 FT BUY TICKETS ONLINE! RESERVATIONS RECOMMENDED come FLY with us! Off Hwy 105 Between Boone & Banner Elk |
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Think of the High Country in the winter and, no doubt, you think of snowboarding and snow skiing. After all, the area boasts three great ski mountains, including Beech Mountain Resort, Sugar Mountain Resort, and Appalachian Ski Mountain.

But many other opportunities abound this season—for all ages and interests, indoors and out. Check out this helpful directory of just some of the endless winter activities available to High Country visitors and residents. Be sure to Google the website or Facebook page for each listing to find addresses, days and hours of operation, costs, age restrictions, advance reservation requirements and other specifics.

Seize the Winter



Apple Hill Farm in Banner Elk features al pacas, llamas, angora goats, and more! Find joy and connection through the animals and the experience of a real working farm. Take the 60-minute guided tour and leave with a smile on your face and memories to share. Public tours are offered Wednesday through Saturday during the winter months, with private tours offered seven days a week. Tours by advance reservation only.

Grandfather Mountain in Linville fea tures the Mile-High Swinging Bridge. Weather permitting, the swinging bridge is the perfect spot to take in the endless winter vistas and capture the snowcapped mountains. After wards, head down to the Wilson Center for Discovery, and the animal habitats, where you can see how otter, cougars and eagles stay busy during the winter months!

Linville Caverns in Marion are the only show caverns in NC and have a constant year-round temperature of 52 degrees. This is a perfect place to visit on a cold and windy winter day! See the winter hibernation of granddaddy long-legs and unique limestone formations. The caverns are open on week ends only during the winter. Bring a raincoat or a coat with a hood. The cave tends to drip!

Mountain Warriors UTV in Elk Park is a recreational UTV touring business that offers scenery, fun and adventure started by moth er and son Regina and Carson Gordon. It has more than 80 acres of land and trails, with top-of-the-line Polaris Rzr 1000 XP 4-seater vehicles. This is a guided UTV tour that offers views of the Appalachian Mountains, beauti ful trail riding and intense hill climbing.

Mystery Hill in Blowing Rock is a unique blend of indoor and outdoor adventure. Explore the mysterious Natural Gravitational Anomaly, and watch a ball roll upwards and water flow uphill! Have fun with weird sci ence in the hands-on science attraction, the Hall of Mystery, or encase your friends in a giant bubble at Bubblerama. Try your hand at axe or knife throwing and brave the Bull Rid ing Challenge at Tomahawk Hill. This winter, experience Crazy Christmas at Mystery Hill with daily elf hunts, Christmas Crafts, Christ mas-themed photos, gem mining for Christ mas jewels, snowball fights and weekend ac tivities, including a YETI encounter, roaming carolers, Christmas light walk, Santa’s landing and more! (Also see “Museums” below.)

The Blowing Rock in Blowing Rock is North Carolina’s oldest tourist attraction. Enjoy the endless winter views and read the legend. Call ahead for hours, especially dur ing inclement weather.

The Children’s Playhouse in Boone pro vides children from birth to age eight with an enriching, educational play environment while at the same time offering their parents and caregivers friendly support in the impor tant job of raising children.

Hero’s Axe House at Shoppes of Tyn ecastle in Banner Elk/Seven Devils, is a pre mier axe throwing venue with unique pro jected axe throwing targets. Hero’s hosts axe throwing birthday parties, bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, team-building events, company events, and a variety of other spe cial occasions. Open Thursday through Satur day, and by appointment.

YMCA of Avery County has something for everyone! Visitors can get a day pass and

access everything the YMCA has to offer, in cluding the indoor swimming pool with wa ter slides and aerobics classes, a wide variety of group exercise classes, the Wellness Center with cardio and strength machines, basket ball courts, indoor batting cages, golf simula tors, drop-in childcare and more! If you’re staying longer, ask about YMCA membership opportunities. You can also see upcoming holiday programs and events on the YMCA website and social media accounts.

The Fred and Margie Pfohl Buckeye Recreation Center in Beech Mountain of fers non-members day passes for full access to the facility, including a weight room, regulation-size gym, indoor tennis courts and a soft playroom for kids eight and under. The lobby provides Wi-Fi, cozy seating and an extensive lending library. Fitness classes are offered as well. The recreation center also manages the free canoe and kayak rentals on Buckeye Lake.

Sugar Creek Mining Company in Banner Elk lets you experience the thrill of prospect ing for your very own authentic gemstones. You’re guaranteed to find precious and semi-precious gemstones in every bucket. The expert staff will set you up on the heated flume line and then help you pan for gems and identify them. If desired, expert gem cut ters can cut your rough gemstones and set it into a piece of jewelry.

Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock cel ebrates the holiday season through Dec. 30 with Tweetsie Christmas, a winter wonderland and a nighttime train ride among thousands of dazzling lights! Enjoy the rides, shops, Santa, and much more.

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 29 Continued on next page

Seize the Winter

Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster in Ban ner Elk is the first alpine coaster in the North Carolina mountains. Each cart accommodates one or two people. Once the cart is pulled by a cable to the top, the remainder of the ride is downhill—fed by gravity—on multiple 360-degree loops, with riders using hand brakes to control the speeds, which reach up to 27 miles per hour.

Breweries & Wineries

The High Country is home to several great breweries, including Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Beech Mountain Brew ing Company, Blowing Rock Brewery, Boondocks Brewing Tap Room & Restau rant, Booneshine Brewers, Kettell Beer works, Lost Province Brewing Company, and New River Brewing

If wine is your preference, check out the wineries on the High Country Wine Trail in cluding Banner Elk Winery & Villa, Eagles Nest Winery, Grandfather Vineyard & Win ery, Linville Falls Winery, Thistle Meadow Winery, and Watauga Lake Winery.


Winter hiking offers crystal clear views, fewer people on the trails, and peace and quiet. And it’s worth braving the chill to make your way to one of the area’s waterfalls that transform into wondrous works of icy art dur ing the winter season.

In Blowing Rock, Glen Burney Falls Trail is less than two miles long and offers several mini falls along the way that make for good photographs.

Blue Ridge Parkway has many trails to ex plore: Moses H. Cone Memorial Park Trails at Milepost 294 near Blowing Rock include 25 miles of historic carriage roads that are now wide, gravel trails. Three top hiking picks are: Flat Top Road Trail, about a six-mile hike from Flat Top Manor; Bass Lake Trail, an easy eight-tenths of a mile loop that takes you around the lake that is accessed from the Bass Lake entrance on U.S. 221 just outside downtown Blowing Rock; and Rich Moun tain, about a five-mile roundtrip hike from Shulls Mill Road Julian Price Memorial Park at Milepost 296.7 is a majestic 4,200 acres at the foot of Grandfather Mountain. The park lies directly adjacent to Moses H. Cone Me morial Park. Price Lake Trail at Milepost 297 is a 2.5-mile loop trail that is mostly flat with plenty of lake vistas. Green Knob/Sims Pond Trail, inside Julian Price Memorial Park, is a 2.4-mile loop trail by a pond and cascades, and through a highland pasture Boone Fork Trail, another loop trail in Julian Price Memorial Park, is five miles, taking you by many small waterfalls and through rho dodendron tunnels. Tanawha Trail stretches 13.5 miles from Julian Price Memorial Park to Beacon Heights and parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway on Grandfather Mountain. The many accesses from the parkway let hikers choose as long a section as they like. Marked with white blazes, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) runs jointly with Tanawha Trail. The MST stretches from Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the NC coast. Rough Ridge at Milepost 302.8 is actually a part of the larger 13.5-mile Tanawha Trail, but it is also a popular trail in its own right. Beacon Heights Overlook Trail at Blue Ridge Park way Milepost 305.2 near Linville, N.C., is a short hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway to a

stone summit with big views, especially nice for picnics. Flat Rock Nature Trail at Milepost 308.3 is a mostly flat, ¾-mile loop that offers panoramic views from a “stone mountain” as you walk across the smooth rock summit. Linville Falls at Milepost 316 is the most popular waterfall in the Blue Ridge Moun tains. It is a spectacular, three-tiered waterfall plunging into Linville Gorge, the “Grand Can yon of the Southern Appalachians.” The Falls Trail distance is 1.6 miles round trip and easy. The Gorge Trail distance is 1.4 miles round trip and strenuous. The Plunge Basin Trail is a one-mile round trip and moderate.

Grandfather Mountain, the privately owned nonprofit nature park near Linville, of fers access to 12 miles of premier hiking trails, some of which venture into the adjacent Grandfather Mountain State Park. The nature park offers access to 11 trails varying in dif ficulty from a gentle walk in the woods to a rigorous trek across rugged peaks. In-park trails include the Woods Walk, Black Rock Nature Trail and Bridge Trail. The nature park also provides access to backcountry trails within Grandfather Mountain State Park. Along the Grandfather Trail, a very strenu ous trail that runs from the mountain’s Hiker Parking Lot out 2.4 miles to Calloway Peak, hikers use in-place cables and ladders for extra steep sections and at times are travers ing the ridgeline of the mountain. If guests plan on hiking the backcountry trails, they’re asked to fill out hiking permits before setting out. These permits also give the hiker contact information to utilize if needed. Profile Trail is a 3.6-mile strenuous trail inside Grandfa ther Mountain State Park that takes you up the side of Grandfather Mountain to Calloway Gap. The trailhead to access the Profile Trail is located at 4198 NC Highway 105 North.

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Williams Park in Sugar Mountain is a wooded 14-acre boulder-field forest with three short hiking trails that follow a cascad ing stream.

Beech Mountain Trails offer hikers of all ages and skill levels a number of options: Emerald Outback features more than eight miles of outstanding trails near the moun tain’s summit. Upper Pond Creek Trail is Beech Mountain’s favorite trail with an easy one-mile hike and 15 different educational stations. Wild Iris Trail is an easy 2.5-mile woodland trail with only a moderate eleva tion change. A trail for all seasons, Wild Iris is perfect for hiking and biking as well as crosscountry skiing and snowshoeing. Lower Pond Creek Trail is a one-mile moderate to strenuous trail that offers some of Beech Mountain’s greatest natural beauty. Hi-Lo Trail starts at Beech Mountain and offers you three choices of trails—the Tasters Loop, Lakeside Loop and Mountain to Mountain Loop.

Elk Knob Summit Trail in Todd is 1.9 miles to one of the highest peaks of the Ap palachians.

Otter Falls Trail in Seven Devils is a short 6/10-mile trail to a 25-foot waterfall.

Crab Orchard Falls Trail in Valle Crucis is a 1.5-mile roundtrip hike that takes you to the beautiful Crab Orchard Falls waterfall. Access to the trail is behind the Valle Crucis Confer ence Center.

Elk River Falls Trail in Elk Park is a short half-mile hike that leads you to a 50-foot waterfall cascading over a cliff.

Waterfalls Park in Newland is a small roadside park on NC Highway 194 across

from Ingle’s grocery store with a 50-foot multi-tier waterfall for easy enjoyment for all, including picnic tables and a short trail.

Big & Little Lost Cove Cliff Trails near Newland are two sections of Lost Cove Cliffs in Pisgah National Forest and in the Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River Area. You can hike to both Big Lost Cove Cliffs and Little Lost Cove Cliffs with this 5.5-mile trail combo.

Hawksbill Mountain Trail in Burke Coun ty is a 1.5-mile roundtrip hike to the summit of Hawksbill Mountain offering panoramic views of the canyon of Linville Gorge Wilder ness Area with the valley floor and Linville River 2,000 feet below you.

Indoor Climbing

When being outside is less than appeal ing, indoor climbing can be a great alterna tive. Two facilities in Boone offer superb options. Center 45 Climbing & Fitness has 2,000 square feet of indoor climbing (boul dering) terrain. The walls are all 14 feet at the apex with varied terrain. Every week, talented and creative route setters craft new and excit ing climbs. The facility also offers additional weightlifting and general fitness opportuni ties, along with a climbing-specific training area. Rock Dimensions Tower, next to the Footsloggers store in downtown Boone, stands about 40 feet tall and has more than 4,000 square feet of varying climbing terrain to accommodate both beginners and sea soned veterans. The “Tower to Rock” program combines a tower experience with climbing out on real rock all in a day! Staff belays as

well as belay classes and certification op portunities for belaying at the tower are also offered.


25th Blowing Rock Winterfest returns to Blowing Rock January 26 – 29, 2023. Jump into winter with the Polar Bear Plunge and Beer Garden. Keep warm with restaurant spe cials, a Chili Challenge and family activities at area attractions. Shop till you drop on Main Street while enjoying the Ice Carving demos in Memorial Park. Whether you’re looking for a couple’s getaway or a family friendly week end, WinterFest has something for everyone!

Chetola Resort at Blowing Rock’s Festival of Lights in Blowing Rock becomes a Winter Wonderland through January 2023, with over 50,000 dazzling lights around Chet ola Lake. Make the drive around the resort and Chetola Lake for a stunning winter lights experience—the warm colors against a cool mountain background makes for a view like no other and highlights the natural beauty of the High Country. The displays illuminate at dusk each evening. The festival is a High Country tradition that culminates in Blowing Rock’s Winterfest.

Additional Holiday Festivities are of fered in each of the High Country’s towns. Holiday decorations and twinkling lights are especially magical against a background of snow in the High Country. Check out the parades and Christmas tree and art exhibits.

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 31 Continued on next page

FishingIf your passion is fishing, winter is an ideal season to stalk wily mountain trout. The crowds are gone, leaving you with soli tude, spectacular scenery, and brook, brown and rainbow trout. There are guide services around the High Country offering outings.

Galleries Art Trails Workshops

Artists’ creativity never lets up. Winter can be a great opportunity to see some of the lat est creations by local artists before the spring crowds arrive. Workshops and other events are also held throughout the year. Carlton Gallery is one of the foremost fine art gal leries in the High Country of Western North Carolina exhibiting paintings, glass, sculp ture, wood, clay, wearable fiber and jewelry. Crossnore School and Children’s Home has provided hope and healing for North Carolina’s children in need for more than 100 years. In support of their mission, the Cross nore campus invites the public to several arts and crafts venues, including an Appalachian weaving museum and gallery, Crossnore Weavers, and Crossnore Fine Arts Gallery. Mica Gallery in Bakersville is a cooperative gallery of fine crafts, showcasing the work of its 13 members whose creative lives have been nurtured by the energy of the sur rounding Blue Ridge Mountains. On display

and available for sale is a variety of functional and sculptural ceramics, glass, fiber, metal and paintings. The gallery at Jones House in downtown Boone showcases local and regional artists in changing monthly exhibits. Also in Boone, you’ll find Hands Gallery, Doe Ridge Pottery, Blue Ridge ArtSpace, and more.

The NC High Country Fresco Trail throughout the High Country includes more than a dozen frescoes painted in small mountain churches in the 1970s by artist Ben Long, a NC native. Follow the trail to see the following: 1849 St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Fresco, downtown Wilkesboro; Holy Trinity Church Fresco, Glendale Springs; St Mary’s Church Fresco, West Jefferson; and Sloop Chapel, Crossnore.

Many other galleries and crafts venues are open through the winter season. One of the best resources for finding listings and details of all the galleries and art trails in the region is at the Blue Ridge Craft Trails website: blue-ridge-craft-trails. You can also visit our local Arts Councils’ websites, including Ashe County Arts Council, Watauga Arts Council, Toe River Arts, the Cultural Arts Council of Wilkes, and the North Carolina Arts Council.

Let’s Be Artsy! in Boone unleashes your creative side. The talented team of instructors guides you step by step through the session’s featured painting. All painting supplies and artist instructions are provided. No art ex perience is needed. You can even take a fun, introductory belly dancing class, too!

Horseback Riding

Riding a horse or taking a carriage ride through snow-covered woods can be a one-ofa-kind experience. Two services offer 2.5-hour guided tours with trustworthy horses on easy carriage trails throughout Moses H. Cone Memorial Park at Milepost 294 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. VX3 Trail Rides offers custom rides for individual riders with experienced trail guide Tim Vines. Rides are limited to a maxi mum of five to give you the best experience possible. Carriage Run Carriage Service offers carriage rides on the 32 miles of carriage trails in the Cone Estate.


BRAHM (Blowing Rock Art and History Museum) in Blowing Rock promotes the arts and Southern Appalachian heritage and histo ry through educational programs, exhibitions, activities and permanent collections. Current exhibitions include: “Trash Trout Picture Show” through February, 4; “Uncommon Volumes: Sculptural Selections from Studio Glass in the Region” through February 25; “Coast to Coast: Contrasts & Shared Values Across American Impressionism” through March 18; “Geometry with Feeling: Ida Kohlmeyer in Two & Three Di mensions” through May 7; “Recent Acquisitions to BRAHM’s Permanent Collection,” through May 14; “Earth & Fowl: Chickens and Other Poultry in Clay” through July 25; The Janet H. Wilson Collection, ongoing; Philip Moose, per manent collection; and “The Village of Blowing Rock: Exploring Our History,” permanent exhibit.

32 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE
SNOWSHOEING Sugar Mountain Photo by Tracy Brown FISHING

Appalachian State University’s Turchin Center for the Visual Arts in Boone offers free admission to the following permanent col lections and rotating exhibitions: “Folded and Gathered: Nicole Pietrantoni” through February 4; “Transformations: App DigiFab” through May 6; “Thin Places: Kiliii Yuyan” through May 6; “Al tered Environments/Tidalectics: April Flanders, Guest Curator” through May 6; “36th Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Competition and Exhibi tion” through May 14; “Campus Arts Corridor,” current displays through August 1; “Say:Word, a site-specific installation by Renee Cloud & de’Angelo DIA,” Jan 20 - Jun 3, 2023.

Mystery Hill Museums include the 1903 Dougherty House: Appalachian Heritage Museum and Appalachian Fossil Museum in Blowing Rock. The Dougherty House was the first home in the area to have electricity and running water. The home is being restored to its original 1903 condition. Guests can tour the home, which is filled with turn-of-the-century furniture, antiques and memorabilia. Appala chian Fossil Museum displays North Carolina’s largest private collection of fossils.

The Museum of Ashe County History, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the historic 1904 Ashe County Courthouse building as a county heritage museum for visitors of all ages. The museum features a number of permanent and revolving exhibits, such as “Mining,” “Virginia Creeper,” and “Moonshine and Music.”

The Avery County Historical Museum in Newland is housed in the old county jail and features exhibits on railroads, local Civil War history, and country music stars Lulu Belle and Scotty Wiseman, among many others exhibits. The museum is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Music: Live and Indoors

Check out the many restaurants, breweries and wineries throughout this issue to find live music, from jazz to traditional mountain jams, all season long. Also, check out this issue’s Cul tural Calendar for winter concert opportunities. Visit the Ashe County Arts Council’s website calendar for year round music to include Kru ger Brothers, Ciompi Quartet, Hayes School of Music Faculty Ensemble and much more.

Reading Educationaland Programming

Winter is the perfect time to cozy up with a book. The Appalachian Regional Library System is known for its wonderful collec tions, librarians and special programming throughout the year. Visit the Ashe County Public Library in West Jefferson, the Watauga County Library in downtown Boone, and the Wilkes County Library in North Wilkesboro. The Avery-Mitchell-Yancey Regional Library System also offers modern and cozy facilities, knowledgeable staff, and a variety of ameni ties, with branches in Newland, Bakersville, Burnsville and Spruce Pine.

In downtown Banner Elk, be sure to visit the Banner Elk Book Exchange where you can “Bring a Book, Take a Book” (or puzzle) throughout the year. The Book Exchange recently added to their regional collection— books written by regional authors or about regional subjects.

Snow & Ice


If you’re looking for fun, easy, and safe new ways to stay active and energized over the winter months, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing offer great alternatives for out door enthusiasts of every age and skill-level to get out and explore winter. They are much faster to learn, and are also more affordable as a sport. The region offers a variety of op tions.

Beech Mountain has an extensive trail system available for snowshoeing with all levels of difficulty. Experienced snowshoers might consider the Emerald Outback trails at the top of the mountain. An easier snowshoe ing option is the 1/3-mile walking track sur rounding the Buckeye Recreation Center.

Sugar Mountain Resort offers a snow shoe guided tour that can be a casual walk or an intense workout in a wonderful winter wonderland.

Boone Greenway Trail (Boone, NC) is a nice flat trail that meanders through the woods and mountains and along creek beds. The trail is maintained by the Town of Boone, but it is “last on the list” to be scraped for snow after all town sidewalks and roads are clear, so there is a good chance you can get in some skiing if you arrive right after a good snow!

Blue Ridge Parkway is closed to vehicles due to ice or snow, it is open to hiking, crosscountry skiing and snowshoeing. Visit the National Park Service website for Blue Ridge

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 33
Continued on next page

Seize the Winter

Parkway road closures. Two good starting points are the gate on U.S. 221 near Beacon Heights to travel to the Linn Cover Viaduct, and off U.S. 221 just outside of Blowing Rock and south of the Cone estate on the parkway. In both cases, make sure to park without blocking the gates in case a park ranger needs to enter the area.

Moses H. Cone Memorial Park near Blowing Rock offers some fine cross-country skiing in an attractive and historic venue.

Valle Crucis Park has a nice and flat ¾-mile paved loop that is great for crosscountry skiing. (The park also offers excellent trout fishing locations that are accessible on snowy days.)

Elk Knob State Park in Todd is the only North Carolina State Park to offer crosscountry skiing.

Roan Mountain State Park in Tennessee sits at the foot of the soaring ridgetop for which it is named. Roan Mountain gets more snow than other local areas. It offers a variety of terrain—from scenic routes for novices to thrilling downhills for experts (though none of the trails are groomed).


If you want to expose children to the lifelong sport of downhill skiing, you’re in the right place. While you can learn at any age, kids have the advantage of being flexible, nimble and relatively fearless. Enrolling your child in one of the region’s ski or snowboard ing camps is a great way to introduce them to a positive and fun first-time experience. Plus, while they’re in camp, you’re freed up to enjoy some adults-only time!

Appalachian Ski Mountain has SKIwee and Cruiser Camp programs designed to teach beginning skiers, ages 4-10, and snow boarders, ages 7-12.

Beech Mountain Resort offers several kids’ camps: Burton Learn to Ride Center for ages 6-12 to learn the basics of snowboard ing; Snow Kamp for ages 3-5 to provide a positive and fun first-time experience; and Traxx ski instruction for ages 6-12. Also, Ski & Ride School offers hourly lessons for ages 4 and older and Snowflakes Childcare watches kids, ages 1-5, while adults hit the slope.

Sugar Mountain Ski Resort’s Children’s Snowsports School includes Sugar Bear Ski and Polar Bear Snowboard schools to teach skiing to children, ages 5-10, and snowboard ing to children, ages 7-14.


Sledding is the easiest and most accessi ble winter activity for all ages. It can be done almost anywhere there is a hill and public property—an inexpensive plastic sled will do—and snow in the High Country is almost certain throughout the season!

Beech Mountain has a popular sledding hill across the street from the Visitor Center and behind the Brick Oven Pizzeria. It can be accessed from Bark Park Way, the paved road that runs beside the pizzeria. Parking is either in the public gravel lot just before the res taurant off the Beech Mountain Parkway, or the new, paved pay-to-park lot on Bark Park Way. Two state-of-the-art snow guns ensure a good base and quick coverage when the weather is optimal for snowmaking. Only plastic sleds may be used—no tubes or sleds with metal runners.


If snow tubing and ziplining are more your speed and comfort level, you have several great choices in the High Country. All offer sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, plenty of lanes, snowmaking, plus moving carpet lifts to quickly transport you back to the top. Check out Beech Mountain Resort, Hawksnest in Seven Devils, and Sugar Mountain Resort, all in the northwest mountains of North Carolina.


While others are skiing or snowboarding on the slopes, you and your children may enjoy ice skating. Sugar Mountain Ski Resort has the added advantage of ice skating located next door to restaurants, retail stores and other amenities. At Appalachian Ski Mountain, families can watch the resort’s Zamboni scrape the ice floor to get the rink ready for skaters!


When the weather turns blustery and cold, a matinee or night at the theatre may be in order. Check out the offerings around the region, such as the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country, several groups at Appalachian State University (Department of Dance, Hayes School of Music, and the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts), BeanStalk Community Theatre and Blue Ridge Community Theatre in Boone; Ensemble Stage and Lees-McRae College performances in Banner Elk; and Ashe County Little Theatre in West Jefferson, among many others. See the CML Cultural Calendar for a complete listing of upcoming productions and contact information for each theatre.

34 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE
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New Hybrid Season Offers Wide Variety of Cultural Events

Those of us who are a certain age fondly remember Princess Summerfall Winter spring from the classic children’s television program “Howdy Doody.” She was intro duced as a puppet, then played by actress Judy Tyler and, eventually, portrayed by a marionette. Her character’s name comes to mind as I realize that CML’s quarterly cultural calendars have now merged into two distinct seasons: Summerfall and Win terspring.

The former has just drawn to a success ful close with a record amount of events and productions, and the latter promises an even greater number of concerts, festi vals, plays, musicals, and dance events that will welcome local residents and visitors alike.

Here is a selection of events that have been announced for Winterspring (from now through mid-April), listed alphabeti cally by producing company, with dozens of productions by our colleges and univer sities listed separately. PLEASE NOTE that all of the performances, dates, and times are subject to change; readers are strongly encouraged to check individual websites and/or the theatre box offices for the most current information.

See you at the theatre!

With 18 events last month alone, we’ve given up previewing ALL of the offerings at the APPALACHIAN THEATRE OF THE HIGH COUNTRY (ATHC) and are focusing on the highlights. Concert-wise, five-time International Bluegrass Music Association “Fiddle Player of the Year” Jason Carter & Friends: Lowdown Hoedown Tour takes to the Doc Watson stage on January 27. Cart er is best known for his three decades with the Del McCoury Band, and the Travelin’

McCourys. On February 24, Chatham Rab bits make their long-awaited App Theatre debut. No Depression, the Journal of Roots Music, said, “When you see [this] NC folk duo on stage, you’re getting the real deal: heartfelt lyrics… an instant connection with audiences, and banter that can only come from a married duo that spends way too much time together but still manages to be in love.”

Dervish, a traditional music group from County Sligo, Ireland, performs on March 11. Described by BBC Radio 3 as “an icon of Irish music,” their album “The Great Irish Song Book” features a selection of classic Irish songs sung by a number of wellknown singers, including Steve Earle, Vince Gill, and Rhiannon Giddens. In 2019 they received a lifetime achievement award from the BBC. On March 24, “The future of Bluegrass” comes home to perform when Deep Gap-based Liam Purcell & Cane Mill Road “rock the traditional bluegrass standards they were raised on, yet boldly write original music with roots in the fertile grounds of bluegrass, old-time, and Ameri cana.” - No Depression

Most noteworthy is the new Local Night @TheApp series taking place on the Thursday nights of January 12 and 26, Feb ruary 9 and 23, and March 9 and 23. This unique and much-needed series show cases the talent of High Country musicians, most of whom are emerging artists making their debut performances at “The App.”

And then there are the films, whose screenings return the 1938 Art Deco venue to its original roots. Each month features a different theme with Staff Picks in January, Classic Romance in February, Classic Sports movies in March, and Classic Fantasy films in April. On February 25, Boone Docs, a

one-day film festival, celebrates life in Ap palachia by featuring short-format docu mentaries about the region or made by people who live in the area. For more info, go to

In Abingdon, Virginia, the BARTER THEATRE has announced 12 shows for calendar year 2023 with tickets on sale beginning January 17. “The State Theatre of Virginia” opens the season with The Last Romance by Joe DiPietro. On an ordinary day in a routine life, 80 year-old widower Ralph decides to take a different path on his daily walk, and discovers the beautifulyet-distant Carol on a bench at a dog park. Relying on his boyish charm and a fictional dog named Rex, Ralph begins to woo Carol, thus embarking on a hilarious and heartwarming journey that proves it’s never too late for romance.

“Something wicked this way comes…” when Barter’s resident company tackles Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Returning home from battle, the victorious Macbeth meets three witches on the heath. Driven by their disturbing prophecies, he sets out on an ambitious path to take the crown—a plan that leads to murder and madness.

That drama will be followed by an origi nal musical tale of “America’s First Family of Country Music,” the Carters. Written by Doug Pote, Keep On the Sunnyside follows A.P. Carter as he convinces his wife, Sara, and his sister-in-law, Maybelle, to record with him at the Bristol Sessions. A. P. has no idea he is about to change his life—and the world—forever. Barter promises that audience members will tap their toes to Carter Family favorites like “Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow,” “Keep On the

38 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE
JASON CARTER Appalachian Theatre of the High Country CHATHAM RABBITS ATHC MACBETH Barter Theatre

Sunnyside,” “Wildwood Flower,” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” For more informa tion or to purchase tickets, visit Barter’s website at

BEANSTALK COMMUNITY THEATRE continues to celebrate their 10th anni versary season with Dearly Departed, a comedy by David Bottrell and Jessie Jones. It is a Southern-fried comedy of caskets and country craziness that puts the “fun” in funeral. In the Baptist backwoods of the Bible Belt, the beleaguered Turpin family proves that living and dying in the South are seldom tidy and always hilarious. Per formances take place at the App Theatre from March 30 through April 1. For info, visit and for tick ets, go to

At press time, the newly-elected board of BLUE RIDGE COMMUNITY THEATRE was in the process of approving their 2023 season; check out their website for their pending announcement at blueridgecom

The same applies at the BENTON HALL COMMUNITY ARTS CENTER in North Wil kesboro, home to the Wilkes Playmakers; their calendar year season is pending, but updates will be posted on their website at

No fewer than eight offerings are on the winter season schedule at the CITY OF MORGANTON MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM (CoMMA). On January 26, Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is a musical stage adaptation of A. A. Milne’s iconic characters using lifesized puppetry in a new story from the Hundred Acre Wood. The percussion group

STOMP will shake the rafters on January 30 with an eight-member troupe using everything but conventional percussion instruments—matchboxes, wooden poles, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters, hub caps—to fill the stage with magnificent rhythms. On February 9, the ZuZu African Acrobats from Tanzania celebrate the 2,000-year-old Bantu culture of East Africa by performing ancient traditions passed on by elders, with acrobatics, drumming, sing ing, dancing, and gravity-defying stunts while displaying the grace, beauty and strength of the African culture.

Award-winning storyteller and come dian Kelly Swanson stars in “Who Hijacked My Fairytale?” on February 23. This “twist ed journey to a happier ever after” covers everything from muffin tops to age spots to “the girls” gone wild as Swanson laughs about being a woman in today’s world. But underneath the humor is a lot of heart and a powerful message about embracing what makes you unique. March 10 brings Fairytales on Ice to CoMMA, featuring Beauty and The Beast and friends as they skate through adventures, magic and cel ebration… all on ice. That event is followed on March 25 by the Hiplet Ballerinas from Chicago, a company that fuses classical pointe technique with African, Latin, HipHop and urban dance styles rooted in com munities of color. Promoting inclusivity in both their cast and audience, the Hiplets feature true-toned tights, modern music, and dancers of all shapes, sizes and colors.

Yesterday & Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience on March 31 features a cover band that leaves the song choices completely in the hands of the audience through request cards filled out prior to the show on which they state the reason

why they chose that song. Those reasons make up the narrative of the evening, proving “that The Beatles music truly is the soundtrack to our lives.”

Tony Award-winning choreographer Sergio Trujillo’s outstanding dances—and the music, of course—are the most memo rable aspects from the Broadway produc tion of the jukebox musical On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan. The show is billed as “the inspiring true story about heart, heritage and two people who believed in their talent—and each other—to become an international sensation.” There is one performance only, on April 3. Addi tional information and tickets are available at or by phone at 800-939-SHOW (7469).

For those of you picking up a copy of this magazine “hot off the press” in Decem ber, please go to our website for a listing of holiday events and other seasonal performances, several of which were teased in our last issue. These include A Banner Elk Christmas 4 at Ensemble Stage; A Carolina Snowbelle Christmas in Boone; The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at Blue Ridge Com munity Theatre; Elf, the Musical by the Wil kes Playmakers; Nochebuena at CoMMA in Morganton; the Barter Theatre’s productions of Over The River and Through The Woods and It’s A Wonderful Life in Abingdon, VA; Frosty the Snowman and Christmas With Elvis at the Appalachian Theatre, as well as numerous classic holiday films including A Christmas Story, A Muppet Christmas Carol, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Scrooged, The Polar Express, The Star, and White Christmas at the historic 1938 venue in downtown Boone. For details, go to

40 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE 619-964-0038 | | | 100 High Country Square Unit 90 Banner Elk, NC 28604 on Tynecastle Hwy downtown boone, nc local night @ the app AN EVENING WITH JOHN MCEUEN JASON CARTER three redneck tenors local night @ the app CHATHAM RABBITS brooks forsyth DERVISH LIAM PURCELL & CANE MILL ROAD APPTHEATRE ORG dEC. 20 JAN 12 JAN. 15 JAN 27 feb. 4 feb 9 feb. 24 mar 9 mar 11 mar 24 CHRISTMAS WITH ELVIS: mATT LEWIS & lONG lIVE THE KING ORCHestra Events, days, dates and performers are subject to change without notice. Our mission is to ensure that every child in our community has a safe, warm place to lay their head. H U N G E R A N D H E A L T H C O A L I T I O N KELL E S KRIB How to donate: Send checks to: Kelle's Krib Watauga County Heatlh and Hunger Coalition 141 Health Center Drive Boone NC, 28607 or Visit our website: ""Be the change you wish to see in the world" We work closely with:

Colleges and Universities Offer a Wealth of Performance Opportunities Diverse Line-Up

of 30 Events

Scheduled from January through Mid-April

During the winter months here in the High Country, performing arts enthusi asts always count on the exceptional cul tural programs that are produced and presented at our institutions of higher learning: Appalachian State University, Lees-McRae College, and Wilkes Community College. Their academic year calendar nicely complements sea sonal offerings by our vital community and professional companies, with thirty (count ‘em!) on-campus events that wel come community audiences and visitors with plays, musicals, dance, and innovative programming that enriches the quality of life in our region. Here is a brief overview of what to expect in the upcoming months.

New works and regional premieres highlight the upcoming semester in the Department of Theatre and Dance (T&D) at Appalachian State University with a variety of playwrights from Asia to America to Great Britain. Original choreography by both stu dent and faculty members, along with a doz en first-time directors making their theatrical debuts promise a variety of experiences for audience members. T&D is proudly housed within the College of Fine and Applied Arts at Appalachian, one of seven departments in the college. The box office numbers are 828262-4046 or 800-841-2787 and their website may be found at www.theatreanddance.

A Fable for Now by Wei Yu-Chia

Translated by Jeremy Tiang

Directed by Kin-Yan Szeto March 1 – 5 in the Valborg Theatre n Winner of Taiwanese Literature Award, A Fable for Now tells the tales of war, love and regret as mankind hurtles towards a surreal apocalypse in the company of a combative duck, an intelligent polar bear, a charming panda, and a sleuth of bears, not to mention a fun-loving geneticallyengineered chicken. Produced by special arrangement with Laertes Books.

The Hundred Dresses by Ralph Covert and G. Riley Mills Appalachian Young People’s Theatre (AYPT)

Directed by Gordon Hensley April 14 – 16 in the Greer Studio Theatre n Based on the beloved Newbery Honor Book by Eleanor Estes, this acclaimed musical adaptation masterfully handles such topics as bullying, friendship and forgiveness. Packed with humor and filled with colorful characters and memorable songs, The Hundred Dresses is a timeless tale that explores the bonds of friendship, the willingness to be yourself and the courage that it takes to stand up to oth ers—even when you’re standing alone. Produced by special arrangement with the Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, Illinois.

As You Like It by William Shakespeare

Directed by Derek Gagnier April 26 – 30 in the Valborg Theatre n Shakespeare’s 1599 comedy As You Like It follows its heroine Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle’s court, and seeks to reunite with her exiled father. She is accom panied on her journey by her loving cousin, Celia, and their flamboyant jester, Touchstone. The trio disguise themselves and find safety and eventually, love, in the Forest of Arden. During the course of their stay, all three grow in understanding of human nature as they look through the lenses of their disguises and empathize with the rustic people of the forest. The play features a variety of memorable char acters including shepherds, wrestlers and, most notably, the melancholy traveler Jaques, who speaks many of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches (such as “All the world’s a stage…” and “too much of a good thing…”).

Spring Appalachian Dance Ensemble

(SADE) 2023

Coordinated by Susan Lutz

March 29 – April 2 in the Valborg Theatre

n This popular concert features Appalachian faculty and students showcasing their talents in choreography and performance. Dance Studies faculty members creating original works for the program include Marianne Adams, Regina Gulick, and Lutz herself. In addition, four stu dent choreographers will be chosen to stage new works for SADE for a total of seven original dance pieces for your enjoyment.

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 41
Continued on next page CULTURAL CALENDAR


Spring Short Play Festival

Coordinated by Dr. Paulette Marty

May 6 – 7 in the Greer Studio Theatre.

As part of a Stage Directing Techniques course, a dozen junior and senior class stu dents stage two evenings of short plays. These works are funny, eccentric, thoughtprovoking, and moving—it’s a grab bag of stories each night designed to showcase the talents of students in the Department of Theatre and Dance.

The Performing Arts Department at Lees-McRae College, housed in the School of Arts, Humanities, and Education, has smartly-scheduled a show created by two of the most respected theatre artists in America: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, known together as Pasek and Paul. This American songwriting duo and composing team works in musical theater, films and television, and their collective works include “A Christmas Story,” “Dogfight,” and “Dear Evan Hansen.” Their original songs have been featured on NBC’s “Smash” and in the films “La La Land,” for which they won both the Golden Globe and Academy Award, and “The Greatest Showman.” Performances are given in the Broyhill Theatre of Hayes Auditorium on their idyllic campus in Banner Elk, NC. The box of fice phone number is 828-898-8709 and their website is


Words and music by

Pasek and Justin Paul Book by Timothy Allen McDonald

Directed by Dr. Michael Hannah

February 23 - 26 in the Broyhill Theatre n When James is sent by his conniving aunts to chop down their old fruit tree, he discovers a magic potion that results in a tremendous peach...and launches a journey of enormous proportions. Suddenly, James finds himself in the center of the gigantic peach, among human-sized insects with equally oversized personalities, but after it falls from the tree and rolls into the ocean, the group faces hunger, sharks and plenty of disagreements. Thanks to James’ quick wit and creative thinking, the residents learn to live and work together as a family. The dangerous voyage is a success, but the adventure takes a whole new twist once they land on the Empire State Building.

The Schaefer Center Presents is a perform ing arts series presented by Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs (OACP). It offers students, faculty, staff and the community a diverse array of music, theatre and dance designed to enrich the cultural landscape of the campus and surrounding area. This season features a veri table “Who’s Who” of artists, a lineup of both rising stars and living legends who will en tertain audiences at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts. The box office numbers are 828-262-4046 or 800-841-2787 with ad ditional information available online at www.

Saturday, February 25 in the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts

n Hailed by NPR as “one of America’s defining voices of freedom and peace,” Mavis Staples, the queen of R&B and gospel, is the kind of once-in-a-generation artist whose impact on music and culture would be difficult to over state. She brings her powerful message and equally powerful voice to the Schaefer Center for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“Her voice has only gained texture and power over the years.” — Pitchfork “[She] provides the comfort of a higher power.” — People

LA Theatre Works

Lucy Loves Desi: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom

Wednesday, March 8 in the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts n Playwright Gregg Oppenheimer—son of “I Love Lucy” show creator Jess Oppenheimer— spins this witty tale of Lucy and Desi’s battles with CBS, from who would play Lucy’s husband to whether Lucy could really be seen pregnant on TV. With their daughter, Lucie Arnaz, serving as advisor, this hilarious, behind-the-scenes, true story of TV’s iconic sitcom brings as much heart and humor to the stage as an episode of “I Love Lucy” itself.

KODO (Tsuzumi)

Thursday, March 23 in the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts n KODO is a group of Japanese artists, musicians and performers dedicated to the

42 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE
James and the Giant Peach, on the book by Roald Dahl Benj Mavis Staples KODO TSUZUMI Schaefer Center Presents MAVIS STAPLES Schaefer Center Presents Photo by Myriam Santo

re-creation of traditional Japanese perform ing arts. The group, whose name can be translated as “heartbeat,” uses many musical instruments in performances, focusing pri marily on taiko, traditional Japanese drums. To commemorate KODO’s 40th anniversary in 2021, they created two touring productions based on their name, whose characters mean “drum” and “child.” This tour, Tzuzumi, takes its name from the drum character and traces the group’s origins back to the beginning, reflect ing on the history and reaffirming what has shaped KODO.

Bela Fleck, Zakir Hussain, Edgar Meyer with Rakesh Chaurasia

Saturday, April 22 in the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts n There’s a bit of the sorcerer in Béla Fleck (banjo), Zakir Hussain (tabla), Edgar Meyer (double bass), and their special guest Rakesh Chaurasia (bansuri – Indian flute). Most musi cians hope at most for proficiency in their chosen form, but these gentlemen move from bluegrass to Western classical to Indian classical to jazz, transmuting genres into something uniquely their own as though they’d gotten hold of the alchemist’s tools that legendarily changed lead into gold. In any case, it’s music that transcends de scription—ineffable, indefinable, and very beautiful.

The Schaefer Center also presents the APPlause! K-12 Series at Appalachian State University, offering affordable music, dance, film, and theatre events to students and their teachers from K-12 classrooms across the

region. Students experience everything from high-energy acrobatics and Appalachian music to international dance and literary clas sics brought to life through theatrical pro ductions. In recent seasons, more than 8,000 students across our region have attended APPlause Series events. For a complete list ing of the school performances this season, visit their website at applause

The John A. Walker Community Center on the campus of Wilkes Community College (WCC) in Wilkesboro “is proud to be the premier venue for cultural experiences in Wilkes County and surrounding areas.” It was created to address WCC’s mission components of culture, business, industry, and training. Dedicated in 1984, the 33,000 square-foot building features an 1,100 seat auditorium and was renovated in 2000 to expand the ballroom, provide additional restrooms, and create a full production kitchen. Programmatically, WCC is best known for hosting MerleFest, but the Walker Center presents a full season of shows for both its community and local schools. The box office number is 336-838-6260 with ad ditional information available online at www.

Karen Mill, Comedian Thursday, February 23 in the Walker Center n Karen’s comedy special “Pink Pants” has been viewed over 21 million times. She has appeared on Season 12 of America’s Got

Malpass Brothers, Appalachian Road Show, and Teea Goans

Friday, March 10 in the Walker Center n If you like cornbread & hush puppies, you’re gonna love the Malpass Brothers. With sincerity, honesty and an utter ease on stage that belies their years, their smooth vocal blend and skillful musicianship layer infec tiously into the deep respect they pay to leg ends who have paved the way. Appalachian Road Show is a visionary acoustic ensemble, bringing new-generation interpretations of traditional Americana, bluegrass and folk songs, as well as offering innovative original music, all presented with a common thread tied directly to the heart of the Appalachian regions of the U.S. Teea Goans is a Nashvillebased country music singer who has ap peared several times at the Grand Ole Opry. She brings energy and exuberance to her original songs through her creativity, percep tions, and observations.

Talent and has had numerous appearances on The Grand Ole Opry. Karen’s smart, funny, and keen observations will keep you laughing as you relate to her experiences.
“On-campus events welcome community audiences and visitors with plays, musicals, dance, and innovative programming that enriches the quality of life in our region.”

Conversations with Wood

instruments that are identified specifically with the region. And though there are mu sic stores and internet vendors linking to day’s musicians of the Carolina Mountains to the same inventory of modern manufac tured instruments as the rest of the world, the art of instrument building continues to thrive.

Chris Capozzoli and David Finck are two of our region’s luthiers, build ing beautiful and painstakingly detailed instruments and helping define the next generation of industrious mountain crafts men. Their instruments are works of art and of museum-showcase quality, but they are built with players in mind—made for musicians’ hands, not to be silently hung on walls.

needed to upgrade their instruments—an expensive undertaking—David decided to try honing his skills and making them himself. He built his older daughter, Le dah, a violin in 2012, and he was thrilled with the results. Ledah loved the instru ment, and David knew he had to build another for his younger daughter, Willa. After finishing Willa’s violin in the win ter of 2013, David saw a clear path ahead. He loved the challenges and rewards of crafting such fine instruments, and he has hardly looked back since. Aside from an occasional commissioned guitar or other woodworking project, David has focused on building violins, violas, and cellos over the past decade, and he recently finished his 34th violin-family instrument.

The Carolina Mountain Life region flourishes with music makers and instrument builders. Mountaineers, wellknown for their self-reliance, are industri ous and determined. When a need arises, people in southern Appalachia figure out how to make it happen using the resources available to them. When people in the mountains need entertainment, they tell stories, make toys, sing songs, and learn to play instruments. And when an instru ment itself is needed, often times they are handmade with the materials and tools available.

Over generations, this industrious na ture has led to the mountain-style fret less banjo and Appalachian dulcimer,

“I get such a thrill out of making the connection with the player, seeing that spark when they select the instrument,” David Finck tells me.

David grew up surrounded by both music and sawdust. His mother played cello, and the sounds of classical music erupted from the family stereo. His father spent free time in his wood shop, and tried his hand at making instruments. In fact, David’s father built a guitar and had plans to eventually make a violin.

The inspiration of his father’s hobby helped lead David into a career building furniture and eventually making an instru ment of his own. When his two daughters began to take violin playing seriously and

“Things are starting to crystalize and mature with the instruments,” David says. “It is a real calling and brings together my love of the music, the instruments, and the musicians.” Today, David’s instruments are being used by professionals all over the country and have given him the opportu nity to marry his passion for fine wood working with the classical music that first spoke to him as a child. He has been able to carry his father’s aspirations forward, as he literally carves a name for himself in the long-standing tradition of violin mak ing—a tradition that has gone relatively unchanged since the Italian families of the 16th century.

“It is the human spirit at its best,” David

44 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE

exclaims. “It is amazing to do something every day and be a part of the tradition.”

David also says that he couldn’t imag ine doing this work in another location. “It all comes from the trees,” he says. “This craft is an indoor activity in small intense spaces at such a small scale—to be able to get out in the woods and nature and fresh air brings me back to the source: the trees. This is where it all begins and keeps me working.”

While David carries on a centuries-old tradition with only minute changes from the violin builders of the past, luthier Chris Capozzoli prefers to craft unique electric guitars in styles and designs all his own.

“I see so many successful guitar builders making Fender and Gibson copies,” Chris says. “I have too much design interest and ideas of my own to explore.”

Like David, Chris started making his living as a woodworker making cus tom furniture, cabinetry, and filling in on construction jobs. But, also like David, Chris had a passion for music and creat ing. Growing up, he frequented a friend’s shop, watching him build instruments and scouring guitar magazines, paying close at tention to the images.

Chris first built a guitar influenced by a Rickenbacker that caught his attention and continued working on honing his craft in his spare time. Eventually, his apartment was filling up with machines, tools, and materials; Chris decided to take a leap of

faith and get his own shop. Starting with orders from friends, Chris began building both acoustic and electric guitars, and bass guitars, copying some styles he admired, while continuing to incorporate more of his own design ideas.

Encouraged by the mountains, the hills, the houses and barns, Chris started utiliz ing reclaimed pieces of wood from old structures and crafting unique instruments that looked like nothing that came before. “My personal inspiration derives from the environment I’m submerged in, from the materials I choose to the designs I create,” Chris says. “Much of the materials I prefer come from old barns off the local North Carolina landscapes; wood endured by the rain, snow, and sunshine on the side of these hundred-year-old structures tell sto ries of how difficult it’s been to hold itself up for so many years.”

Chris’s designs and imagination seem to have no boundaries. He has built elegant bass guitars with abstract curves and lines, amplifiers that looks like vintage radios, and a fiddle made with an alligator skull. Looking through Chris’s portfolio of in struments, you will find colors and shapes like no other. In addition to building and crafting the instruments, Chris is prepar ing to start building his own pickups, the devices that convert the vibrations of guitar strings into electrical signals. His unique approaches and designs are paying off.

Chris spent years building instruments

on faith and seeking out players beyond his circle of fellow musicians in hopes they might be inspired to try them out and pur chase one. Today, Chris’s calendar is filled with commissioned work, and his waitlist for interested buyers continues to grow. With more than a half dozen orders cued up, Chris’s business is turning an impor tant corner. “It has allowed me to focus on my own designs and continue to work on the types of guitars I admire most,” he says.

Chris Capozzoli continues to push the boundaries of guitar building with mod ern and unique designs, and David Finck continues to fine-tune the long-standing traditions of violin building. While the dichotomy of modern forms and older tra ditions might set these two luthiers apart, they share a number of commonalities. Both are musicians who cherish the con nections other players make with the in struments they build, both draw inspira tion from the Carolina Mountains, and neither could imagine practicing their craft anywhere else.

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 45
Mark Freed is Director of Cultural Resources for the Town of Boone, NC.
“Their instruments are works of art and of museumshowcase quality, but they are built with players in mind...”
David Finck
44 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE 920 Shawneehaw Avenue Banner Elk, NC 28604 H ardinJewelry @ 828-898-4653 GABRIEL OFIESH 10-6 MON-THURS; 10-7 FRI-SAT; 11-5 SUNDAY • 661 WEST KING ST • DOWNTOWN BOONE • 828-264-8801

Boone Artist Draws Inspiration Off the Grid and Around the World

Drawing inspiration from the world that surrounds her, Rachael Van Dyke is a mid-career artist creating ab stract work inspired by living off the grid in the Blue Ridge Mountains and traveling to artist residencies across the world.

Growing up in a large Italian fam ily where emotions and energy were high, Van Dyke learned at a young age to cre ate quickly, to work collaboratively, and to not become too attached to her work. Her parents encouraged their seven children to be active outdoors and creative indoors, requiring them at the end of each day to clean up and put away everything they worked on. Van Dyke recalls, “Knowing that my artwork and exploratory creations would be gone by bedtime, I was very quick to design, problem-solve, and build everything I dreamed of making for that day. I learned to say goodbye to my pas sionate work and looked forward to creat ing something new and fresh the next day.”

This childhood dynamic produced a need in her to always be actively exploring and expressing new ideas and materials as an

artist. Much of these early experiences set the stage for her ability to take her studio on the road and off the grid.

Van Dyke and her husband spend their summers in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Van Dyke has a summer studio and gallery representation. During the school year they travel to the Blue Ridge Moun tains of North Carolina, where he teaches as an Assistant Professor of Industrial De sign at Appalachian State University and Van Dyke paints full-time as a studio art ist. Together, they live off the grid with stu dents from App State in a tiny home com munity designed and built by her husband and his students.

Van Dyke’s North Carolina studio is located in downtown Boone, where her work can be viewed at the Common Good Co. in Blowing Rock and Molly Northern Interiors in Boone. Just a short drive away Van Dyke has additional gallery represen tation in Greenville, SC, with Art & Light Gallery. Most of Van Dyke’s inspiration comes from her artist-in-residence experi ences in the U.S. and abroad. Always up

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 45 Continued on next page
Danish Houses, Orangeries and the North Sea, Denmark Rachael Van Dyke in her studio

for an adventure, there are times Van Dyke backpacks or bikepacks to her residency right after a red-eye flight overseas. An avid traveler, she has traveled to BROTA Residencia de Artista (Argentina), Roskil de Artist in Residence (Denmark), Virgin ia Center for the Creative Arts (Virginia), Studio Faire (France), Golden Apple Art Residency (Maine), Keeneland Horse Raceway (Kentucky), and Isle Royale with the National Parks Artist-in-Residence Program (Michigan), to name a few. Much like when she was a child, she explores the outdoors, drawing inspiration from her surroundings. She incorporates her ideas onto her canvas quickly and then moves on to absorb the next thing that catches her attention.

For an upcoming solo exhibition at Art & Light Gallery, Van Dyke is drawing in spiration from her recent artist residency in Denmark. The working title of her ex hibition is “Orangery.” Bicycling through Denmark Van Dyke notes, “Small glass orangeries appeared on the side lawns and

backyards of almost every home we saw in Denmark—often very small, each an enclosed, private shelter—once used as winter greenhouses and garden tool sheds. Now, most were arranged and decorated for an intimate indoor/outdoor dining ex perience or warm, quiet morning reading space or a special, cozy place for tea with a friend. All allowed you to experience the beauty and sights of the outdoors even during the coldest and windiest of days.”

With regards to the intent behind the paintings, Van Dyke comments: “I am leaning into still life works that may reflect personal moments of stillness, quiet reflec tion, slow growth, and intimate interaction between two people or a small group of people. Maybe this is in response to CO VID-19 and the return of interaction with others. I feel many people, like myself, are finding it difficult to move into ‘beyond family’ relationships again. Maybe this is a good thing? Maybe over the course of a decade or two we have, as a society, pulled away from our family roots and origins too

easily because of transportation and socalled progress. When I travel to European countries, I still see the core family group living in the same town together, even within the same home together.”

Van Dyke is inspired by moving, going, and experiencing new places. She is excit ed to share her new collection. The exhibit can be viewed and purchases made starting January 31 at exhibitions. If your winter travel plans take you to the Upstate of South Carolina, join Van Dyke as Art & Light Gallery hosts an artist reception on February 3 to cel ebrate this new collection. And be sure to view her local work in Boone and Blowing Rock.

Learn more about Rachael Van Dyke and her art at Learn more about the Van Dykes’ Off-Grid Tiny House Community on YouTube:“Living Off-Grid in a Tiny House Community Built by Self-Reliant Couple.”

48 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE
Rachael Van Dyke in her studio Mandarin Tree in Blue Pot
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Struck at the Crossroads in Boonville

Allen Paul Speer, III, Author The Overmountain Press, Publisher


“What! A spider? Not good!”

“No, Babe. A box. Check this out.”

A shoe box. Slate-colored, dusty.

“It’s covered with spider stuff.”

“It was under the National Geographics.”

He raises the lid. “Look,” he says. “Letters.”

Bundles of paper, old paper, like ivory speckled with tobacco.

Tied with red cords.

“Look at the handwriting.”

“Look at the names, Babe.”

“Is that your grandfather?”

“No. His father. And his mother.” “Whoa…”

That’s how I imagine the conversation might have gone if I would have been the fortunate one to discover a box of old love letters belonging to my great-grandparents. How romantic! What would I do next? Some will say to leave them be, bound up by a sentimental bride. Their mystery preserved, they become the stuff of dreams.

But the trick about ancient letters is that they are two things at once. They’re relics.

They are also documents. And if you’re less a dreamer and more an historian, ancient documents will be read.

Your author, Allen Paul Speer, III, is a professional historian, and he was presented with precisely this scenario when his cousins found a trove of letters written by his great-grand parents, Aaron and Mattie. He did read the letters and now shares them with us in Struck at the Crossroads in Boonville

Speer calls his book an “historical romance,” which is to say it’s a mash-up, a hybrid of un like things. The historical part is prominent. We’re introduced to half the town, and everyone’s family relationships are mapped out. What’s more, Speer provides dozens of photographs, the portraits of many of these people and images from the streets of Boonville in Yadkin County, North Carolina.

The romance is more subtle. The letters between Aaron and Mattie do not reveal a Big Love. They were very young at the time. They write chiefly about school, and church, and who is sweet on whom. The romance has to do with a kind of time-travel. With the wealth of personal detail and images, Speer recreates the Boonville of the horse and buggy era and invites us to take a stroll along its streets and even to duck into some of the houses. The invitation is explicit. “This is an imaginary story,” he writes, “and you, dear reader, are a buggy man.” The tale unfolds from there, like a dream.

Speer notes that he has gathered and presented the historical materials in this book first of all for his own family, so they might know Aaron and Mattie, and second, for the descendants of the other townspeople mentioned in their letters, so that they might have a vision of how their people lived way back when. But what about the rest of us? What’s here for us?

Speer offers what is, I think, the best kind of history. So often, historical writing deals with Great Men and Great Battles. These stories can be entertaining, especially for young people, and, upon full consideration, the stories have about the same value and importance as a popcorn movie. Spending time with the good folk of Boonville, not Napoleon, seems more important. The town was rocked by contagious disease. Mattie’s brother, Shade, a Democrat, threatened Aaron, a Republican. Boonville’s economy relied on the manufacture of horse drawn carriages, and now there’s an industry that’s about to be disrupted. To mention only a few things in Speer’s account. This sort of history, of ordinary lives, is the sort that enriches our relationship with the world we live in.

Struck at the Crossroads of Boonville Receives Award of Excellence from the Society of Historians

The awards committee of the North Carolina Society of Historians announced in November that Allen Paul Speer’s new book, Struck at the Crossroads of Boonville, has qualified in four separate categories of competition: History, Religious History, Family History and Historical Fiction. The judges also mentioned that the courtship letters written by Aaron Speer and Mattie Thompson between 1894 and 1898 revealed much about the history, religion, education and geography of Boonville and Yadkin County, North Carolina.

“Struck” is part four of the Voices Quartet, books that have won a total of 12 awards, including prestigious national recognition from the American Association for State and Local History. All of Dr. Speer’s books can be purchased at the Boonville Public Community library with all proceeds from the sales going to support the library.

You can also contact the publisher at orders@


Oh sweet fruitcake, how I adore you

Lusciously soaked with cloves, with spice

Candied fruits, scent of nuts, ohhhhh soooo nice

I just don’t know what I would do

If my fruitcake passion ever grew

If during the year you would entice

Oh my goodness, that would be Vice!

Not just at Christmas but all year through I could indulge in brandied rum flavor

Green red fruit, apricots, sweet butter too Sit with coffee; completely savor

This cake, a brick of unique style

And for myself: a seductive favor

All this deliciousness, beguile

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 51
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A Flurry of Winter Activities

Winter is known as Grandfather’s “quieter” time of year, not simply due to the stillness and serenity of the natural environment, but because it offers an opportunity for guests to have the park to themselves before the crowds return once more in the spring and summer.

WINTER CLOTHING & SHOES Columbia • Merrell Wolverine • Wigwam • Camelbak Seirus • Sherpani • Turtle Fur Sorel • Life is Good Ski & Snowboard Rentals Information Available Online Fred’s Backside Deli Open 7:30am-3pm daily Celebrating 43 Years! Come visit us at Eastern America’s Highest Town Store Hours: 7:30am-10pm Daily 501 Beech Mountain Parkway Beech Mountain, NC ...notes from the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation
Linville Peak at Grandfather Mountain Wilson Center

Postcard Views + Winter Hiking

While visitors can most certainly take in the views of picturesque, snow-draped moun tains from November through March—even catching a glimpse of the Charlotte skyline on a clear day, some 80 miles away—there are periods of warmer weather that pop up intermittently between the windy and snowy days that allow guests to hike along sunny trails or brave the lofty heights of the Mile High Swinging Bridge. A mild winter day can make for some of the best hiking weather of the year!


The cooler weather also presents its own opportunities and plays a factor in bringing out the wildlife around Grandfather Moun tain, including species that are truly wild— and wild at heart. The resident animals in the park’s environmental wildlife habitats are invigorated by winter weather, and many, es pecially the resident river otters and Western cougars, can be seen frolicking in the snow— with the exception of the resident black bears, who den during the colder weather.

Meanwhile, deer, squirrels and other crit ters can often be seen roaming and foraging through the park, including birds that cannot be seen elsewhere in the Southeast during the winter months.

Red crossbills, pine siskins and other northern species of birds winter in high-

altitude forests of red spruce and Fraser firs, such as those found on Grandfather Moun tain. These species attract birding enthusiasts to the mountain from across the region to catch a glimpse of the birds before they head back to their northern ranges in Canada and elsewhere. For more information on winter birding, visit

Mildred’s Grill

Fortunately, one does not have to brave the cold to witness the wildlife, as birds, squir rels and other animals that gather by the birdfeeders can be seen from the comfort of the inside of Mildred’s Grill, where guests can warm up with a hot lunch or beverage. Enjoy the Mile High Burger, homemade soups, sal ads and sandwiches. Don’t forget the fudge! Gift shops are also conveniently located next to Mildred’s Grill, as well as by the Mile High Swinging Bridge.


From presents for those back home to special souvenirs for yourself, find plenty of unique items and collectibles in the gift shops inside the Wilson Center and Top Shop. Both shops carry a variety of artisan crafts and goods, as well as signature Grandfather Moun tain souvenirs, from apparel to hiking gear to drinkware and all things in between. For that someone with everything, animal adoptions

or certificates for behind-the-scenes tours make for unique gifts. Learn more at www.

Wilson Center for Nature Discovery

There is plenty to explore inside at Grand father Mountain! The Wilson Center for Nature Discovery is located about halfway up the mountain, adjacent to the Wildlife Habitats. The center recently opened in June 2022. Check out a dozen new state-of-the-art inter active exhibits to learn about the natural his tory, flora, fauna, geology and weather of the mountain. Watch a new film, “A Mountain of Inspiration,” in the new ADA-accessible Hodg es Theater.

Grandfather Mountain is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter months, with the last entry at 3:30 p.m. Trails close at 4 p.m. For updates on park closures, and tips for winter visits, visit

The nonprofit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call 800-4687325, or visit to book a trip.

• Photos courtesy of the GMSF.

MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 55
Mile High Swinging Bridge Gift Store New Lights in Mildred’s Grill Grandfather Mountain Snow Otter


Blue Ridge Explorers

Where the Wild Things Are This Winter

When the days get shorter and the temper atures drop, we humans have to adapt. Some locals travel to warmer places to escape the cold weather. Others stay put and spend time “nesting” indoors, while the hardiest of us thrive by staying active outdoors, often in the snow. Wherever the typical winter day finds each of us, we all need to make adjustments to stay safe and comfortable.


Animals must also make lifestyle and physiological changes to acclimate to winter temperatures and snowy conditions. While we occasionally encounter wild animals who are visibly or audibly active during the harsh High Country winter, many seem to vanish.

Where are they? Let’s investigate…


A variety of animals head to warmer climes as the mercury drops in the High Country, in cluding many species of birds who reside here during the warmer months. While some fly great distances, others simply relocate to lower elevations. Most of the birds who leave town do so gradually, without much fanfare. Rubythroated Hummingbirds slowly disappear from our nectar feeders and fading flower gardens— most have left by mid-September. A variety of warbler species, which we hear but rarely see, stealthily flock to wintering grounds in Central and South America beginning in August.

Other migrations are very observable, and a sight to behold. During the month of Sep tember, the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation hosts a vast citizen-science project to count and identify the numerous species of raptors (hawks, eagles, falcons, and other birds of prey) as they make their annual journey to warmer climates. Every year, the public is in vited to join the mountain’s naturalists as they tally the number of migrating passersby. Dur ing the 2022 migration, a total of 3,064 migrat ing raptors were recorded, with broad-winged hawks being the most-counted species.

Fortunately for High Country bird lovers, we have an assortment of permanent residents who stay put all winter, including the Caro lina Chickadee, Dark–eyed Junco, Red-breasted

Nuthatch, Tufted Titmouse, Northern Cardinal, and certain species of Woodpeckers, birds of prey, and waterfowl. These birds are able to find adequate supplies of food in the moun tains year-round, but will eat extra in late sum mer and early fall to build up body fat. In addi tion, they adapt by shivering, and by trapping pockets of air around their bodies under their feathers, which they also use for waterproofing. Many birds will crowd together in shrubs, vines, evergreen trees, tree cavities and nest boxes to share body heat and stay warm. Adding safe habitat and a bird feeding station to your yard during the winter provides protection and nourishment to our hardy feathered friends and hours of enjoyment to us humans.


Some of our common native mammals stay as active in the winter as in the summer. In or near forested areas, you’re likely to spot the fol lowing fur-covered wildlife (or their tracks in the snow): white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbits, coyotes, bobcats, and foxes. Many other mam mals are all about saving energy, so they slow down while food resources are scarce.

There are several states of “slowing down,” from persistent napping to deep hibernation Our common raccoons, Virginia opossums, and striped skunks seek shelter in the form of tree cavities, ground burrows, rock crevices, or aban doned structures. Raccoons and opossums nap alone, or with their young, while skunks may den in groups of a dozen or more. All three species enter a state of rest, or torpor, in which they lower their body temperatures (adaptive hypothermia) and metabolism, and slow their breathing. However, all must wake up regularly and forage for food to stay alive.

The American black bear takes napping to the next level. Prior to winter, black bears make their dens in rock caves, burrows, tree holes or other sheltered spots. Once the cold weather sets in and a bear settles into a den, its heart rate, breathing rate and metabolic rate slow down significantly. However, some scientists say that our black bears don’t quite qualify as “true hibernators” because their

body temperature is reduced by only 10 to 15 degrees. Plus, they can wake up rather quickly from a winter nap. Although bears may not be the deepest of sleepers, their bodies still “shut down” to save energy. Amazingly, while den ning, bears can go for more than 100 days with out eating, drinking, urinating or defecating. According to NC Wildlife Resource Commission biologists, whether or not you consider bears true hibernators, “Bears do enter a long period of physical inactivity and exhibit some amazing physiological responses to low food availability and temperatures.”

Which brings us to “true hibernators.” Hiber nation is defined as “a specialized reduction in metabolism brought about by low food avail ability and/or low temperatures.” Like the other mammals above, a true hibernator slows its heart rate, breathing rate and metabolic rate, and its body temperature is lowered. But these changes tend to be more extreme in true hiber nators, who are also the deepest sleepers.

Eastern chipmunks, like other ground squir rels in our area, are considered true hibernators. When they enter a deep sleep, their heart rate is reduced to a mere four beats per minute, while their body temperature is lowered from around 98 degrees F to that of their burrow. During hibernation, chipmunks wake up every several days, raise their body temps to normal and feed on food they have stored in their bur rows. Once they feed and pass waste, they go back into a serious slumber. Their cousin, the groundhog, shares a similar deep sleep and denning experience.

Some of our resident bat species, such as the long-eared bat and the Virginia big-eared bat, are also true hibernators. When bats hiber nate, they must find a place that stays above freezing so they generally gather in caves or mines for their hibernacula, or sleep shelter, and snooze hard through the winter. When possible, bats choose to return to the same site every year.

56 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE
Black-capped chickadee Virginia Big-eared Bat Cottontail rabbit White-tailed deer Striped Skunk U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Photo by David Mitchell USFWS Dan & Lin Dzurisin


Reptiles and amphibians (collectively known as herpetofauna, or “herps”) experience similar physiological processes as other animals come winter, but scientists use the term bruma tion rather than hibernation when referring to the herps. With brumation, the animals are not sound asleep, but in a phase of dormancy, de fined as “the state of having normal physical functions suspended or slowed down for a pe riod of time.” Most reptiles and amphibians first seek out a winter home that is protected. Many burrow underground, including certain snakes, turtles, frogs and salamanders, and some of these winter dens hold large groups.

Garter snakes, for example, spend most of the year alone; however, in winter they gather near other garters and snuggle up. This helps them prevent heat loss and maintain body temperatures that are warm enough to survive dangerous conditions. Garter snakes often seek out burrows that were once inhabited by other animals, such as chipmunks. They may also find shelter under rock piles or in decaying tree stumps. Garter snakes typically brumate be tween October and March, but can sometimes be spotted outside of their hibernaculum soak ing up the sun.

Such is the case with our native Eastern box turtles. On warm winter days, you may see a brumating box turtle emerge from its burrow; while it might enjoy a brief burst of sunshine, the turtle may actually be out looking for an other sleeping hole. Some box turtles use small mammal burrows that have been vacated, while others dig into loose dirt or forest litter, burrowing as deep as one to two feet. With reduced metabolic activity, these turtles can survive on their stored fat. By April, most box turtles are awake and on the move—slowly but surely!

Aquatic turtles, including painted turtles and snapping turtles, generally cozy up in the mud at the bottom of a pond, as do their neigh boring aquatic amphibians—frogs, toads and some salamanders. Unlike brumating turtles, aquatic or semi-aquatic frogs like the pickerel

frog and the American bullfrog do not have the ability to radically slow their metabolism. They must be surrounded by oxygen-rich water and remain on the mud, or only partially bur ied. “Sleeping” under water means that these reptiles and amphibians must breathe oxygen through their skin instead of their lungs for most of the winter.

Aquatic salamanders are generally light sleepers, and may remain active, even under a layer of ice. Terrestrial salamanders, of which there are many species in the High Country, will seek shelter in underground burrows, or under logs and leaf litter to enter a deeper dormancy than their aquatic kin. Terrestrial frogs and toads normally hibernate on land, as well. American toads burrow deep into the soil, safely below the frost line. Spring peepers brumate in soft mud near ponds, under logs, and in holes or loose bark in trees. Some frogs have also been known to use rodent burrows as hibernacula.

What does “winter rest” mean for fish? Most fish, including our mountain trout, enter a stage of torpor, similar to the other animals we have investigated. While in their resting state, fishes’ hearts slow down, their needs for food and oxy gen decrease, and they move about very little. They can go long intervals without eating and prefer to school in deeper pools, where the warmer water has sunk beneath the colder lay ers above.


A lot of people don’t miss “bugs” in the winter. But invertebrates in the phylum Ar thropoda—which includes insects, as well as non-insects such as spiders, snails, mites, cen tipedes, and millipedes—are quite valuable to our ecosystem and deserve a lot of respect. From pollinating our plants, to enriching our soil, to protecting our gardens from harmful or invasive pests, to feeding other important spe cies of animals, these mighty miniatures earn their seasonal rest.

Like other animals, different species have different strategies for braving the winter. A few choose to fly away toward much warmer

environments—well known migrators include monarch butterflies and green darner dragon flies. Other insect species successfully pass the winter as immature larvae or nymphs, or in co coons and chrysalises.

Most, however, tend to go dormant, includ ing wasps, bees, centipedes, beetles, spiders, snails and a myriad of other arthropods. This state of dormancy for bugs is known as dia pause, and is defined as “the inactive state of arrested development.” Before going dormant, insects/arthropods will take shelter in a variety of micro-habitats—beneath the soil, where ground temps tend to be more stable, is the choice for many, including bumblebees, ants, some beetles, centipedes and millipedes. Oth ers seek refuge inside dead logs and hollow trees, and under rocks.


If so, it’s time to think differently about all the incredible animals who share our mountain home. The next time you awake from a cozy slumber, lace up your boots, and head out for a brisk winter hike in the woods, take a moment to marvel at the biodiversity that is under your feet and all around you. Be “wowed” by the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of wild things within earshot, even though you can’t hear or see them. They are there. And when the time comes, all creatures great and small—from the biggest bear to the tiniest spider—will rise up and welcome the warmth of spring.


NC Wildlife Resources Commission, The NC Arboretum Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, High Country Audubon The Cornell Lab, All About Birds, MSU Extension

Tamara S. Randolph, CML’s editor, is a N.C. Environmental Educator and certified Blue Ridge Naturalist. You can reach Tamara at Red-spotted newt Garter snake Snail Pickerel frog Eastern box turtle Dragonfly Monarch butterfly


the Day after Christmas:

The End of Christmas Tree Season is Just the Beginning

It’s mid-December and the last gooseneck trailerful of six to eight-foot Fraser firs that were loaded before dawn has just left the farm, bound for a retail Christmas tree lot—120 miles away—that’s down to its last seven trees. David was expecting it. It’s late in the season, but the whole sale customer who just drove away in the Dodge dually hauling the trees runs one of the only tree lots in Greensboro that stays open until Christmas Eve. “You’d be surprised how many folks put their tree up that late,” David says as he grabs the rosin-caked Stihl from the bed of his truck and ambles into the middle of his field, all but empty of the sea of dark green that covered the hillside for the last ten years. He lifts the bottom branches of the lone triple-flagged tree in the field—the one his daughters picked out in August—to find a good place to start the cut, and in a few short seconds, the tree is being dragged to the truck over the slick, frozen orchard grass. His season is over. For now.

“Gotta get the amigos back.”

The eight temporary guestworkers who were brought to these mountains the first day of November from the sweet-potato fields in eastern Carolina wait in the van. Bulging luggage is stuffed into the rear compartment and they’re off to wait at the Wal-Mart for the tour bus contracted to take them and crews from other Christmas

tree farms back to their hometowns in Mexico, from Vera Cruz to Michoacán. This scene repeats itself in box store park ing lots across the mountain counties in early December as tree harvest ends.

The first round of workers typically show up in March. Guestworkers with H2A visas, mostly from rural Mexico, many of whom have worked on the same farm for twenty years, provide the hand skills to the industry that the local labor force simply can’t muster. “We couldn’t grow trees if we didn’t have ‘em,” says Da vid…and Tracy and Carroll and Harry, and any other Christmas tree grower you ask. In order to get the roughly four million trees cut, dragged, baled, palleted, loaded, and hauled to the garden centers, Food Lions, Winn-Dixies, parking-lot retailers, and church fundraisers, the saws began humming before Halloween.

“Can we borrow the soil probe?”

Well before the last snows of winter, tree growers begin the prep work for the coming season. If the ground isn’t frozen, they’ll zig-zag between young trees, un lodging plugs of earth from coring tubes into a plastic bucket. Soil samples are boxed up and sent to the N.C. Department of Agriculture (NCDA) Agronomic lab in Raleigh to determine how much lime, or which blend of fertilizers, needs to be added to ensure proper growth and color. Sturdy branches, dark green needles, and strong roots—that’s what they’re shootin’

for. That, and the aroma of Christmas, is what the tree industry in western North Carolina is built around—producing the “Cadillac of Christmas Trees.”

Clear-cut fields are replanted with transplants, some of which come all the way from Oregon. In the 1950s, when growers didn’t have the luxury of directshipped transplants packed in convenient Styrofoam trays, the entrepreneurs who started the local industry took a winding gravel road to the top of Roan Mountain to pull transplants from the carpet of seed lings beneath native stands of Fraser fir to plant into cleared hillsides.

When the burlap sacks full of young trees arrive to his farm the first week in March, David sits on the cold steel seat of the transplanter, crisscrossing the rows from last year’s harvest to replant the field between the stumps. As the blade below his seat rips into the ground, David drops in a transplant, measuring in his head the spacing between each one. He’s rarely off an inch. He’ll repeat this step 7,000 times over the course of the next two days.

The newly transplanted trees are a foot and a half tall and already four years old, and they’ll put on roughly a foot of growth each year. This is the long game of the tree industry. David won’t see a dime from these trees for seven years or more. But he’ll spend plenty. While Fraser fir likes the acidic soils of the mountain slopes, if the ground’s too “sour,” the other nutrients in the soil may not be as available to the plant, causing yellow or stunted needles.

58 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE
“Guess I can cut our own tree, now.”

Damn sure can’t have that. The spring crews will load up back-pack applicators of urea, triple super phosphate, or 18-46-0, spreading handfuls of pellets around each tree.

“Those were late gettin’ their haircut.”

By July, if the amendments to the soil have done their trick, the trees will be ready for their annual pruning. Each tree is groomed with a two-foot long shear ing knife, wielded by crews of men who circle every single tree, counterclockwise to avoid slicing open their knees, tipping each branch a few inches to even out the shape into a pyramid. Workers carry pruningclippers in their back pockets to remove the “horns” or extra tops that sometime spring from the crown of the tree. Only the strongest top with the best bud set is left to keep the tree growing upward. If the crows haven’t bent them over in the late spring when growth is tender, the tree will put on another foot or so of height.

The trees are also scouted for pests and disease. Some that don’t roll so easily off the tongue include phytophthora, balsam wooly adelgid, and elongate hemlock scale. While problem spots of insect pests can be controlled with a good soaking from the blast of a high-pressure sprayer, phytoph thora can’t. That one lives in the soil, and once it’s in a field, it takes the trees out by the root, turning the entire tree rusty red and dead in as little as one growing season.

Then there are the weeds. By late summer, if the field isn’t sprayed or mowed, it’s a jungle in there. Horseweed, poke, orchard grass, and Queen Anne’s lace can get so high you won’t see the fawn (or the yellowjacket nest) hiding in there unless you step on it.

By September, if David is caught up on shearing, he’ll begin yet another trip through the field, grading and tagging the ones to cut this year based on height and quality. He points to a block of trees that still have a year before receiving his bless ing: “Those over there were late gettin’ their haircut.” His best trees, the premiums, get their first Christmas ornament—a footlong swath of blue flagging tape.

“Try back in a couple years.”

On his cell, David nods through the howdy-dos with a garden center manager from Port St. Lucie, FL. “I’m already sold out for next year,” he says, finishing the call. After hanging up, he confesses that he’s ac tually sold out for the next three years by his estimations. While Christmas trees are planted and eventually sold on the scale of other commercial crops every year, the production cycles of Fraser fir are decadeslong endeavors. Growers have to navigate the dance steps of a macroeconomic tango that can last for decades.

In the early 2000s, millions of new transplants went into the ground. Too many. A trend of upward pricing from

the decade before spurred on a collective mass-planting in the mountains. Just as those trees came ‘online’ and ready for har vest, the bottom dropped out of the mar ket. The glut of trees ready to be cut and the housing market collapse at the end of 2008 began to fry the entire motherboard of the tree industry. By the 2010 season, it was extra crispy. Tree prices plummeted as tighter wallets from the recession further depressed demand. Some growers left the industry, never looking back. At the same time, the seedling growers in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Oregon had no market for the millions of their seedlings ready to ship out to farms. The days of speculative plant ing, from tree and seedling growers alike, ended. Fast forward to the present, and that ‘shortage’ of seedlings has turned the supply and demand cycle back on its head.

David’s phone rings again. He recog nizes the number. Another large retail lot looking for more trees. He doesn’t pick up. “Wish I had another 100,000 ready to go. They’ve been calling since last year.”

Dr. Jim Hamilton is the Watauga County Extension Director and author of The Last Entry, a coming of age novel set under the backdrop of the ginseng trade.

Photos courtesy of The North Carolina Christmas Tree Association.

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 59


Want to reduce your heating/ cooling costs by 10 to 20%, while increasing your home’s comfort?

Sealing air leaks is an inexpensive way to save energy, and anyone can do it!


• Detect air leaks around doors and windows. (Look for daylight around frames. Or, trace frames with incense and watch where the smoke is pulled.)

• Choose a silicone caulk that will form a waterand weather-resistant seal.

• Prep your surface by removing old caulk and paint. Make sure the area is dry.

• Prep the caulking gun and do a “test” run on a paper towel.

• Aim and pull the trigger. Hold the caulk gun at a 45-degree angle while pulling it toward you.

• After covering 2-3 feet of the surface, run a damp finger or foam paintbrush lightly along the bead to seal the caulk.

• Clean up mistakes before the caulk hardens.

Prep your home for winter by sealing air leaks now. Get more easy energy-saving tips at

58 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA

Warm up with a Winter Staycation in Spruce Pine

Winter here in the High Country does come with its fair share of challenges. From shorter days and cold temperatures to slick roads and chapped lips, winter can sometimes seem like a burden to endure, rather than a season to celebrate. Even with the holidays, it’s easy to get a case of the winter doldrums. Sometimes, it seems like the best solution to a gloomy winter weekend is to pack those bags and head off someplace warm and sunny, but there’s really no reason to run away to experience a magical and re freshing break during the chilly months. A winter “staycation” in our very own Spruce Pine, NC, promises fun and relax ation with delights new and old to revive the spirits and warm the heart.

There’s no need to look far afield for a marvelous stay in a charming setting that is both new and old. Spruce Pine’s Blue Ridge Boutique Hotel is the perfect staycation destination. The former Spruce Pine Elementary school, the building retains its historic charm while boast ing modern comfort from the renova tions and facelift that have transformed the 1921 building into an inviting loca tion for wintertime recreation. Each of the thirty-two unique rooms celebrates a local site with beautiful photography by Patti Grosh. Grandfather Mountain, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Penland School of Craft, and the Orchard at Altapass are just a few of the grand High Coun try locales showcased in the rooms of the

hotel. There are room sizes and layouts for every visitor, from the individual seeking a quiet respite with a spectacular view to the active family eager to head out on ad ventures in town and beyond. Cozy quilts in each room add to the winter appeal of the Blue Ridge Boutique Hotel, and there is hot coffee available all day. With WiFi, a library, and the new tiered patios and firepits, the hotel has so many amenities that guests can spend their staycation right there, but there are plenty of attrac tions in Spruce Pine as well.

Just across the footbridge in down town Spruce Pine are restaurants to suit a wide variety of tastes. Familiar favor ites like DT’s Blue Ridge Java and the Tropical Grill offer both treats and de licious meals to warm up a winter’s day, whether the heat comes from a big cup of hot cocoa or spicy jerk chicken. Spruce Pine also hosts exciting new restaurants like the Live Oak Gastropub and Chill Thai and Sushi Bar, each with an inviting selection of tempting foods and beverages that will provide a cosmopolitan experi ence without ever leaving the Toe River Valley.

Shops in Spruce Pine present plenty of winter attractions as well, especially for those seeking a perfect gift for a special occasion, holiday, or just to drive off the winter blues. Since downtown is within easy walking distance from the Boutique Hotel and convenient parking spots, staycationers won’t even get too cold as

they check out original artwork, regional crafts, furniture, and more on Upper or Lower Street. Art studios beckon with artisans demonstrating and displaying a host of artforms, from glass to sculpture, with something to brighten up any winter day. A visit to Toe River Arts is a great way to learn more about the many artists in the area and to perhaps even pick up a class or workshop.

For some staycation pampering, the Mayland Community College Cosme tology Salon offers a variety of spa treat ments, like facials, manicures, pedicures, and a wide range of haircare services. The new salon, which just opened in 2022, is located in the Three Peaks Event Center, adjacent to the Boutique Hotel, and fea tures state-of-the-art spa tools to make anyone look and feel better on a winter’s day. A new style or some relief for dry winter skin are both just a step away for anyone on a Spruce Pine staycation.

Special winter packages are available for those seeking to bring a little sparkle to the colder months, such as the Valen tine’s Day special in case a romantic win ter staycation with wine and chocolate is just what Cupid ordered. Ski season deals are available for those heading over to the slopes.

A beautiful winter snowfall is of ten a treat, but the glorious views of the clear sky on a winter night are beyond

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 61
Continued on next page
Bridge over the North Toe River, from Blue Ridge Boutique Hotel to Riverside Park and downtown Spruce Pine. Courtesy of Mayland Earth to Sky Park’s Bare Dark Sky Observatory—winter is the ideal time for stargazing. Photo by Patti Grosh

compare. Spruce Pine visitors and stay cationers have the unique opportunity to experience those amazing winter skies at the Bare Dark Sky Observatory, just out side town at the Earth to Sky Park. Using the Observatory’s remarkable 34-inch Newtonian telescope, or even the smaller Meade scope, visitors can marvel at the wonders of the heavens. Stargazers can even bring their own telescopes and take advantage of stunning 360-degree views at the Observatory, which sits at over 2,700 feet and is handicapped accessible.

When the weather does not cooper ate with clear skies, the Earth to Sky Park is still a perfect winter destination since the new Glenn and Carol Arthur Planetarium is warm and comfortable in any weather. A number of shows are of fered each week, including new, wintery features on the Aurora Borealis and the Arctic Circle. A planetarium show is the perfect chance to travel without going far, relaxing in a comfortable zero-gravity chair while soaring through space or over the ocean.

This winter is also a great time to enjoy the planetarium’s new laser light shows. Classic rock shows feature bands familiar to an older audience, while other shows, like Peter and the Wolf, are perfect for the younger crowd, and the Christmas

show is a delight for all ages. Friday and Saturday evenings at the planetarium are ideal winter date nights, and there is even a special Valentine’s Day show featured with the Boutique Hotel package.

With so much to do and enjoy right here in Spruce Pine, it’s never necessary to run away to have the perfect winter va cation. A few hours, a weekend, or even an entire week of shopping, dining, and adventure enjoying the wonders of nature can do wonders for the soul any time of year, but for a winter rejuvenation stayca tion, it’s hard to beat Spruce Pine.

To learn more about what Spruce Pine has to offer, check out www.discov

For more information on the Blue Ridge Boutique Hotel, including special winter packages and discounts, visit

For Observatory or Planetarium schedules and tickets at the Earth to Sky Park, go to www.mayland. edu/foundation/foundation-events/earth-to-skyobservatory/ or foundation-projects/the-glenn-carol-arthurplanetarium/.

As a Main Street America Affiliate™, Spruce Pine Main Street is part of a national network of more than 1,200 neighborhoods and communities who share both a commitment to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservationbased economic development.

Spruce Pine is also a North Carolina Main Street Community, designated by the NC Department of Commerce and Main Street and Rural Planning Center.  Learn more at and

62 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE
Architectural Rendering of the new Blue Ridge Boutique hotel; the hotel is now open and all construction is slated to be completed this spring.
Enjoy a
Main Street Acozyroomwithcolorfulquiltsinside theBlueRidgeBoutiqueHotel.
The Mayland Community College Cosmetology Salon at their new Cosmetic Arts Center offers hotel guests and the public a variety of spa treatments, like manicures and pedicures.

Blue Ridge Parkway News Sounds of the Mountains Series to Warm up Winter

Don’t let cabin fever set in after the holidays. Just a short drive from the High Country, you can experience the Sounds of the Mountains concert series at the Yadkin Arts Council in Yadkinville. The Blue Ridge Music Center and arts council are presenting the seventh edition of this winter showcase of Appalachian Roots Music on the last three Saturday evenings in January at the wonderful Willingham Theater on the campus of the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center.

Becky Buller Band & Violet Bell

7:30 p.m., Saturday, January 14

Tickets: $30

Becky Buller is a singer, songwrit er, multi-instrumentalist and 10-time International Bluegrass Music Asso ciation award recipient. She and her band have traversed the globe play ing for audiences. Her compositions have been recorded by Ricky Skaggs, Rhonda Vincent, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and The Infamous String dusters, to name just a few.

Opening act Violet Bell is rewild ing Americana music. Lizzy Ross’ rich soprano intertwines with Omar Ruiz-Lopez’s fiddle, guitar, banjo, and harmonies to create a lush and sinu ous sound. Together, they draw on a thread of untamable energy and natural magic passed down through generations of storytelling.

The Burnett Sisters Band with Colon Ray & Tray Wellington Band

7:30 p.m., Saturday, January 21

Tickets: $25

For The Burnett Sisters Band, it’s all about family. Growing up playing music together in North Carolina, the sisters’ sound is focused around the type of breathtaking vocal harmonies that can only come from the unique bond shared by siblings, expertly complemented by tight instrumental arrangements and a bona fide love of the traditional songs they play.

Tray Wellington opens the show. From learning traditional bluegrass to studying diverse genres such as jazz, pro gressive bluegrass, blues, rock, and more, Wellington has played with some of the most accomplished musicians in the world. Before reaching the age of 21, he has received a number of awards and accolades, including two awards from IBMA–2019 IBMA Momentum Instrumen talist of the Year and 2019 Momentum Band of the Year (with Cane Mill Road).

7:30 p.m., Saturday, January 28

Tickets: $30

Rissi Palmer’s gift lies in reaching across all musical boundaries. While she started out making her mark in country music, she is equally at home in R&B, bringing the entire spectrum of popular music to bear on what she calls “Southern Soul.” A few highlights throughout her musical career include performances at The White House, New York’s Lincoln Center, The Grand Ole Opry, and MerleFest.

Singer-songwriter Laurelyn Dossett lives and writes in the North Carolina piedmont, and her songs reflect the stories of the region. Dossett is a frequent performer at regional music festivals such as MerleFest and the North Carolina Folk Festival. She is known for her work with Triad Stage to bring original music to the critically ac claimed “Brother Wolf,” “Beautiful Star,” and others, and worked with the North Carolina Symphony to produce “The Gathering: A Winter’s Tale in Six Songs.”

Information and tickets are available at or

Rissi Palmer & Laurelyn Dossett & Friends Becky Buller Rissi PhotoPalmerbySamanthaEverette The Burnett Sisters Band

Ski or Fish?


Now that winter has arrived in the High Country most people are thinking about slope conditions, not stream conditions. This is understandable since the winters here can be rough for fishing and great for snow sports. But for those of you who can’t wait until spring there are some winter angling opportunities.

The first thing to remember is the trout still eat during the winter. Trout are a cold water species and are actually more com fortable during the winter months than they are in the late summer. This is because cold water holds more oxygen than warm water. Fish may breathe well during the winter, but this does not mean they are overly active. With the cold water there are fewer aquatic insects for them to eat. They have built up fat to help them survive during the lean winter months and don’t want to burn calories chas ing food. Even though it is always helpful if you can read water to know where the trout are holding, it is vital to be successful when winter fishing. You need to put the fly or lure right on the trout’s nose to get it to bite.

Now that you know the trout will cooper ate during the winter the next big consider ation is the temperature. This does not refer to the angler’s comfort since you can always layer up on your clothes and, with fishing gloves, be reasonably comfortable. Rather, you must consider your equipment and the condition of the streams.

If the High Country experiences an ex tended period of below freezing weather the streams can be partially or totally frozen over. Obviously fishing would be impossible with a solid sheet of ice covering the water, but even partial icing creates problems. With ice along the edge of streams a hooked fish can run under the ice and your leader or line can be cut. Another problem when it is below 32 degrees is water freezing in the line guides on the rod. This is especially a problem for the fly fisher. Since fly line is thicker it picks up more water. When this water gets on the

metal guides it freezes and it becomes nearly impossible to cast.

That is the bad news; the good news is that there are many days during a High Country winter when it gets above freez ing. Just ask any of our ski area management about the dreaded January thaw. When we do have a few warmer days to fish, there are some important things to keep in mind to fish safely.

As mentioned earlier, layer your clothes to stay warm. Multiple layers will keep you warmer that one heavy coat. You will also need to get some fishing gloves to protect your hands. There are numerous types but the most common kind are fingerless gloves. Also, when you get to the stream watch out for ice on the streamside rocks. A wrong step could make you take a hard fall. And speaking of falling, it would be a good idea to not stray too far from your vehicle. Fall ing in while fishing happens to everyone; if you have never fallen in you are not fishing enough. Normally it is no big deal but during the winter you want to get to your vehicle and heat up as quickly as possible.

If you really want to fish and the High Country is in a deep freeze, there are sev eral angling opportunities “off the mountain” where it is warmer due to lower elevation. One possible location is Wilson Creek in Caldwell County, which has a long section of Delayed Harvest water. Delayed Harvest wa ters were stocked by the NC Wildlife Resourc es Commission the first of October and the first of November. Delayed Harvest waters are the only streams that get stocked with trout in the fall. Also keep in mind that De layed Harvest streams are classified as single hook, artificial lures only and are catch-andrelease this time of year.

Another option is the Tennessee tail wa ters near Elizabethton and Bristol, TN. The two rivers closest to the High Country are the Watauga (yes, the same Watauga River but after it has flowed through Watauga Lake)

and the South Holston below South Holston Lake. These two rivers are below hydroelec tric dams so the water released from the lakes comes off the bottom and stays about the same temperature all year. In fact, during the winter the water can be warmer than the air temperature but it is the ideal tempera ture for trout. Tennessee Wildlife estimates that there are approximately 3,000 fish per mile on these rivers.

One very important safety aspect to be concerned with is rising waters. These rivers are below Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) lakes. What makes them good places to trout fish also makes them potentially danger ous. Since the main purpose of these lakes is power generation, the waters can come up quickly if TVA starts releasing water. Neither river can be waded if TVA is generating elec tricity. With that said TVA does a good job of making the generation schedule available. You can find the schedule by going to TVA’s website. But keep in mind that TVA has the right to start generating any time they feel there is a need for electricity. It is a good idea whenever you are fishing these rivers to lo cate some rock or log and keep an eye on it. If you notice the water rising on the rock or log, get out immediately.

Even with these options there will be times during the winter when fishing is im possible or the roads are bad due to snow. During these times you can still be involved. If you tie flies winter is a good time to stock up on flies for the spring. Winter is also a good time to check your equipment. Clean your fly line and reel. Clean out and organize your fly boxes or your tackle box. If you use a fishing vest or pack, get rid of the things you never use. After all, do you really need that two-year-old oatmeal cookie?

64 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE

Trail Reports: Winter 2022/23

Does your family enjoy hiking and ex ploring our local forests, parks and trails? Fol low our “Trail Reports” in each issue for some of the latest developments on trails and pub lic lands, and to learn about opportunities to discover our region’s biodiversity and rugged mountain beauty.

Winter Bird Walks

While many birds head south for the win ter, we have a fair number of resident bird species that call the High Country “home” year round. Bird walks are wonderful in any season, but winter—when trees are leaf less—can be a great time to spot birds. The High Country Audubon Society (HCAS), serv ing a five-county area (Alleghany, Ashe, Av ery, Watauga and Wilkes counties), offers bird walks throughout the year.

Every Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., win ter birders meet at Valle Crucis Community Park in Valle Crucis, NC. With its assortment of habitat types—riparian forest, marsh, meadow and open field—the Park supports a wide diversity of birds. According to HCAS data, nearly 150 species of birds have been observed and at least 30 species nest in the area. Any time of the year, you may catch a glimpse of the following species: Great Blue Heron, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, Osprey, Coo per’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Bald Eagle,

Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Pile ated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebird, Cedar Waxwing, and Northern Cardinal. Dur ing the winter, you may also see Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, White-throated Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco.

Another regular Bird Walk is held at Brookshire Park in Boone on the first Satur day of each month throughout the year, rain or shine. Check out the High Country Audu bon Society’s online calendar for up-to-date information for these walks, and more, at Here, you will also find an interactive map and species lists for birding sites throughout the fivecounty area.

Valle Crucis Community Park: 2892 Broadstone Rd, Valle Crucis, NC 28691 (behind the Mast General Store Annex) Brookshire Park: 250 Brookshire Rd, Boone, North Carolina 28607

The Northern Peaks State Trail Project

The Northern Peaks of the High Coun try are situated between the mountain communities of Boone and West Jefferson, dividing the New River and Watauga River watersheds. The region is home to nationally

significant biospheres with unique ecologi cal diversity. The Northern Peaks are often referred to as the Amphibolite Mountains and include Howard Knob, Elk Knob, Snake Mountain, Three Top Mountain, The Peak, Paddy Mountain and Mount Jefferson.

The Northern Peaks State Trail (NPST), one of twelve State Trails in North Carolina, was authorized by the NC General Assem bly in 2019. Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) is the lead organization for the construction of the trail, which will ultimately span 40 miles and connect Howard Knob Park in Boone to Mount Jefferson in Ashe County. “Our num ber one priority is the environmental impact Continued on next page

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 65
Northern Cardinal Photo by Don Mullaney Great Blue Heron Sculpture Valle Crucis Community Park Carolina Chickadee Photo by Todd Arcos Elk Knob State Park Photo courtesy of

of the trail,” said Jordan Sellers, BRC’s Northern Peaks State Trail Coordinator. “We are working diligently to do things the right way and to build a trail that’s consistent with BRC’s mission of pro tecting the places we love.”

Unlike state parks, which are operated and managed by the Division of Parks and Recre ation, state trails are composed of multiple con nected sections and depend on regional part nerships. Each section of the trail is sponsored by a federal, state or local government agency, nonprofit organization or private landowner. In recent months, the Ashe County Board of

Commissioners and the Board of Aldermen of the Town of West Jefferson unanimously approved resolutions to endorse the Northern Peaks State Trail (NPST).

Several parts of the trail are currently in the planning stages, including a significant portion of Elk Knob State Park. Follow the progress of the project at https://blueridgecon

The NPST is a partnership between Blue Ridge Conservancy, the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, Watauga County Tourism Development Authority, Ashe County, Ashe County Chamber of Commerce, West Jefferson Tourism Development Authority, and the Town of Boone.

Save the Date: Virginia Wildflower Walk on April 22

Wildflower lovers are invited to join a free wildflower walk in beautiful Fries, Virginia, on Saturday, April 22, beginning at 9:30 a.m. The walk will cover about a mile each way on the New River Trail State Park pathway, starting at the Dixon Ferry low-water bridge between Galax and Fries, VA.

There is no charge for admission and registration is not required—simply show up that morning. Participants should park at the New River Outdoor Adventures parking lot, 5785 Fries Rd., Galax, where refreshments will be served after the walk.

The wildflower walk is led by local naturalist Ashley DeCarme, who has studied native Appalachian plant life and currently teaches environmental studies at Grayson County (VA) High School. She will be concentrating on the identification of beautiful spring “ephemer als” like trillium, Dutchmen’s breeches, May apple and many more, including flowering trees and shrubs.

The pace will be leisurely, in order to stop frequently along the way and learn about the various wildflowers that bloom at the beginning of spring. Organizers of the walk will supply a souvenir checklist for plant identification.

For information contact Nan Chase at or 276-235-9294.

For lodging options see

The Region’s Largest & Finest Selection of WINE & BEER Since 1978 1104 Hwy 105 • Boone, NC 828-264-9476 Historic Bed & Breakfast in the Heart of Boone Minutes from Downtown and Campus Find your Mountain Escape on our beautiful 11 acre property. Organic Farm-To-Table Breakfast Sustainable Energy Project of the Year Award 2021 828.270.0831 |
Emerging Trillium Photo by Nan Chase

Good Wood, Toasty Winter

Tips from CML on Making Great Fires all Season Long

Many considerations go into building the ideal fire. If you rely on burn ing wood to generate heat in your home, the first consideration is a good fireplace or wood burning stove. Next, you need to have a quality fuel source—firewood.

Good firewood management can make the difference between a warm, comfort able winter and a soggy, chilled mess. But which wood should you burn? We tracked down the “BTUs” (British Thermal Units*) of some common tree species to determine which have the highest BTU values. Let’s begin with the following chart:

The tree species with the highest BTU values generally burn hotter and slower, and their wood is typically denser and heavier. In general, the heavier air-dried wood is, the more heat it will produce. However, there are a number of other fac tors to consider when choosing firewood, such as the age of the wood; the ease of splitting it; how much it smokes, pops or throws sparks; its coaling attributes; and the fragrance it emits. Each tree has its own unique qualities.

For example, apple trees incline to be gnarled and tough when full grown. You’ll have few long lengths to cut and split, and plenty of knots. However, apple wood has a pleasant aroma while burning, and you may decide that it is worth the effort. Elm has a very irregular grain, and yellow birch has a very tight grain; both are tough to split. Oak, ash, and maple all split more easily. White birch has waterproof bark and must be split within weeks of cutting or it will start to rot.

Several of the best burning trees would rarely be cut purely for firewood, such as white oak, yellow birch, and sugar maple— all are valuable for furniture making. If you found a straight stretch of trunk as much as four feet long on either a black walnut or a black cherry tree, you might consider selling it to be crafted into furniture and veneers, or to be used in wood turning projects. As with oak, birch, and maple, the branches and trimmings from walnut and cherry make dandy firewood for either stove or fireplace.

A Rule of Thumb

You’ll note that the ‘Second-choice Woods’ list includes a concentration of evergreens. If you’re looking for a quick generality, stay away from using evergreens

in your fireplace. Not only are they low in thermal values, but they will gum up your chimney.

That said, the evergreens and other trees with lower values will split more eas ily. And tight cords of these woods will weigh half as much as the good woods.

All things considered, when looking at the best all-around performers, it’s hard to beat hickories, black locust, red oak and white oak. You’ll get more heating value for your money and effort. If you’re looking to minimize your effort, the High Country has a number of local firewood suppliers who offer a variety of different woods— chopped, seasoned and ready to burn.

Safety First: Tending the Fireplace

Any article on fire warrants a few notes on safety. Just as all woods are not created equal, the fireplaces that burn wood vary in many ways. It’s important to know the structure of your wood burning firebox or stove and to maintain it accordingly. Here are some simple guidelines:


. Visually inspect the firebox for cracks and signs of distortion, including the chimney.


. Use only natural wood and never spray flammable liquids into a burning fireplace (kerosene, charcoal, lighter fluid, gasoline, etc.).


. Avoid using “artificial” logs made from wax and sawdust—if you must use manufactured logs, choose those made from 100 percent compressed sawdust. Also note that the heat generated by ar tificial or manufactured logs may be more intense and can damage the firebox walls and joints connecting the flue pipes, which can result in a dangerous situation.

4. Keep a screen over the fireplace

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 67 Continued on next page

opening while burning and keep com bustibles at least three feet away from the fireplace opening. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

5. Regularly remove ashes into a cov ered, metal container and store that con tainer outdoors on a nonflammable sur face. Have your fireplace unit inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep regularly.

Best Practices for Fire Building

According to the Environmental Pro tection Agency (EPA), “An efficient, hot fire requires good firewood, using the right wood in the right amount, and good fire building technique.” All of that fine wood we discussed earlier is “high quality” only when it is seasoned properly; be sure to use wood that has been covered and dried out doors for at least six months. When you’re ready to light, follow these best practices:

1. Have a good, strong grate in your fireplace that sits off the floor to allow air flow underneath the wood and to keep the wood from rolling against the back wall of the firebox and damaging it.

2. Make sure your damper is open. You may want to consider a damper reminder hook, an accessory that hangs from the handle to remind you to open or close your

damper and that helps keep your hands soot-free.

3. Choose the right length of wood for your firebox. Most prefabricated systems require 16-18” lengths of wood to keep from damaging the firebox. Your firewood should be cut to fit your firebox, keeping at least a 2” space on both sides.

4. Stack dry kindling on the grate. Start fires with uncoated newspaper, or all-nat ural, organic fire starters (don't use coated or glossy paper, cardboard or household garbage).

5. You may need to open a door or win dow on the windward side of your house to depressurize the house (if your house is too air tight, the fireplace cannot work prop erly and may smoke).

Keep practicing until you’ve mastered building the perfect fire—with the right wood—and heat up your home for a more comfortable winter!

*BTU is a unit of heat defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Note that BTU data varies— the chart represents approximate values. A full cord is defined as a stack of firewood measuring 4ft x 8ft x 4ft. Figures from wood-heating, forest-biofuel/firewood/firewood-btu-ratings/

Providing Firewood for Families in Need

The Helping Hands Woodlot Ministry grew out of a recognized need for a heating source for many families. Harold Stophel, who serves as team leader for Grace Builders at Grace Lutheran Church in Boone, coordinates the work of the Woodlot Ministry, which has been serving the community for nearly 18 years. He and his crew of volunteers meet every Tues day morning from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to chop wood, which is then provided to area families who heat with wood during the win ter months, but often cannot afford to buy it.

The wood comes from all over the High Country—from fallen trees and from dona tions by builders clearing land. Once the trees have been transported to the Boone property adjoining Hospitality House of Northwestern North Carolina and the Health and Hunger Coalition, the wood is machine split into man ageable sections, and then split further for household use. The Health and Hunger Coali tion and WeCAN (Watauga Crisis Assistance Network) agencies partner with the Helping Hands Woodlot and help select people to re ceive the wood donations.

How can you help? If you have a fallen tree, or trees on your property that need to come down, consider donating them to this ministry. The Helping Hands Woodlot is also seeking volunteers for a variety of tasks, from collecting, cutting and splitting wood, to providing tools and vehicles, to delivering firewood to families, to preparing meals for a hungry crew. “We couldn’t have been suc cessful through the years without the ongo ing support of volunteers,” said Stophel. Vol unteers include individuals, and groups from local churches, fraternities, and other civic or ganizations. “We can always use volunteers— men, women, teens and those with a heart for making a difference in our community.”

If you’re interested in learning more or volunteering with the Woodlot Ministry, contact Harold Stophel at 828-789-9127, or Grace Lutheran Church at or 828-264-2206.

68 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE

Women Score a Bullseye at This Marksmanship Clinic

Project Appleseed. It sounds like a gar den club outing, but no, this two-day educational event—a gathering nicknamed “Ladyseed,” just for female participants— was my introduction last July to the world of precision rifle marksmanship. Now I’m hooked and have already signed up to at tend another such clinic soon.

I wasn’t there at the Cherokee Rod & Gun Club near Kingsport, TN, because of a burning desire to defend myself or my home with a firearm, but for two dif ferent reasons: an interest in understand ing the roots of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, and as an unusual way to hang out with two of my grand children—girls aged 14 and 11 who are already proficient shots. And their dad, my elder son, would be one of the instructorsin-training.

Yes, I understand that the subject of guns is fraught with controversy and emo tion, and my heart aches for the pain they have caused. But they are also a fact of life in America, and I reckoned that learning to handle a rifle safely is a good life skill.

The all-volunteer national nonprofit Project Appleseed seeks to introduce marksmanship through Revolutionary American history, specifically, the role of colonial riflemen who took up arms against British troops on April 19, 1775, to usher in the period of struggle that resulted in our independence and liberty. In the case of this Ladyseed class the history lesson also described the crucial support that women provided.

That historical perspective suited me perfectly. As a bit of a Constitution nerd I had been wondering how it was that our national dialog about guns—with the Sec ond Amendment a pivot point—empha sizes the final section of the Amendment. That’s the part stating “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” What about the first part, though: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”?

Understanding the concept of a “well regulated Militia” told me that learning how to handle a rifle might be the key. It was.

When I arrived early that Saturday morning at the shooting range, the park ing lot was filling with upscale sedans and SUVs, not pickup trucks. The attendees at this Ladyseed clinic turned out to be mostly middle-aged members of a lo cal women’s pistol club, plus me and the granddaughters, and the eight instructors and assistants.

Since I didn’t own a gun I was issued a “loaner,” a .22 semi-automatic rifle with a magazine that would hold 10 small bullets; the word semi-automatic sounds menac ing but just meant that I wouldn’t have to reload between individual shots, and since the sessions would be timed, that was im portant.

The firing line was sheltered by a roof, and had a concrete floor where we would set out our thick shooting pads (for firing from a prone position) and other equip ment like eye protection, ear protection, elbow pads, and more.

After the history lesson—delivered with great emotion—came hours of safety instruction with basic practices and com mands of marksmanship. The “well regu lated Militia” now made sense to me. A group working together for a common goal needed more than individual skills; rather, we needed order, discipline, and the will ingness to be observed and corrected. The instructors kept their eyes on each of us throughout the two-day experience, acting as drill sergeants to keep all of us safe yet moving ahead with proficiency. I loved it!

It wasn’t until after lunch the first day that we donned safety glasses and earmuffs and got down to the business of shooting. That’s when I discovered just how physi cally demanding marksmanship is. As I got ready to take my first shot at the paper

target 25 yards away, I started to sweat un til drops rolled down my nose, my glasses fogged up, my squinting eye almost went into spasms, and my elbows would soon be raw despite the padding. It seemed like a diabolical dance of calm breathing, pinpoint focus through the sights, and yoga-like contortions to keep all body parts aligned correctly. There was also the sequence of making sure all safety proce dures took place in order: magazine out, bolt back, safety on, chamber flag in, rifle grounded, hands off rifles.

Each round of shooting was timed, and afterwards—rifles stowed—we advanced to the targets to study the results and cal culate improvements. It turns out there is plenty of science involved in becoming a good shot, not just aiming and squeezing the trigger.

During the second day of the clinic the pace picked up and we started working with variations in the sequence of shots and shooting positions. I was only beginning to learn how much I didn’t know, and to appreciate on a visceral level the struggles that shaped our country, our Constitution.

I arrived back home exhausted and ex hilarated.

If the challenge of learning rifle marksmanship skills appeals to you, visit for event and preparation information.

Be sure to check for events in neighboring states, not just North Carolina, as clinics fill up fast but are offered throughout the region. For the women-only clinics click on Ladyseed options.

And if you do not own a rifle ask the organizers if “loaners” will be avail able. Bring all the specified items on the preparation list—especially food and water—for maximum comfort and safety.


CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 69
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Wisdom and Ways Traditional Winter Foodways

In today’s world, the average High Country resident gives little thought to winter food preparation. Meals are as close as the nearest grocery store or maybe even a delivery service. About the only devia tion from that comes when an impending spate of snow or ice throws a kink in things. Then there’s a brief but powerful reminder of times when folks were self-dependent, food-wise and otherwise, to a degree that is now unknown. Yet it behooves us to look back on this largely lost world, one where “make do with what you’ve got” and “raise what you eat” lay at the very heart of moun tain existence.

A logical beginning place was with a staple that could almost be described as the mother church of culinary consider ations in Southern Appalachia—corn. There were actually two basic types of corn, sweet corn and field corn, with the former being a garden item while the latter was normally grown in separate patches, often in tandem with October beans and pumpkins in the traditional “three sisters” approach. Sweet corn was eaten on the cob as roasting ears, cut from the cob for creamed corn or use in soups, and canned.

Field corn was in large measure a dried food, inasmuch as it was allowed to ma ture on the stalk before being harvested. It could then be stored in a crib until needed for a run of cornmeal at the nearest miller’s place of business or used in other ways. The dishes provided by corn were in some sens es limited by nothing except a cook’s inge nuity. There were hominy and grits made from kernels that had first been processed with lye made from water and wood ashes to produce those delicacies. Festooned

with a pat of home-churned butter, either made for mighty tasty eating. Corn ground for meal produced cornbread, fritters, hoe cakes, johnny cakes, hush puppies, and other treats. Many a mountain youngster carried a bucket lunch to school featuring a chunk of cornbread and maybe some mo lasses to enhance its taste. Cornbread and milk were standard fare, maybe with a piece of fried streaked meat as a side, for supper. Then of course there was consumption of corn in a somewhat disreputable man ner—its liquid form. Variously known by colorful descriptions such as tanglefoot, golden moonbeam, peartening juice, and snakebite medicine, moonshine was for some folks an integral and important part of mountain life. Illegal distilling and boot legging have garnered far more attention and notoriety than they merit, but by the same token there is no denying they were widely practiced by certain segments of High Country society.

Dried legumes of various types also fig ured prominently in winter diet. Soup beans (a generic term for various types of beans including pintos, navy beans, kidney beans, October beans, and even field peas), invari ably served with freshly baked cornbread, were a standard on mountain tables. So were leather britches, the colloquial name given to dried green beans. They would be harvested, washed, and strung. Then came the drying process. It usually involved us ing a heavy-duty sewing needle and some stout thread to place long strands of them on the string for drying. After hanging for several days in the summer sun, an outof-the-way kitchen corner, or from rafters in a tin-roofed barn, they would become

leather like in appearance and would keep for months. All it took to prepare a mess of leather britches was to reconstitute them with a suitable amount of water in a pot, add some streaked meat and maybe a few flakes of dried hot pepper for seasoning, and set them to cooking.

Dried fruit also had considerable sig nificance. Most mountain families living off the land had small orchards with peaches and pears, but especially apples, growing in them. Peaches and apples, when har vested, sliced thin, and dried until just short of brittle (sometimes with a bit of sulfur to prevent browning and rot), could be stored in cheese cloth in a warm, dry place, such as the corner of a kitchen with a wood-burn ing stove, until needed. They formed the basis for cherished traditional High Country sweet treats such as mule ears (fried pies) and that quintessential regional dessert, a stack cake. Reconstituted with a bit of spice added, along with sorghum molasses as needed, dried fruit was the answer when it came to satisfying a sweet tooth. Of course various offerings from orchards, along with tame and wild berries, were also preserved for winter use as jams, jellies, butters, or fruit leather.

When it came to meat on the table, pork took pride of place. Among other domestic meats, a common description for chicken, “preacher meat,” pretty well tells the tale. It was reserved for special times, such as when a local minister or perhaps family from a long distance away came to visit. Chickens were too valuable as egg layers to be utilized on an everyday basis. Beef was a

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 71 Continued on next page


comparative rarity, as was mutton. Indeed, on many mountain tables, and that would have included the one at which I dined as a youngster, the second most common meat after pork was small game—squirrel, rab bit, ‘coon, grouse, or quail. Deer and turkeys were exceedingly scarce and for genera tions weren’t part of the typical mountain culinary picture.

Pork had many virtues. Pigs required relatively little space, could be allowed to range free in the fall to fatten up on chest nuts (prior to the devastating blight around 1930), beechnuts, and acorns, and were far easier to preserve than other meats. Ev erything from hams to side meat could be cured, sausage or even prime cuts could be canned, and pork was as versatile in the meat line as corn was when it came to veg etables. Hams and slabs of bacon hanging in the family smoke house or cannery were a comforting sight with winter coming on and the same held true for shelf after shelf laden with canned goods.

Canning was, for some three gen erations from around the turn of the 20th century until the widespread transition to freezers, the favored approach for food preservation. Even today— even with the ready availability of foodstuffs from gro cery stores, decline in reliance on home gardens, and roomy refrigerators with con siderable space for frozen goods—canning remains of importance to many mountain folks. That is particularly true during winter months, when canned goods from efforts tracing back to months of crop growth and production await sampling and savoring. Adding to their appeal is the fact they form a tangible, tasty link to foodways of the past. There’s just something about opening up a quart jar of fruit or vegetable soup mix that lifts the spirits and whets the appetite. Similarly, anyone who still enjoys the culi nary wonder of pork sausage fried in patties and sealed in jars with lard knows canned goods readily translate to table magic.

This all harkens back to a time of simpler days and simpler ways, but rest assured that when it came to foodstuffs, hardy, self-suffi cient mountain folks knew how to confront winter’s bitter weather with scrumptious fare.

A longtime student of and adherent to mountain traditions, Jim Casada’s latest book, co-authored with fellow devotee to old-time ways, Tipper Pressley, is Celebrating Southern Appalachian Food: Recipes and Stories. It is due out in the next few months. To be notified when it appears or to sign up for Casada’s free monthly e-newsletter, contact him at jimcasada@


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History on a Stick: Emily Prudden

The 1868 North Carolina Constitution required the General Assembly to pro vide “for a general and uniform system of public schools,” free of charge to children between the ages of six and twenty-one. The state Board of Education was created, but the actual oversight of the schools was held by each county and local school board. Most schools at the end of the 19th century were one room, with one teach er, and a term that lasted three months.

Into this void stepped several private individuals and various church organiza tions that saw a need for better educa tional opportunities for local children. One of those people was Emily C. Prud den. Born in Connecticut in 1832, Prud den moved to Berea, Kentucky, in 1878, probably to teach at Berea College. In 1882, she was serving as a housemother at Brainerd Institute in Chester, South Car olina. Prudden came to Blowing Rock for a vacation in 1885. Later in life, she wrote that local people were “poor, unlearned. . . shut out from all that makes life rich and lovely.” As she talked to local people, especially women, she “felt keenly their ignorance and need” with “no school, no church, no social life.”

Prudden’s description was not exactly true. There were churches and schools, along with social activities, in the area, but they were probably not what Prud den was accustomed to. Prudden re turned a year later, and on this vacation, she purchased a piece of property be tween Blowing Rock and Green Park. In 1887, she built a dormitory and opened a school for girls, Skyland Institute. Some

students boarded at the school, while others were day students. By the third year of operation, there were about 130 students. Susan F. Hinman was the first teacher. Later, Prudden constructed cot tages for teachers, while selling lots to people who wanted to construct homes near the school. A second building was eventually constructed to house young men. Prudden deeded the property to the American Missionary Association in 1890. Prudden returned to run the school for the 1910 through 1912 terms. The school closed in 1912. Local citizens and Blowing Rock summer residents tried to develop a branch of Lees- McRae College at the site, but the endeavor failed.

Prudden was deeply interested in education. Besides Skyland Institute in Blowing Rock, she founded schools in Connelly Springs, Saluda, Elk Park, Mill Springs, Cedar Valley, Lawndale, Brevard, Tryon, and near Lenoir. Her school in Gaston County was Jones Seminary and later became known as Linwood Col lege. Oberlin Home and School became Pfeiffer University. There were also two African-American schools, one in Elk Park and another, Lincoln Academy, in Kings Mountain.

Emily Prudden retired to Blowing Rock and later passed away at the home of one of her former students in Hickory in December 1917. She was buried near New Haven, Connecticut. “She did a won derful work in making the way possible for young men and women,” bringing “education to them,” reported the Watau ga Democrat on her death. She not only

looked after their education, but their “temporal needs, giving clothing to the destitute, taking homeless women and giving them a home until they could find employment.”

While the Skyland Institute build ing no longer stands, the North Caro lina Highway Historical Marker Program erected a marker at the intersection on US321 and Main Street in Blowing Rock in 1991.


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Where Are They Now?



Nerds, Nuts, and Ne’er-do-wells.

That is the way Watauga County native and film/television actor Myke Holmes labels himself on his website. Holmes has a down-toearth way of describing his look as well as his work. Most recently, High Country residents will recognize him as “Bill” in the widespread Harris-Teeter gas campaign, “Fill like Bill.”

An interview with this talented actor was refreshing because it was sprinkled with hu mor, good-natured stories, and rock solid fam ily values.

As far back as high school, Myke identified his desire to be an actor. And as a member of a state-winning theatre troupe, he got to taste the art form he wanted to pursue. Having the strength and conviction to not accept the certainty of an Air Force scholarship, he com pleted his college career as a theatre major at the film-friendly University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNC-W).

From his first television appearance as Sammy C. Hawk, the UNC-W mascot, at the 2003 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament to his role as Duane Deaver on the HBO Max series, THE STAIRCASE, Holmes has enjoyed his character roles as “nerds, nuts, and ne’erdo-wells.” He laughs as he admits, “There are many roles for emaciated and gaunt!” Unlike many actors, he never has to diet. He acknowl edges having wonderful genes and maintains a consistent weight of 155 pounds spread over his 6’2” frame.

Throughout his professional journey he has embraced his “look” and advises young hopefuls in the business to do the same. He remembers a particular audition call when the actor had to wear workout clothes. At first he thought he would turn down the audition due

to his slim build, admitting that in high school he was extremely self-conscious in shorts because of his bony knees. As an example of his emotional stability, professional savvy and self-confidence, he purchased extremely short shorts and took the audition commit tee by surprise with his unconventional look. He got the commercial. In the entertainment field, it is very unusual to find a professional actor who can say with conviction, “My su perpower is my bony knees! They make me unique.”

Holmes enjoys characters he can sink his teeth into. He finds bad guys more interest ing to play. How does a genuinely nice family guy play realistic bad guys? First, he earned an MFA in acting from Northern Illinois Univer sity and did postgraduate study at the world famous Moscow Art Theatre in Russia. But Holmes has a successful method he uses to realistically portray his most challenging roles by “finding myself in the role.” In other words, he looks for the universality of the character (“How is he like me?”) and builds on that. He “marries” the two—his life experiences and his character’s life—to achieve authenticity in his work. The success of his process is evident in the number of films and television shows he has listed on his impressive resume.

Further advice from this seasoned profes sional to young hopefuls is to “have thick skin.” He admits that his career has rolled out slowly and that he has learned life lessons in the pro cess. Another valuable tip he offers to those auditioning: “Do not try to make friends with the audition committee. That is not helpful to those hiring.” He says to be professional and pleasant but to not engage them to make a good impression. Although he admits that the

acting business can “chew you up and spit you out,” he feels grateful for the people who have come into his life and very blessed to have a life beyond what he dreamed.

Another part of his blessed life is his sup portive and loving family—not just his ex tended family here in the mountains, but his wife, Lindsey, twin eight-year-old daughters, and a six-year-old son. Holmes puts a prior ity on family time and his “shooting schedule” reflects this.

Holmes’ professional work, his talent, and his training eventually attracted his alma ma ter, which resulted in a call from UNC-W to teach acting. Returning to Wilmington was not a difficult choice for Holmes and his family. However, he admits to missing the beautiful mountains and the fresh cool air of the High Country. “I’m just not a sand person! Eventu ally I will be returning to the mountains.”

But in the meantime, there are certainly many more nerds, nuts, and ne’er-do-well characters in his future for his fans to enjoy.

Learn more about Myke Holmes’ work at

Ms. Trimella Chaney is a veteran theatre arts teacher and founder of the Theatre Arts Depart ment at Watauga High School. She currently teaches at Appalachian State University in the Department of Theatre and Dance, and is a lo cal community theatre director.


CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 75
Photos: Myke Holmes, attending ‘The Staircase’ TV show premiere at MoMA in New York in May 2022, courtesy of Myke Holmes as “Bill” in Harris Teeter’s “Fill Like Bill” commercials Periodically, CML comes across young people from our region who have ventured beyond the High Country to accomplish great things in this world. In this issue, we introduce readers to Myke Holmes, a talented actor making a name for himself. Myke Holmes, attending 'The Staircase' TV show premiere at MoMA in New York in May 2022, courtesy of Myke Holmes as “Bill” in Harris Teeter’s “Fill Like Bill” commercials

Snowboarding Skills Take Local Brothers to Regional and National Acclaim

BannerElk brothers Alex and Blake Broussard have taken advantage of being born and raised amidst the snowcovered mountains of Banner Elk, NC, to make names for themselves and represent the region in snowboarding. From the time they were toddlers, they have been gliding across the snow and loving it. Both of their parents are avid winter sports enthusiasts and encouraged their sons to get comfort able sliding on the snow early in life, lead ing them to develop confidence, passion and a talent for skiing and snowboarding.

Growing up in the High Country where winter sports are a part of life, it is not surprising that the boys went all in from their first run. They started off on snow skis and quickly became fear less, leading them to push for the next level. Older brother Alex, inspired by his snowboarding mother, moved to boarding first, and Blake switched to riding after he broke his leg on skis while in primary school. Both boys were members of the Sugar Mountain Ski and Snowboard Team and attribute much of their advancement to Aaron Maas, who coached many young High Country boarders over the past 10 years at Sugar Mountain, Beech Mountain, and Appalachian Ski Mountain, and who is now the head coach for the acclaimed Lees-McRae Snowboard Team.

The skiing and snowboarding com munity is an inclusive group, both in the Southeastern region and across the coun try, and there are many local folks, in ad dition to Maas, who have inspired and en couraged the Broussard brothers and guid ed them to where they are now. Some of their mentors include two-time National Boardercross Champion Andy McDaniel, Director of the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association (US ASA) Southeastern Series; Shawn and Casey Mitchell with Edge of the World, riders they grew up admiring; and Dun can Nielander, a preeminent local college

league rider. They acknowledge the support of many others, including Bill Leonard and Mark Russ with Ski Country Sports, Wade Whitman with Ride Snowboards, and area terrain park crews and snow-cat drivers, who allowed these southern shred ders to gain as much experience as possible on the snow so they could bring national recognition and respect to North Carolina winter sports competitors.

Each of the Broussards has achieved success by aligning their personalities with their chosen snowboarding disciplines. First-born brother Alex is a multiple dis cipline competitor who aspired to compete in “every [snowboarding] event I could get, Freestyle, Giant Slalom, Rail Jam and Slopestyle.” And at the collegiate level, he achieved regional and national recogni tion in multiple events while representing Lees-McRae. During his senior year as a Bobcat, Alex took second place in Big Air at the Southeastern Conference Individual Freestyle Championships and reached the top of the podium in Rail Jam, earning him the title of Southeastern Conference Individual Freestyle Champion. To put the icing on the cake of his collegiate snow boarding career, Alex earned a silver medal in the Combined Alpine event and third place in Combined Freestyle at the US Collegiate Ski and Snowboard National Championships in Lake Placid, NY, and helped Lees-McRae bring home National Championships in four team events.

In contrast, younger brother Blake has elected to specialize in Boardercross competitions. He came to this decision after realizing how much time and train ing is involved to become the best in his chosen area. What inspired him to reach for the pinnacle in the sport was qualifying for and traveling to the USASA 2017 Na tional Championships in Copper Moun tain, CO. All of the United States World Cup and Olympic level snowboarders get their start with USASA. He did well in

the time trials but was eliminated early on; however, this event “exposed me to elite level competition and fueled me to ex cel.” Unfortunately, the next several years were interrupted by injuries and a world wide pandemic so, although he qualified, Blake was unable to return to the National Championships during that time.

Healthy again and without the restric tions of COVID, Blake qualified for and headed to the 2022 USASA National Championships in Copper Mountain last April. This time, he not only gained exposure to national level elite competi tion, he gained the respect of the national snowboarding community, representing the High Country and the entire east coast and becoming the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Associa tion National Champion in Youth Men’s Boardercross. Needless to say, along with his supporters (like Andy McDaniels, who also rode to his second Men’s National Championship that day), Blake was elated and inspired. “It was a great feeling. I have always respected Andy and wanted to be able to beat him, now I am at his level.”

Always striving to become better, Blake is now ready to compete at the interna tional level and to ultimately make the US Snowboard Team and compete in World Cup and Olympic events. In order to achieve that dream, he will need to partici pate in races with other world class board ers and finish well to earn International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) points. His short-term goals include participat ing in NorAm FIS events in the U.S. and Canada this season and qualifying for the Junior World Championships in Passo San Pellegrino, Italy. To prepare for these events he traveled to Austria with the Park City Team this fall, and, if the weather co operates, he will be training with World Cup racers like Tyler Hamel, a member of the US Snowboard Developmental Team, and potentially earn a lot of FIS points.

76 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE
Blake Broussard Alex Broussard Alex Broussard

Both of the Broussards want to remain close to their mountain home and lo cal slopes, which is why they both chose to attend their father’s alma mater, LeesMcRae. It is also notable that they both earned scholarships in snowboarding so they could continue doing what they love while gaining valuable higher level educa tion. With Alex graduating with a BS in Business Administration and Finance last spring, and Blake beginning the Business and Marketing program, the brothers are paving the way for bright futures.

In addition to competing, each has set different goals for the future. Convivial Alex wants to continue enjoying the “free dom I feel working as a bartender, before pursuing a more serious career.” With no team to race for, he wants to “shred the east coast, ride locally, compete in local events, and get more involved in the community.”

He has already started by assisting with the Lees-McRae Snowboard Team.

Reflective brother Blake has a more continuous plan for competition and life. He realizes, “You can’t really make a living unless you are in the top ten percent in the world, so I want to stretch out [competing in Boardercross] as long as I can, and then come back here and work in the family business or open one of my own.”

As they shared thoughts on their fu ture, both Alex and Blake Broussard mentioned their concerns about climate change. As Blake stated, “The summers are getting longer and winters shorter and it needs to be talked about.” As mountain sports enthusiasts, they have been thinking about how they can make a positive impact and want to become advocates for environ mental awareness, renewable energy, and respect for our beautiful mountain com munity.

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 77
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Blake Broussard

Good Work

The High Country Charitable Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a vision to help the Avery County, NC, com munity by providing for neighbors and ani mals in need. The Foundation’s goal is not to compete with the large national foundations, but to fill the needs of the local charities who may greatly benefit from additional support. The foundation raises funds and distributes every dollar it collects from contributors to local agencies serving the needy. We invite you to get to know some of the many chari ties that were supported by the High Country Charitable Foundation’s 2022 grants.

AMOREM specializes in palliative medicine, hospice care, advanced cardiac care and grief support. Their mission is to provide quality, thoughtful, loving care to their patients and support to their families. 828-754-0101,

Avery Association for Exceptional Citizens (Yellow Mountain) serves adults with intellec tual or developmental disabilities living in Avery County. Yellow Mountain Enterprises is an adult day vocational program that operates under the umbrella of Avery Association for Exceptional Citizens. 828-733-2944,

Avery County D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is a collaborative program in which local law enforcement and local schools join to gether to educate students about the personal and social consequences of substance abuse and violence. 828-733-6006,

Avery County Habitat for Humanity works in partnership with people in need to build and renovate decent, affordable housing. 828-7331909,

The Avery Humane Society provides food, shelter, medical care and lots of love to our county’s homeless animals as staff and volun teers work to find permanent, loving homes for them. 828-733-9265,

Banner Elk Book Exchange offers opportuni ties to bring a book or books and exchange them for the same number of different books. In lieu of a book to exchange, patrons can make a small donation to take a book home. An aca demic tutoring program and summer enrich ment classes are also offered through the Book Exchange.

Banner Elk Fire & Rescue’s volunteer firefight ers protect life and property in the communi ties of Banner Elk, Sugar Mountain, Elk River, Diamond Creek, Eagle’s Nest, Tynecastle, The Farm, Balm, and Lees-McRae College. 828-8984623,

Blue Ridge Partnership for Children serves and supports the children, parents, and child care providers of Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties. 828-733-2899,

Community Care Clinic is a non-profit com munity-supported medical clinic that provides free primary care, mental health and behavioral health services, select specialty services and health education to low income, uninsured persons. 828-265-8591,

Ensemble Stage Theatre is a professional theatre in Banner Elk dedicated to culturally enriching the lives of residents and visitors by providing a broad range of live theatrical

presentations of the highest possible quality at an affordable price. 828-414-1844,

Feeding Avery Families (FAF) is a non-profit Christian organization in Avery County dedi cated to eliminating hunger by any means possible, including monetary donations, volunteerism, and food donations. 828-7838506,

Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation established to preserve Grandfather Mountain, operate the nature park sustainably in the public interest, provide an exceptional ex perience for guests, and inspire them to be good stewards of the earth’s resources. 800468-7325, non-profit-foundation/

High Country Caregivers is a stand-alone not for profit organization dedicated to relatives, respite, and resources for kinship caregivers, and relatives caring for loved ones with life-limiting illnesses and debility. 828-832-6366,

Hill Learning Center seeks to transform stu dents with learning differences into confident, independent learners. 919-719-7560,

Holston Camp and Retreat Center in Banner Elk has hosted summer camps for kids since 1959. Now a year-round facility, today’s camp ers play together and explore creation, try new activities, build community, develop physical, social, psychological, and spiritual skills, and make memories to last a lifetime. 844-465-7866,

Hospitality House of NW North Carolina, founded in 1984, is a non-profit crisis agency based in Boone that serves seven counties and

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helps those in crisis, poverty and homelessness rebuild their lives using housing, prevention, nutrition and myriad supportive programs and services. 828-264-1237,

Hunger and Health Coalition’s mission is to be a resource for individuals and families within our community who are struggling to provide themselves with basic needs. 828-262-1628,

Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk Foundation is dedicated to helping the youth in our com munity. Over the past 40 years the service organization has given out over a million dollars in grants to support organizations that focus on youth.

Lees-McRae College educates and inspires stu dents to approach life and work from a creative, collaborative, and critical perspective in prepa ration for diverse careers and environments. 828-898-5241,

LIFE Village is dedicated to meeting the ongo ing residential needs of adults with autism and related challenges. 828-406-2855,

Linville Volunteer Fire Dept. proudly serves and protects the citizens of Avery County NC, (828) 733-2188,

Mediation & Restorative Justice Center works to reduce the physical, emotional, and financial harm caused by unresolved conflict, litigation, and incarceration by providing mediation, alternative sentencing, and other restorative processes that increase the respect, peace, pro ductivity and safety in the communities served. 828-264-3040,

Mountain Alliance for Teens provides free service and adventure trips after school and on weekends for high school students. 828-2631770,

NC Rush Mountains Soccer Club is a youth soccer organization that provides players of all levels an equal opportunity to explore their po tential and pursue developmental experiences, both on and off the field. 828-278-8111,

OASIS, Inc. (Opposing Abuse with Services, Information, and Shelter), founded in 1978, is dedicated to ending domestic violence and sexual assault in Watauga and Avery Counties. 828-264-1532,

Parent to Parent Family Support Network provides free support, caring connections, infor mation and hope to families who have a prema ture baby, a child with a disability, an emotional or behavioral challenge, a mental illness, a chronic health condition or to families who are grieving the death of a child. 828-262-6089,

Pisgah Legal Services pursues justice by pro viding legal assistance and advocacy to help low-income people in Western North Carolina meet their basic needs and improve their lives. 800-489-6144,

Reaching Avery Ministry (RAM) is a 501(c)3 non-profit ministry that has served Avery County for over thirty years through their Ram’s Rack Thrift Store and Emergency Food Pantry. 828-733-5127,

Spirit Ride Therapeutic Riding Center is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization committed to helping children with disabilities and other health concerns achieve their full potential

through equine related therapeutic and educa tional activities. 828-278-7464,

The Jason Project/ “The Grandfather Project” is a program for at-risk kids suffering from mental problems and/or drug addictions. The program also seeks to assist any special kids who are struggling with adversities, including family, school, or other personal problems or challenges. 828-765-6561

Volunteer Avery County finds resources to aid families and individuals that do not qualify for public assistance and fall through the cracks. VAC also matches volunteers with opportunities to help in the community. 828-737-0718, volun,

WAMY Community Action’s mission is to part ner with communities and families to provide the disadvantaged the support and tools they need to become self-sufficient. 828-264-2421,

Western Youth Network (WYN) is a relation ship-focused resource for at-risk youth in the High Country. Through prevention and inter vention programs, WYN specializes in providing youth with the tools they need to reach their potential and discover their place in our world. 828-264-5174,

Williams YMCA of Avery County serves the community in the areas of Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility. The “Y” strives to help create a community where people have the opportunity to live healthy, all youth can be safe and reach their potential and the elderly have support to live quality, inde pendent lives. 828-737-5500,

To learn more about the High Country Charitable Foundation, Inc., call 828-898-3810, email, or visit

charity CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 79

CML Applauds Mark Freed

As the “Boone 150” Sesquicentennial cel ebration draws to a close, it’s time to give a shout-out to CML contributing writer Mark Freed (see Mark’s most recent article on page 44). Officially Boone’s Director of Cultural Resources, Mark is so much more. Bettie Bond, President of the Watauga County Historical Society, says his knowledge and appreciation of Appalachian music led the formation of the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM). Mark sometimes gathers over 100 young people at the Jones House to be nurtured by local music masters where, Bond says, “There’s always lots of pickin’ and grinnin’ going on.”

This success laid the foundation for part nerships with other entities, culminating in the BOONERANG Music and Arts Fes tival. “The committee Mark shepherded gave a newfound appreciation for our sweet home; his leadership fosters the kind of ‘let’s have a party’ celebratory atmosphere.” Perhaps Boone Mayor Tim Futrelle said it best: “Mark has a consum mate sense of tying together the old and the new—honoring the past and giving a nod to the present in innovative ways. Boone’s Cultural Resources has a very bright future.”

Mica Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary Mica was founded to create an artistowned gallery to encourage customers to deepen their appreciation of the handwork made in this region and to be part of the revitalization of the town of Bakersville, NC, through cultural tourism.

Ten years later, Mica members continue to see the gallery as an opportunity to contribute to the cultural, educational, and economic development of the com munity. During the month of December, gallery artists and patrons celebrate this important milestone, and will be show ing works throughout the month with a holiday theme, perfect for special gifts and stocking stuffers. Mica is located at 37 Mitchell Avenue, Bakersville, NC, and is open daily. Photo, below: Vicki Essig’s Small Mica Book Sculpture

MountainTrue Celebrates Its Volunteers MountainTrue continued its 40th Anniver sary Celebration by recently recognizing individuals from across the Southern Blue Ridge as regional Volunteers of the Year. Hayden Cheek, who is a consistent water quality volunteer with MountainTrue’s High Country team, was named High Country Volunteer of the Year. Hayden works at a local fly shop in Boone, NC, is an excellent angler and guide, and often goes above and beyond to take care of his local waterways. Learn more about the 2022 award winners and the impor tant work of MountainTrue at mountain Photo above: Andy Hill of MountainTrue presents Hayden Cheek with the High Country Volunteer of

Denim Ball Raises $240,000 in Support of Moses H. Cone Memorial Park

In late 2022, more than 200 guests attended The Denim Ball, hosted by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. The event surpassed its previous fundraising re cord, garnering $240,000 in support for continuing improvements at Moses and Bertha Cone’s former 3,500-acre estate. The nonprofit Foundation marked its 25th anniversary in 2022, and since its inception has worked with the National Park Service and donors to invest in the preservation of Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, including successfully nominat ing the estate for the National Register of Historic Places. Photograph below by Lonnie Webster; (L to R) Janet Stout, Eric and Diane Overcash, Richard Gambill, and Bob Stout.

Local Winery Earns Prestigious Awards

Grandfather Vineyard & Winery, located at an elevation of 3,300 feet, is nestled beneath the profile of Grandfather Moun tain and is known for producing award winning wines. At the 2022 Carolina Classic Fair/Mid-Atlantic Southeastern Wine Competition, the winery received the following awards for select wines: Silver for their 2020 Blue Ridge Brut; Silver for their 2021 Appalachia Bubbles, Bronze for their 2021 Dry Sparkling Rose; Silver for their 2019 Chambourcin; and Silver for their 2019 Appalachia Red. At the NC Fine Wine Competition, Grandfather Vineyard & Winery received: Gold for their 2021 Appalachia Bubbles; Silver for their 2019 Cabernet Franc; Silver for their 2019 Appalachia Red; Silver for their 2019 Estate White Blend; and Bronze for their 2018 Estate Red Blend. Cheers to this High Country wine maker!

the Year Award.
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Avery County Chamber Announces 2022 Award Winners

The Avery County Chamber of Commerce recently held its annual celebration to honor Chamber mem bers and recognize several outstanding individuals and businesses for their successes and many contributions to the community. Avery County native Scott Garland of Stonewalls was awarded “Business Person of the Year.” Mayland Community College was recognized as “Nonprofit of the Year.” Fred’s General Mercantile, which opened in 1979 on Beech Mountain, was awarded “Business of the Year.” Avery County High School Senior Abigail Crosby was recognized as “Student of the Year” and received a scholarship for her achievements. The final award of the celebration event went to Victoria Bowman, who was named “Volunteer of the Year.” The Avery County Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center is located at the Shoppes at Tynecastle and is open five days a week. To learn more about membership opportunities and the various events sponsored by the Chamber throughout the year, visit

Sarah Miller’s interpretation of “Our Place” by Terry Gabbard will represent NC at the Southeastern Theatre Confer ence this March in Lexington, KY. This is the fourth state championship for WHS, following previous wins for the play “Dearly Departed” in 1999, directed by Trimella Chaney, the production of “John Lennon and Me” in 2007, directed by Sarah Miller, and “Ernest and the Pale Moon” in 2019, directed by Zach Walker. In addition, Miller received an “Excellence in Directing” award and WHS students Elias Evans and Sage Park earned “Excellence in Acting” awards. Bravo, WHS!

Darius Rucker to Headline AASF ‘23

The Award-Winning Watauga High School Pioneer Playmakers

TFor the second time in three years, a production by the Pioneer Playmakers at Watauga High School has been named Distinguished Play at the NC Theatre Conference, which is the equivalent to winning the “State Championship in Theatre.” The win extends WHS’s streak of 42 consecutive NCTC Superior ratings in a row. The troupe and director

TNC Space Grants Awarded to App State Professor and Students for Aerospace and Aviation Research

Three Appalachian State University students and a faculty member received 2022–23 NASA-funded North Carolina Space Grants to conduct research relating to aerospace and aviation fields. Grants went to App State physics and astron omy professor Dr. James Sherman, and students Ethan Barber, a senior physics major, Matthew Allen, an engineering physics graduate student, and Samuel DeMay, an engineering physics graduate student. These students will participate in pertinent research as they work toward future scientific and technological break throughs. Photo: Matthew Allen, left, and Dr. James Sherman are pictured inside App State’s Appalachian Atmospheric Interdisciplinary Research (AppalAIR) facilities. Photography by Chase Reynolds.

An Appalachian Summer Festival has an nounced that three-time Grammy Awardwinning singer Darius Rucker will be the festival headliner for their 39th season in summer 2023, with an outdoor concert at Kidd Brewer Stadium on Saturday, July 29. Tickets go on sale to the public on Monday, March 20 at 10 a.m. Rucker first achieved multi-Platinum status in the music industry as lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the Grammy Award-winning band, Hootie & the Blowfish, who have sold more than 25 million albums world wide, including their Diamond-certified debut, “Cracked Rear View,” which remains among the Top 10 best-selling studio albums of all time. Since releasing his first country album in 2008, Rucker has earned a whole new legion of fans with four No. 1 albums on the Billboard Country chart, including RIAA Platinum-certified “Learn to Live and True Believers,” plus 10 No. 1 singles at country radio, and 11 Gold, Platinum or multi-Platinum certified hits. More info at

Lees-McRae Summer Theatre 2023

Lees-McRae Summer Theatre has, for almost 40 years, been a shining star in the Banner Elk community, providing top quality, professional theatre in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The theatre specializes in big stage musicals including Broadway classics and newer hits, plus some outstanding original works. If you have yet to enjoy this excel lent hybrid of professional, educational, and community theatre, consider getting to know them this year. The Theatre relies on financial support from community patrons, and contributions can be made online at

Photo credit: Rebekkah J. Meixner-Hanks Director Sarah Miller
LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 81

CML Extends Our Enduring Gratitude

Throughout our Silver Anniversary year, CML has recognized our long running advertisers who have allowed us to provide our publication, keeping true to our goal of remaining “absolutely priceless” to our readers. Carolina Mountain Life Magazine, like these enduring organizations, shares a common bond with our steadfast mountain culture. Through hard-work, selfreliance, loyalty and generosity, these partner organizations have prospered, providing High Country residents and visitors with valuable products and services that have increased the comfort, enjoyment, and wellbeing of our region.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System

Local healthcare has come a long way during the twenty-five years CML has been on stands, and it appears Ap palachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) will continue its mission to ad vance the quality of life for High Country residents and guests for many more years. Through a $160 million investment, they are embracing their priority of ensuring access to top quality healthcare right here

“on the mountain.” The extensive invest ment will provide new facilities, programs, and technology to not only enhance re gional healthcare, but provide many high ly needed resources for residents across the state.

The most noticeable investment in cludes new facilities to house top notch equipment and services. First, after rec ognizing that the sixty-year-old Watauga Medical Center needed more than reno vations, a brand new 48-bed patient care tower will better serve the community in comfort and quality. Next, the consolida tion and relocation of the wellness, ortho pedic, physical therapy, and sports medi cine cohorts to an improved Wellness Center Facility will meet the specialized and expanding needs of the community, which includes an aging population that is still very active and a burgeoning youth sports community.

Additional new healthcare facilities in the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System include the Heart and Vascular Center, providing cardiac interventions 24/7, and the 37-bed Appalachian Re gional Behavioral Health Hospital. These specialized centers bring the highest qual ity healthcare to patients and are in high demand not only throughout the region but statewide.

Another major initiative improving local access to excellent healthcare is the family medicine residency program, de veloped through a partnership with the University of North Carolina (UNC) and

the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC). The residency pro gram attracts applicants who, after gradu ating from medical school, select their specialty area in family medicine. This is a three-year commitment in which the residents study and train in rural settings where there is a high need for physicians. Research shows that oftentimes residents remain in communities where they train, and it is the ultimate goal of this residency program for the residents to stay in the High Country as primary care physicians.

Technology has significantly enriched healthcare and part of the $160 million investment includes linking up with a new electronic health record system. EPIC is a premiere system throughout the coun try allowing hospitals and healthcare systems to collaborate with continuity to deliver more innovative and improved care. Through a partnership agreement with UNC Health, ARHS is able to bring this resource to our area and offer the MyChart patient portal that allows patients to interact with their healthcare providers and access their health records.

Rob Hudspeth, President of the Foun dation and Senior Vice President for Sys tem Advancement for ARHS is excited about the future and says, “We are well positioned for the next 60 years.” He rec ognizes that “the non-profit Appalachian Regional Healthcare System has achieved success for the region only because of the amazing philanthropic support of the community.” One example of tremendous

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Cannon Memorial Hospital Watauga Medical Center

community generosity is the ongoing Capital Campaign. Initially the goal was set for $12 million to add complementary programs, equipment and technology for enhancing patient care. Yet, because of the rapid response from donors, the Foun dation has already raised $11 million. This spirit of giving led Board of Trustee member Mark Ricks and his wife Pamela Mars-Wright to pledge a challenge gift of $5 million. However, they wanted to encourage other donors to step it up and requested that the Capital Campaign goal be increased from $12 million to $20 mil lion. Now, they will provide the final $5 million to reach the newly established goal.

Our community is very appreciative of the benefactors who support the Ap palachian Regional Healthcare System as they achieve their main goal of providing excellent attainable healthcare for our res idents and visitors. You only have to live in an area without access to realize how very fortunate the High Country is to be able to receive top quality healthcare so close to home without having to travel off to large urban centers.

DeWoolfson Celebrates 40 Years in the High Country

Since 1983 DeWoolfson has manu factured specialty down comforters, pil lows, and featherbeds in Watauga County, and by wrapping them in European du vets and linens, became one of the first American companies to introduce a more

informal and much more cozy European style to American bedrooms. The concept originated when Richard Schaffer, now a retired professor of international business law, was teaching at Appalachian State University.

While traveling in Europe in the 1970s and ‘80s, Richard became enam ored with the European way of sleeping under fluffy goose-down comforters en cased in fine linens. He knew then that he wanted to bring that airy “warmth without weight” feel to others. Richard says he was probably born with an entre preneurial drive, being co-founder of the college’s international business program, lead-author of his landmark textbook on International Business Law, now in its 10th Edition by Cengage Learning, and of course DeWoolfson, where he set out to change how well Americans sleep.

At the time there was neither Internet nor fax machines, but with tenacity he was able to find sources for downproof fabrics and goose-down. Utilizing the mail and a borrowed telex machine, he found special ty textile mills in Europe willing to work with him in America. Together they chose specialized fabrics and developed com forter prototypes for the American mar ket. He chose the name DeWoolfson, his mother’s family from England. Richard hoped that by using the distinctive name he might uncover some family history. He was able to find other family there, discov er where his great grandparents are buried in London, and establish an international

luxury bedding brand name.

Schaffer chose the High Country for DeWoolfson because that was home, and the down products seemed just right for the mountains. The company has greatly evolved since it first started on a back porch in downtown Boone, later mov ing to Foscoe. In the 1980s they added a sewing and filling plant about a half-mile from the store. They not only grew locally but manufactured for Yves Delorme, Par is, and private labeled for retailers and de signers nationally. They also added show rooms in the Berkshires, Hilton Head Island, Blowing Rock, and Charlotte.

They started on the Internet early, in the 1990s. As their name and the Inter net grew, and as more people travelled and moved to our area, they consolidated their marketing and distribution to focus on their web presence and expanded show room in Foscoe. Richard proudly explains, “The grandchildren of our early customers still come into the store all the time.”

To maintain product quality Richard still works closely with the same German textile mills and down processors he start ed with. He admits it’s now a “global tex tile world,” as he says, and one of his fin est fabrics is currently woven in western Ukraine. His down and feathers still come only from European farms inspected by an organization committed to humane farming practices. DeWoolfson then uses specially engineered equipment that he

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Richard Schaffer with K9 Riggs Avery Schaffer

developed to weigh the delicate down to an accuracy of one-hundredth of an ounce and to blow it into each baffled-box of the comforter.

Richard says that DeWoolfson gave him freedom to follow his dreams and to do what he loves. For over twenty years he and his wife, Avery, a retired emergency nurse, have given back to their commu nity by training wilderness search and res cue dog teams at Linville-Central Rescue Squad. They’ve now worked several hun dred lost and missing person searches for law enforcement and emergency agencies in 41 counties over five states and have trained dozens of search dog-handler teams. Linville-Central provides full res cue services to Avery County, has a tech nical rope rescue team, a swiftwater team, and currently has nine SAR dog teams, which the Schaffers lead. Richard reflects, “The success of DeWoolfson has allowed us both the freedom to work with dedi cated and amazing people in emergency services, to see places and do things few people have a chance to do, to help those in need and their families, and to give back to our wonderful mountain com munity.”

Erick’s Cheese and Wine and So Much More

In 2023 Erick’s Cheese and Wine celebrates its 45th anniversary, one of the longest continuously operating busi nesses in the Banner Elk area. Named af ter one of two brothers who founded the establishment, it has received a refreshing update by the current owner who is not much older than the store. Jessie Dale is the first female owner in the history of

Erick’s Cheese and Wine and has brought in new products and an energy that has positioned the store to thrive.

Forty-four years ago, there was no where in the area to purchase specialty cheese and wine, so the original owners created Erick’s to fill that niche. Over the years, there have been several owners with different visions for Erick’s Cheese and Wine, but all have focused on providing palate pleasing products to High Country residents and guests.

Because specialty retail establishments are significantly impacted by ups and downs in the economy, the fact that Er ick’s Cheese and Wine made it through the 2008 recession and COVID can be attributed to the hard work and selfreliance of its owners and the loyalty of its customers. Jessie Dale took the helm in 2019 after working many years as the only full-time associate for previous own ers Randall Ray and Ren Manning. Un der Ms. Dale, the store closed for a short time to remodel, condense the square footage, reduce the imprint of wine mer chandising, and expand gift and accesso ries offerings. As Dale puts it, “I needed to diversify to bring in more non-wine drinkers. Sometimes you need to re-write the rules in retail. You need to kill what’s not working and expand in directions that might be out of your comfort zone; things that will work.”

She began by adding items she would want to buy and now offers whimsical gifts, unique implements that supplement cheese and wine, and cocktail accesso ries for constructing and enjoying craft cocktails (conveniently, the ABC Store is right next door). Erick’s Cheese and Wine

also creates custom gift baskets and eight different house made dips.

Jessie Dale was born in Banner Elk and grew up in Avery County so she understands the importance of keeping it local. In addition to the wide range of wares, Erick’s Cheese and Wine carries locally made candles, jams, honey and when available, regional cheeses. She also directs inquisitive aficionados to local farms and wineries. When times are good Erick’s gives back to the community, and fortunately they have been able to support the Avery Humane Society and Western Youth Network (WYN) in recent years.

Dale admits that running a specialty retail establishment is challenging, but it is also rewarding. Her favorite role is interacting with customers and develop ing relationships with the diverse people who visit her store. “All different kinds of people visit the High Country,” says Dale, “and being able to offer people products that make them happy is important.” She also stresses the importance of sustaining the local economy by offering affordable items and services that people value and supporting local employees with a good wage.

When Dale is not working in the store, she may be running after her two active daughters, playing with her ani mals (you may have met her dog in the store), watching birds, or developing new ideas and concepts for Erick’s Cheese and Wine. She is always thinking about enhancement; as you may have guessed, one consideration is a new name, since the store now carries so much more than cheese and wine, and, well…Erick has left the building.

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Jessie at Erick’s Cheese and Wine Erick’s Grab-and-Go Cheese Trays Goodies at Erick’s
CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 85 *Emergency Services available at Watauga Medical Center Lindsey Shapiro, DO Caitlin Porter, DO Connor Brunson, MD Toria Knox, DO Jessica Stevens, MD Jason Karimy, MD Dan Moore, MD Anna Sparks, DO Tiffany Warren, MD Isaac Werner, MD Surgical Services Low risk OB High risk OB Birth Control Menopause Emergency Services* Heather Jordan, CNM OBHG Physicians Primary Care Annual/breast exam/ Emergency Services* Cecilia Grasinger, MD Heidi Robertson, FNP AppFamily Medicine 148 Hwy 105 Extension, Suite 102 Boone, NC 28607 828-386-2222 Harmony Center for Women 381 Deerfield Road Boone, NC 28607 828-268-8970 Davant Medical Clinic 623 Chestnut Ridge Parkway Blowing Rock, NC 28605 828-386-3350 Baker Center for Primary Care 436 Hospital Drive, Suite 230 Linville, NC 28646 828-737-7711 Women’s Health Services in the High Country 828.414.1011| Historic Banner Elk School room 11| Weekly Classes | Kids Camps Goat Yoga| Meditations Private Lessons | Retreats Fundraisers |Paddle-board Yoga The Best Local Insurance Agency FORTNER INSURANCE AGENCY — 1919-2022 — Newland • Spruce Pine • Banner Elk • Burnsville THE BEST LOCAL INSURANCE AGENCY CITY • 000-000-0000 Find out how you can save money with Auto-Owners Insurance multi-policy discounts. Fall into savings... Visit our website at Carolina Mountain Life TM
86 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Indoor Air Quality Maintenance Ductless Systems 828-963-5962 Heat Pumps Furnaces Air Conditioning Serving Western NC with Excellence and Innovative Solutions Three NC Locations to Serve You: Linville • Winston-Salem • Lake Norman/Mooresville / 1600 Linville Falls Hwy, Linville, NC 28646 828-733-5842 Ask about 10% off your next repair call! n maintenance.It’simportanttokeepupwithroutine Aheatingmalfunctioncanbedangeroustoyourself,your family,andyourhome.n heatingOurteamoffers24/7emergency andcoolingrepairs.You’reAveryalwaysingoodhandswith Heating.

1/2 Off on clothing every Saturday! Donations welcomed. Pick up available for furniture and appliances Thank you for your continued support 828-262-5029

877 West King Street, Boone NC Open Mon-Sat, 9am-5pm


Furniture • Appliances Small Household Items • Books Clothing & Accessories
JanuaryFebruary March Monthy Deal Pay the Day Day of the Month = Price You Pay for 1 Month Membership Day of the Month = Price You Pay for 1 Month Membership Day of the Month = Price You Pay for 1 Month Membership One time fee $25 Joining Fee One time fee $25 One time fee $25 Total Price Day of the Month Day of the Month + $25 Day of the Month + $25 What Will You Do At The Y? Volunteer Connect With Friends Learn to Swim Reduce Your Risk For Diabetes Lower Your Blood Pressure Let your kids play in the Child Development Center Try a Group Exercise Class Pay The Day Promotion for Carolina Mountain Life Magazine Readers How it works: The number of the day equals the amount you pay for that month Monday the 2nd = $2 for the month | Thursday the 19th = $19 for the month Call 828.737.5500 for more information Holiday Gifts / Cold & Flu Remedies 107 Estatoa Ave. Newland / 828-733-0061 at the Historic Banner Elk School We offer books to swap, magazines, WiFi, puzzles, book discussion groups, music jams, and children’s programs throughout the year. Stop by and see us this season! Open All Year Tuesday-Friday 10-4 Saturday 1-4 (May - October) Bring a Book, Take a Book For a full schedule of events, visit: Carolina Mountain Life TM Read us online at CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 87 Small Animal Medicine Surgical Services CO2 Surgical Laser Purina Pro Plan & Prescription Diets In-house Laboratory Therapy Laser Treatments Dr. Brent Jewell 828-733-9810 351 W. Mitchell Street Newland, NC 28657 Avery Animal Hospital
88 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE FORMERLY BURKE HOSPICE AND PALLIATIVE CARE & CALDWELL HOSPICE AND PALLIATIVE CARE WILL YOU PARTNER WITH AMOREM TO BRING more quality more compassion more support TO THE HIGH COUNTRY? YOUR GIFT IS AN ACT OF LOVE “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson 828.754.0101 l 1.844.4AMOREM WWW.AMOREMSUPPORT.ORG In 2021, the state granted AMOREM’s request to build a hospice patient care unit for residents of Ashe, Avery and Watauga. Learn more! Inpatient & outpatient rehab Customized skilled nursing 148949 Carewith compassion 828-898-5136 185 Norwood Hollow Rd. Banner Elk, NC 28604
MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 87 MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 89 Come spend the day! SHOPPING • DINING • BUSINESS • At the Corner of Hwy 105 & 184 Tynecastle Hwy. • Banner Elk Amy Brown, CPA Certified Public Accountant 828.898.7607 Avery County Chamber of Commerce “New Location” 828.898.5605 / Creative Interiors by Darlene Parker 828.898.9636 Encore Travel 828.719.6955 Hero’s Axe House 828-898-4376 / Highlanders Grill & Tavern Open 7 Days a Week 828.898.9613 Mother Ocean Market 828-974-2259 Peak Real Estate “New Location” 828.898.1880 Salon Suites at Tynecastle • SALON M 828.260.3791 Shooz & Shiraz A Shoe & Wine Salon at The Dande Lion Sky Mountain Nail Bar 828.783.9393 The Dande Lion Ladies Apparel, Shoes, & Accessories 866.222.2050 and 828.898.3566 Truist Financial 828-292-9219 / Valle de Bravo Mexican Grill 828.898.4949 Walgreens Pharmacy 828.898.8971 SPACE AVAILABLE! For Leasing Information Please Call 828.898.6246

Resource Circle: Reduce Household Hazardous Waste


No one wants dangerous, toxic substanc es sharing space with you and your family. But most of us are doing just that—shelter ing hazardous waste in our households.

According to the NC Dept. of Environ mental Quality (NCDEQ), household haz ardous waste (HHW) is defined as “hazard ous material that has already been used or can no longer be used.” Examples of HHW include home maintenance products (like paint, glue, and household cleaners), bat teries, nail polish/remover, motor oil, pesti cides, fertilizers, lighter fluid, spa chemicals, and pharmaceuticals, among others. All of us have purchased at least some of these prod ucts. And chances are we won’t use them up. In fact, NCDEQ data reveal that the average U.S. household generates nearly 30 pounds of HHW every year.

We may find it more convenient to sim ply keep these hazardous materials in stor age, believing that we’ll eventually exhaust our supply. Yet those partially empty bottles, cans, and bags are more likely to accumulate over time, or be disposed of in an unsafe way. Either scenario can put both human health and our environment at risk.

The good news is that we have some convenient options to reduce the amount of hazardous waste in our homes. For the HHW your household has already generated, consider gathering it up and taking it to an HHW collection facility, where it will be recy cled, or safely destroyed. Ashe and Watauga Counties have permanent facilities that ac cept nearly all forms of household hazardous waste all year long. Other counties may have temporary collection sites or special days in which they collect HHW.

In the future, consider some effective and safer substitutes to the poisonous, corrosive and potentially lethal substances that are so commonplace in our homes today. For a better understanding of the types of prod ucts that are considered hazardous, as well as ideas for safer substitutes, we’ve provided this helpful chart (adapted from NCDEQ re sources).

Take some time this winter to learn more about the products you purchase, and to sort through and dispose of those that are no longer useful to you. For more on HHW, visit and type in “HHW” in the Search bar.

90 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE

Local Community & Business News

Blue Shark Vodka Becoming a Favorite in the NC Mountains

With new distilleries opening across the state, there is one in particular mak ing waves from the coast to the mountains of North Carolina. Blue Shark Vodka is the shark that “doesn’t bite.”

Founded in Wrightsville Beach, this smooth spirit has made its way to area ABC stores, bars and restaurants. Beyond its taste, which has garnered national tasting awards, customers may spot the signature Blue Shark Vodka bottle on a bar—a hand-blown glass shark sits at the bottom of the bottle and glassblowers create the bottle around them. While all the bottles have the same general shape and size, no two handmade bottles are exactly alike.

The focus behind Blue Shark, according to founder Mark Bloomquist, was to create a spirit celebrating North Carolina ingredients while also creating aware ness of the unique sharks and marine life that make coastal areas thrive ecologi cally.

The brand launched in 2019 to early success before hurdling over supply chain shortages during the COVID pandemic as a fledgling company. But Bloomquist said that their team found a way to persevere.

“After spending decades in the water as a diver, I wanted to create something, along with my family, to share with the world and get the message out about how misunderstood sharks can be,” he said. “The blue shark is so incredibly docile and when you see them underwater they are magnificent. We knew we were starting to create something truly special with our shark concept, and then we found our hero ingredient—North Carolina sweet corn.”

Bloomquist and his daughter, Brooke, their master distiller, came across an heirloom variety of sweet corn in Polkton and crafted a vodka recipe around the ingredient. The farmer, “Farmer Jeff,” is still the exclusive provider for their vodka, even as it expands into South Carolina, Nevada and California.

Since launching, the vodka has claimed more than 20 awards at national contests for both taste and bottle design, including two back-to-back Platinum SIP awards medals in 2020 and 2021. The company also launched several other bottles in their line with unique artist-driven designs including a limited edition bottle by world famous ocean muralist Wyland.

Blue Shark also partners with The Atlantic Shark Institute each year for a shark tagging program, “Tag a Blue or Two,” sponsored by the vodka. A portion of pro ceeds from every bottle contribute to critical shark research. Shark populations, sadly, are dwindling. But scientists at The Atlantic Shark Institute believe gather ing data through shark tagging could help to pinpoint both the causes of this crisis and, thanks in part to vodka drinkers, a solution.

Visit to learn more. Available now at most North Carolina ABC stores.

Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge: Making an Impact and Changing Lives

The Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge (WFBR) mission is to create positive change for women and girls in the High Country through collective giving. The WFBR has been positively impacting our community through its grant-making initiatives since 2006. Over $1.9 million has been granted to local nonprofits and community-based organizations that develop and implement projects and programs benefiting women and girls in Ashe, Avery, and Watauga Counties.

Funds from the membership program and the Power of the Purse and Bourbon & Barbeque events support the annual grant-making process. Currently, over 80 members give annually to the membership program. The organiza tion is confident that this number will continue to grow as they work hard sharing their mission and changing lives.

Erin Brockovich was the guest speaker at the 2022 Pow er of the Purse Patron’s Party and Luncheon in late June. She delivered a powerful, entertaining, and inspiring speech to over 400 guests, using a creative word, “stick-to-it-iveness,” throughout her presentation. “The word aligns perfectly with our goals to remain determined and persistent in im proving the lives of women and girls in the High Country,” said WFBR organizers.

The 2022 Bourbon and Barbeque event was held in Sep tember, where seventy-five guests attended to celebrate men and women who support the WFBR mission. The suc cess of these programs and events will make it possible for the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge to grant over $225,000 to many deserving nonprofits for their 2023 projects and programs in the focus areas of Education, Human Services, Health and Wellness, and Empowerment. The 2023 grant ees were announced in mid-November.

Save the Date – Princess Sarah Culberson will be the guest speaker at the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge 2023 Power of the Purse luncheon on Thursday, June 15, 2023, at the Grandview Ballroom at App State. Learn more at www.

MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 91

Local Community & Business News

Key Club: Building Future Leaders

Last summer, a group of Avery County High School Key Club mem bers took a trip to Washington D.C. to participate in the Key Club Inter national Convention (ICON). With the help of the Kiwanis Club of Ban ner Elk and funding from a High Country Charitable Foundation grant, six youth, an advisor and a chaperone were able to represent the Avery community at our nation’s capital.

When the Avery High Key Club returned, the participants wrote about their experiences and what the opportunity meant to them. Fol lowing are excerpts from their letters:

“Attending ICON 2022 was an eye-opening experience for me. . . It showed me the power that Key Club has as an organization to change the world. On our first full day there we spent part of our morning packing hydration packs for the homeless population in D.C. Now to some people this may seem like nothing, but to the homeless people of D.C. it means so much. Watching how the Key Club International board members can pull together and do all of these amazing things gave me the inspiration to do the same. Seeing all of these like-minded individuals come together to try and help others can help inspire and give ideas on projects that we can do within our own small community.” – Katelyn Brewer, Class of 2023

“As cliché as it would sound, our time spent in D.C. came at a time when I really needed it most. . . I felt extremely disconnected from the world and struggled heavily with my identity and my role as a student. I began to rethink my entire future, a plan that has been in the works since I was in the sixth grade. However, after only one day at our convention, I immediately felt relief. I looked around and saw hundreds of kids who were just as stressed as I was, looking for a fun and engaging trip with their clubmates… For the most part, we all had similar goals…to keep member numbers on the rise, keep interests on service, and find new ways to serve. Not only did this trip make us realize that we lead by these acts of service, but we also lead by example. -Libby Powell, Vice President, Class of 2023

“As a student, I was able to learn some really good life skills, but as a leader, I was able to learn so much more about helping others, and how to show the community that students such as myself are able to do so much for others. One lesson that I learned while attending the workshops that were available for us was how to deal with difficult people. Sometimes, it is

hard to communicate with others, and other times, people just don’t want to listen to you. I learned in this workshop that more often than not, you just have to have patience with certain people and keep a lot of under standing in mind… I am planning on using all of the information I learned to help make a better and bigger impact on my community. –Kendall Clark, Class of 2023

“I was able to interact and meet people from different cultures and from different locations around the world. . . Although we were strangers in the convention we all connected through being involved in Key Club and through our mission to serve. We were able to share ideas with each other about how we can improve our Avery Key Club. . . I am excited to bring these new ideas to our members so we can grow while serving our com munity. . . As a Latina and a Key Club Officer, I want to ensure that every student feels welcomed to join us. It is very important to me to ensure that students feel represented and that I am a great encouragement for minor ity students to get involved…Avery County keeps growing and its diversity is increasing, so not only do I want to make all students feel welcomed, I also want to help people in our community feel welcomed. . . Overall, it was amazing to be in a space where everyone was so supportive, caring and motivated through service. . .This trip truly empowered me and my fellow peers. – Miyahualt (Miya) Estrada-Jimenez, Class of 2025

“Two of the workshops I attended were led by Howard Savage, the Director of Prevention and Education Programs for the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking (ICESAHT). The first work shop was about how to set and communicate healthy boundaries, and the second was about how to help others and be an ‘upstander’ instead of a bystander in difficult situations. These workshops meant a lot to me personally, but they also gave me an idea for a small service project that I could do… create, print, and hang flyers containing hotlines, information I learned from these workshops, and other resources that could help stu dents who are struggling. . .I think that easily accessible resources would be very helpful to people in these situations.” – Sage N. Turbyfill, Class of 2025

“One of the Workshops I went to was College 101, which explained how to get into good colleges, how to meet the requirements, and how to build a good portfolio for college. This workshop taught me some really important things such as being a team player and how Key Club is a great club to have on your file. . . I also went to a workshop that was called Pre venting Burnout. In that workshop we learned how to keep ourselves from running out of energy and burning out in the things we do. . . The time we spent meeting people and talking about how they help their communities was very fun and interesting.” – Alex Fay, Class of 2025

Jim Swinkola, the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk Foundation Chairman, added, “This learning/improvement adventure would not have been possible without the generous financial support of the High Country Charitable Foundation.”

Key Club Members

Happy 10th Anniversary to Linville Falls Winery

Ten years ago, I was assigned a CML story about the opening of a new Linville Falls winery. I was to meet with the founder, Jack Wiseman, to gather info and I had brought along a list of questions. Before beginning the interview, Wiseman sat us down at his kitchen table, brought out a bottle of homemade “Cherry Bounce”—a spirited cherry wine first made famous by President George Washington—and poured us both a small glass. “Whatdo-ya-think of that?” he asked with a smile in his eye. “That’s one of the new wines we’ll be featuring at our Linville Falls Winery.”

Within minutes, I’d tossed my questions aside and hurriedly took notes while Wiseman told me a fascinating story about his life and how it led to his new winery. Wiseman was a spry 80-yearold fellow back then who still had the spirit and imagination of a 25-year-old entrepreneur. I discovered that he’d grown up in Spear, NC, and first learned winemaking at the age of eight from his Grandma Wiseman.

From that day forward—through his Korean Army service, to his commercial cleaning business in Charlotte to his helping launch our Fraser fir Christmas tree industry—Jack Wiseman always carried the dream of starting his own winery right here in Avery County.

That winery opened its doors on Thursday, October 11, 2012, with six wines: two whites, two reds, a Blueberry and, of course Wiseman’s own Cherry Bounce. Ten years later, it has become one of this area’s premier wineries, a founding member of the High Country AVA (American Viticultural Area), a major High Country tourist attraction, and now offers over 20 premium wines, including Wiseman’s recent birthday brew called “Ninety,” and the newest, “Jack’s Cherry Bounce”—an even more spirited version of the original.

Recently, I was invited to reminisce and celebrate my 10thyear meeting with Jack as he poured us both a small glass of the new Cherry Bounce. At age 90, Wiseman is as spry as ever. And Linville Falls Winery remains a true family operation that overflows with friends, fun, live music and some of the best wines anywhere.

Happy Birthday and 10th Anniversary, Jack!

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 93
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Ounce of Prevention National Ski Patrol


Welcome to the North Carolina High Country! Whether you are a resident or a visi tor you will find the NC High Country to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. This holds especially true for those like myself who enjoy our mountains during winter months.

Our area is blessed with three beautiful and fun ski slopes that allow for easy access to winter snow sports. As visitors and locals alike enjoy these facilities, safety and inci dent response at each of our resorts must be accounted for. This is where members of the National Ski Patrol come into play.

The National Ski Patrol was founded in 1938 by Charles Minot “Minnie” Dole. Since its founding, the National Ski Patrol has grown to over 30,000 patrollers and 650 different patrols throughout the nation. I want to take this opportunity to give some insight into the duties of our local ski patrols and why they are so important. I want to also provide you the path if you are interested in becoming one of our heroes on the snow.

Just like the resorts themselves, each local ski patrol operates independently. The three patrols of Appalachian, Beech and Sugar mountains make up the Blue Ridge Region, which is part of the Southern Division of Na tional Ski Patrol. This network allows for direc tion from the National office down through to the individual patrols, but also allows for in dependent operation that is tailored to each resort’s unique needs.

Each ski patroller receives training in Out door Emergency Care (medical) as well as training in skiing, toboggan handling, chair lift evacuation and a vast array of additional safety related topics. The National Ski Patrol qualification levels are candidate (for new pa trollers), auxiliary for those who specialize in medical care, basic for those who have met the requirements for both medical and tobog gan handling, senior for those who have taken their basic skills, strengthened and refined them, and lastly certified for those who show a mastery of these skills and more.

After receiving training, an active ski pa troller will work several days a year at their “home” resort. While some qualified patrollers will develop their hobby into a part-time ca reer—called pros—most of the patrollers you

will encounter on the local slopes are volun teers. These volunteers will spend hundreds of hours each winter helping to provide both an enjoyable and safe environment for the skiing public.

Joe Donadio is the Patrol Director for the Appalachian Ski Patrol and the Professional Director for the Southern Division of the Na tional Ski Patrol. In his 35-plus years of service Mr. Donadio has worked to make Appalachian Ski Patrol a strong and cohesive unit. In talk ing about the strengths of current patrol members, Mr. Donadio says, “Our Patrollers are EMTs, Paramedics, Rescue Technicians, Fire Department and Law Enforcement Per sonnel, if not before they become Patrollers, soon thereafter. Patrollers are now taking the necessary skills that we acquire through NSP training and incorporating them into profes sional fields that serve within our local com munities. We are not only Ski Area employees, we are service driven professionals who con tinue to meet the demands of an ever chang ing society, as well.”

A normal day for a ski patroller begins with first tracks! “First tracks” is what it sounds like—ski patrollers make the first tracks in the snow of the day. While this sounds like fun (it is a little), there is plenty of work to do. The en tire skiable area must be checked for hazards. These hazards must be removed or reduced before the resort can open to the public. After the resort opens for the day, the patroller will ski with the public, making sure to monitor for any additional hazards and changing condi tions. The entire time the patroller is working they must be prepared to respond to any re ported accident, injury or medical condition that occurs on the resort’s property.

There are days when the ski patroller will spend a good portion of the day in the first aid room attending to injured and sick guests. While these days do happen, especially dur ing high skier traffic times such as weekends and holidays, there is still plenty of time spent outside on the slopes skiing with the public and/or training to improve your skills.

Each fall, patrol members spend several hours refreshing and improving their medical skills online at the National Ski Patrol’s learn ing center. Additionally, each patrol will hold

an in-person refresher day that everyone on the patrol attends to hone their medical and rescue skills under the qualified leadership of the patrol’s medical instructors. This is usu ally a long, but fun, day as we get to see old friends (more like family) who we haven’t seen since the end of the previous March.

So, why do people become ski patrollers? Joe Donadio believes “it is the love for skiing/ boarding combined with a desire for helping others. It is the bloodline of every National Ski Patrol member.”

Additionally, Mr. Donadio goes on to ex press what 35 years with National Ski Patrol has meant to him: “Family, camaraderie, and friendship have driven my Patrolling career. Throughout different aspects of my life, the ups and the downs, our Patrol has always been a constant for me. Ski Patrol has grown from a part-time hobby into a year round pro fession for me. I enjoy the family diversity with the many different challenges of Patrol leader ship that I experience every season.”

What is the first step if you are interested in becoming a local ski patroller? It’s pretty sim ple, really. Reach out to one of the three local ski patrols and fill out an interest card. At App Ski Mtn., once this is done you will be asked to come back to the mountain for a ski day with the Patrol Director or one of his Assistant Pa trol Directors. If your interest is still there, and you are approved by the Patrol Director, you will begin your training the following summer by taking the Outdoor Emergency Care class. This course in the foundation for the medical skills used by patrollers throughout the ski season. Once you pass the OEC course, you will begin resort-specific training on the snow as a Candidate Patroller.

As you can see there is a lot that goes into providing rescue, emergency medical care and a safe skiing environment on our lo cal slopes. If you have interest in joining the National Ski Patrol, please reach out to one of your local patrols. We are always looking to foster interest and strengthen our patrol.

I hope to see you on the slopes this winter!

94 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE
Frequent CML contributor Michael Teague is the Assistant Chief of the Boone Fire Department and a member of the National Ski Patrol. Members of the Appalachian Ski Patrol participate in the annual skills training refresher. Patrollers train on airway management and oxygen use. Patroller Dee Thomas, Beech Mountain

Common Ground…

In pursuit


College years can be tough on students in many ways and especially when it comes to welcoming lifestyle diversity along with peer and institutional accep tance. Unfortunately, issues of faith, gen der identity or sexual orientation are some of the areas where differences can foster alienation and a tendency toward social “exclusivity,” making it increasingly diffi cult to find a common setting for support ive communication.

However, there are community leaders, like Reverend Ted Henry, Paster of Banner Elk’s United Methodist Church (UMC) and Chaplain of Lees-McRae College (LMC), who, at the inspiration of a small handful of students, helped take steps to create a place for embracing student di versity and promoting positive outcomes. That safe place is an organization called Common Ground and it is located in the Historic Banner Elk School building.

Common Ground is a 501 (c)3, nonprofit organization founded in 2015 and currently under the auspices of Banner Elk UMC operated by a Board of Direc tors. It is a Registered Student Organiza tion (RSO) with Lees-McRae and, as of last year, has become an official part of the Wesley Foundation of the Methodist Church with plans next year for its own nonprofit status under the larger umbrella of the United Methodist Church.

From humble beginnings in a rentfree, unheated classroom and/or the LMC Alumni House to the more comfortable rented quarters in the historic school’s “Lucky 7” classroom, Common Ground has gained strong student popularity and wide community support.

As Reverend Henry explained, “Com mon Ground is a place for a diversity of students to come together, do homework, enjoy fellowship, have group discussions,

play games, watch movies and, in times when the internet doesn’t function well on campus, students can utilize the internet in our space. For some it’s become a safe hangout and sort of home-away-fromhome.”

Additionally, it brings students togeth er to help with local service projects for organizations such as Grandfather Home for Children, The Crossnore School, the Avery County Weekend Backpack Food Program, Feeding Avery Families, and Hospitality House of Boone.

Along with acceptance issues, there may also be cases of alcohol and drug abuse, or sexual and family violence. In those situations, Common Ground refers such cases to the Lees-McRae Counsel ing Office. And, when the college becomes aware of students dealing with spiritual and religious abuse or struggling with faith issues, the Counseling Office will typically refer those cases to Reverend Henry.

Weekly group meetings are on Thurs day evenings and have grown in atten dance and diversity over the years. “We have students who are Jewish, Latter Days Saints, atheist and agnostic, and through Common Ground I can make connections (with each of them) and offer a listening non-judgmental ear,” Henry noted. “This year we are averaging 20 students each week. So far, our high has been 31 and our low was 14. Common Ground is also a place for me to connect with students I might not be able to connect with as the Pastor of a church or as the Chaplain of the college leading a Sunday night Bible study on campus,” he added.

But the reasons for Common Ground’s growing success are always best stated by former LMC students:

“Pastor Ted and Common Ground is how I survived college. They gave me a small escape and a place to always be myself and have no fear of being judged in any way. A part of me wishes I had just one more year at school to be able to stay at Common Ground just a little bit longer. Common Ground will always have a place in my heart.” (Ellie Eyerly)

“For me, Common Ground has been an incredible resource and space. It has been decorated in a way that utilizes student voice, heightens collaborative discussion, and priori tizes attendees’ stress levels for a relaxed envi ronment. Often, just knowing that one has a community of peers available makes the world of difference in emotional security.” (Thelma Tatiana Barraza)

“Common Ground has been a welcom ing community where I’ve always felt safe, comfortable, and supported. My favorite parts of the experience were game nights and vol unteering. I loved being able to create a com munity through fun and then give back to the community whenever possible. It was defi nitely a staple of my college experience.” (Dean Wheeler)

Generous donors have helped provide furnishings, a television, and a small refrig erator, as well as actual monetary donations to help pay rent, provide food and support events. In addition, as part of the Wesley Foundation, Common Ground receives a small amount of funding to further help cover rent and some programming. All do nations are considered tax-deductible as the law provides. To learn more and/or be come a donor, visit www.commonground

College years can be tough on students

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 95
“just as I am.”
. . .
Reverend Ted Henry, inspiring students

Families and people of all ages and circumstances are able to benefit from Freedom Life’s programs.


Programs to Combat Substance Abuse From Hopelessness to Hope

Feedom Life Ministries, an organization that helps rehabilitating addicts and criminal offenders proactively re-acclimate back into the community, is partnering with Avery County leadership to help serve our area’s needs.

What gift might be most valuable to you or a loved one this time of year? Something to enhance your personal, home, business, family, community or spiritual life? All of these have their place within the spirit of the season.

For way too many, the perfect gifts would be freedom from the mounting suf fering of addiction and hope for the brighter possibilities in the future. Freedom…from something that has an unyielding grip on one’s life. Hope…to replace hopelessness. These two gifts combined in one commu nity-wide initiative of care can be of im measurable value. Value for those people in Avery and surrounding counties suffering from addiction and, consequently, destined for some form of criminal involvement. And equally of value for their families and loved ones.

But sometimes it takes illuminating a few tough and sobering facts to inspire this type of community-wide initiative. Facts such as…

An alarming percentage of crimes and subsequent incarcerations can be character ized by involving some level of drug use and abuse. According to Mollie Furman, Pro gram Coordinator for and representative of Watauga LEAD (Law Enforcement Assist ed Diversion), a recent study by the Watau ga County Detention Center of 50 inmates who had been arrested three or more times in that county indicated that “ninety percent of random offenses could be linked directly or indirectly to substance use.” That statis tic reflects not only the extent of drug/sub stance abuse-related incarcerations but sug gests a pattern of repeat criminal offenses and resultant inmate recidivism.

According to Avery County Sheriff Mike Henley, “The number of local jail inmates who are connected to either drug abuse or other drug-related offenses may average around 40 percent. Other surround ing counties may report similar or, in some cases, higher averages.” Henley also notes that those rates were measurably higher during the peak COVID pandemic period for a myriad of obvious reasons regarding both economic and mental health factors.

Another core issue of increasing concern is the type of drugs in circulation and in use. Opioids—both prescription pharmaceutical and illicit—rank at the top of current na tional drug trafficking, use and abuse statis

tics, with various forms of fentanyl rising to the top of the list. Those drugs are generally smaller, thus easier to manufacture, disguise and package in large quantities. They are also increasingly fatal, even with only limit ed use. And the major drug cartels in Mex ico, China and India have long since found access via the main U.S. trafficking channels.

Most alarming is the fentanyl factor. Specifically, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more so than morphine. Currently, it is the deadliest drug facing the nation and a rising threat in the High Country.

These statistics represent the sad reality that no community—large or small; urban, suburban or rural; north, south, east or west; or of any cultural, political and economic status—is free from this problem.

As Avery County Manager Phillip Bar rier, noted, “For any type of drug crisis, pre vention and rehabilitation to work, it’s going to take the entire community working to gether as a single organized team. We have many great local agencies and organizations to draw from. But, in the past, they’ve been limited to what they can do from their indi vidual silos of influence.”

Now here’s the good news: The Avery Country Drug Crisis Roundtable—along with its affiliated law enforcement and

Completing GED certification and training in new job skills goes a long way towards becoming self-sufficient and a productive member of society.

community organizations—are pulling to gether in a broad and comprehensive effort to tackle and produce positive outcomes for the Avery drug addiction problem and for the community at large.

Led by Avery County Manager Bar rier, regular Roundtable meetings have as sembled an impressive group of area leaders in the fields of drug addiction awareness, treatment (including structured availability of NARCAN for emergency drug overdose use), rehabilitation, mental health, spiritual support and re-entry into the community as productive citizens. And, with the ben efit of a first payment from the county’s $1,713,063 opioid settlement fund, Avery has been able to make concrete commit ments to furthering their drug crisis plans and programs.

Several of the participating groups in clude the local Health Department, Can non Memorial Hospital, Alcoholics Anony mous, Daymark Recovery Services, Vaya Health, and Celebrate Recovery (a Heaton Christian Church ministry), along with other local church and civic services, Avery County’s commissioners and contributing support from neighboring county groups. (A full list of local services can be found near the bottom of the Avery County gov ernment agency’s home page at www.avery; click on the “Know Someone

Who Needs Help Fighting Addiction?” link.)

One specific neighboring county orga nization called Freedom Life Ministries out of Marion, NC, in McDowell County has become a model for what is being named Freedom Life Avery. “We heard about their successful program and are very pleased that we will be their first stepchild, so to speak, with a Freedom Life branch here in Avery County,” noted Manager Barrier. “And our new Director for this operation will be Milana Ward.”

With this template as an organizational model for Avery, a next step is the creation of a place to help rehabilitating addicts and criminal offenders proactively re-acclimate back into the community. As Barrier has emphasized, “We can offer some support while a person is incarcerated. But, as soon as they are released, that’s where drug/ criminal rehabilitation can fall apart. We need a follow-up and follow-through plan or that person is left out in the cold with no bridgeway to help them work their way back into society. So, we applied for and re ceived a community development “re-entry housing” block grant with the help of the High Country Council of Governments.”

A comprehensive construction, budget ing and long-term funding plan are in place to work in partnership with the county’s

Freedom Life Avery program to staff and operate an Avery County Re-entry House for short-term housing on Mollies Branch Road occupying a portion of the old State of North Carolina Prison camp property. Along with providing safe housing and ac cess to various community support services, Mayland Community College will offer help with obtaining GEDs, resume prepa ration and job search assistance.

To state the obvious, helping someone transform their behavioral patterns from destructive to constructive and from hope lessness to hope is a combined win/win for the individual and their community, and far less costly to a community than an end less cycle of repeat offenses and incarcera tion. That win/win, as they say, “is the gift that keeps on giving.” And that gift is the goal and commitment of our Avery County Drug Crisis Roundtable, its Freedom Life Avery operation and their many affiliated community groups. The gift of hope…in the true spirit of the season.

hope CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 97
Emily Capps, Daymark Director / Phillip Barrier, Avery County Manager / Samantha Knight, Avery County Paramedic Photos byWJS Creative Group via Freedom Life Ministries. Freedom Life Ministries helps train their staff to serve both their rehabilitating clients and their local communities.

Romeos and Juliets

Doesn’t the mention of these names bring thoughts of undying love to your mind? Two of Shakespeare’s most famous characters loved so passionately that they were willing to die for that love. To be named a Romeo or a Juliet is to be complimented on your loyalty and love for your spouse. While this is often true, there is another meaning which can be attached to those time-worn names in today’s era. ROMEO is the abbreviation for Retired Old Men Eating Out. Yes, we have a great number of ROMEOS here in these mountains. And what about Juliet, you ask? Our JULIETS represent Just Us Ladies Informally Eating To gether.

We will no doubt see many ROMEOS and JULIETS soon through the holidays and into the New Year. We JULIETS of a certain age are exhausted from the tasks required of us to ensure everyone’s peak experiences through the holidays. Many of us still welcome our families home during this time of year. How wonderful! Yes it certainly is, IF you are not too exhausted to enjoy the family time. The clean ing, straightening, decorating, wrapping pres ents, buying groceries, and making everyone’s favorite holiday dish often leave us overtired for the arrival of family and the much-awaited celebrations.

Even if your family has begun the tradition of celebrating at your children’s homes, much is still required of the cherished matriarch. I can just imagine the conversations at the homes of our adult children…

“It will be so much easier on Mom and Dad this year since everyone is coming to our house for the holidays. I’ll tell her to bring her famous (insert labor intensive dish here) and that will make her feel better about coming to our house. Oh and I think I’ll ask her to bring (another labor-intensive dish) because I don’t think I will have time to make that and now that she is retired she will have more time to make it.”

“Good. Are we going to have __ this year?”

“No. I thought I’d make __instead.”

“Oh. OK.” (obviously not thrilled with the menu change).

“Well if you really want that I guess I could ask Mom to make it and bring it with her.”

“Yeah. She likes to make it. “

It is truly wonderful to be appreciated and invited to spend the holidays with our busy adult children. And to have our family tradi tions observed by our adult children make us feel validated as older parents. Perhaps the key element here is time. While it is true that as retired folk we have more available time, it

also takes us more time each year to complete the same tasks. As a young mother I recall vis iting my parents for the holidays and noticing that my mother retrieved many of our favor ite dishes from her freezer, even her famous homemade chocolate cake. Now I understand that she began her holiday cooking weeks in advance and in doing so expertly budgeted her energy for family time.

Please don’t misunderstand my sentiment here. The holidays are a joyful time. The days are full of love and memory-making. However, the holiday cooking whirlwind may disrupt a household’s eating routine. There is no time for regular meals when the oven is being used to bake holiday goodies.

After all the holiday gatherings, we may desire a bit of informal time, a.k.a. down time. We may need a break from meal planning, cooking and “closeness,” even from our Rome os. Time with girlfriends to swap stories of inlaws, grandchildren, and children is just what is needed. Each chapter of life holds its own pleasures, as well as responsibilities. This truth is explained excellently by a friend of mine who recently told her husband of many years: “Robert, I married you for better or worse, but not for lunch!”

98 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE
Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Want
CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 99 See the beauty. Taste the tradition. Feel at home.
Main Celebrating 27 Years! Family Owned & Operated “Simply Great Food” Salads • Pasta • Hot Sandwiches Italian Pizza • Calzones • Desserts All ABC Permits – Carry out available –Intersection of Hwys 221 & 181 2855 Linville Falls Highway Pineola, NC 28662 (828) 733-1401 (828) 265-7591 10543 Highway 105 South suite 2 Banner Elk, NC 28604 Tea Room | Cultural Gifts Store | Healing oils | High end crystals | Soaps
Restaurant: 828-295-3466 Serving Dinner Inn: 828-295-9703 Music on the Lawn Fridays May–October
100 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Award Winning Craft Beer brewed in Downtown Boone, NC with water from the headwaters of the New River Visit our 2nd location Lost Province at Hardin Creek Brewery & Taproom Now Open . 828-387-4209 Fresh Ingredients | Handcrafted Dough ~ #1 Caterer in the High Country ~ JERKY • SEASONINGS • HOT SAUCES Open Daily in Historic Valle Crucis & Tanger Outlets, Blowing Rock 828-260-6221 | 8 2 8 4 1 4 9 9 9 0 8 9 6 0 V a l l e y B o u l e v a r d B l o w i n g R o c k 2 8 6 0 5 w w w w h e e l i e s r e f r e s h e r c o m N O W O P E N ! N O W O P E N ! D r o p i n t o W h e e l i e s t o e n j o y f u n , f o o d a n d c o m m u n i t y w i t h a m a z i n g v i e w s !

Fit to a Tea All Winter Long

The wind whirs across the ridge and I think I see the bejeweled wings of a departing Indigo Bunting flash my window, or maybe it was the steely blue neck of a Blowing Rock barn swallow. I doubt it was a mirage in the sky. The heavens are not azure today, but a soft beige-gray, the multigrain shade of my fave sourdough bread from Stick Boy bakery in Boone that I’m pressing into an applewoodsmoked bacon and caramelized-onion panini for lunch. Cicadas are past their months-long mating cacophony, eclipsed by a wintry ‘si lence’ I’m hearing through the leafless trees. I’m also feeling something—cold—so I gath er leaves—the brewing kind—bound for a whistling tea kettle. There’s only one thing to do to balance cold-weather sensitivities. Have a cup of hot tea!

It wouldn’t be hard to find someone eager to join me. Tea is continually ranked as the most consumed beverage in the world. From ‘whole’ leaf loose teas to crushed herbs, or so-called ‘tea dust’ teabags, tea is widely accessible and affordable to all, and with unlimited choices, there’s something for every taste.

Tea, with its naturally occurring amino acids, lifts melancholy moods, releasing

energy slowly without a caffeine crash, just one of many reasons it’s so desired. Bud dhist Priest Eisai, who brought tea to Ja pan in the 12th century, summed it up this way: “Tea has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete.”

Traditional teas (black, green, oolong, white, pu-erh) are from the Camellia si nensis plant, but taste different depending on how they are harvested, cured and pro cessed. Today though, also under the head ing of what is tea, are beverages steeped in hot water with dried botanicals and other earthy ingredients.

Tea-riffic Places to Tea Off

The High Country has many places to buy packaged or grab-and-go teas, includ ing at coffee shops like Kovu’s, where they whisk Matcha tea and whip up chai tea lattes in their cozy cafe rooms in Boone. A charming wood-shed cafe at The Lavender House in Valle Crucis serves hot teas be ginning in spring, brewed with herbs from their garden. A dedicated tea truck, Boba Bing, at 626 NC Highway 105 Bypass in Boone, offers the wildly popular bubble tea, of black or green tea and cassava tapi oca pearls.

A sensual experience greets shoppers at The Spice & Tea Exchange in West Jef ferson and Blowing Rock. Aromatherapy scents of baking bread, toasting muffins, and musky burning pine drift from some 90 tea blends, hand-scooped by weight. Winter comfort teas have arrived, includ ing: Warm Bread Pudding, Red Hot Toddy, and for winter ailment woes there’s Honey bee Ginger Elixir Tea.

At Banner Elk Cafe and Lodge, an Earl Grey caramel latte is served with gourmet flavors such as African Solstice or Raspberry Nectar. It’s a full tea menu that many res taurants are now adopting in response to a public reportedly no longer wanting just one or two tea options when dining out.

Steep Thoughts at a Mountain Tea Room

Tucked into the shadow of Grandfather Mountain in Foscoe is a distinctive Britishinspired cafe, the Appalachian Apothekary and Tea Room. Tea-goers are pampered at linen-topped tables with crust-less tea sandwiches, fruity scones, petit fours, bis cuits, buns, and cakes. A tea-of-the-day is blended by Anne Whitton-Bolyea, who

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 101
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opened the tea room last spring; and al ready it can be hard to get a reservation.

The tea room boasts more than 30 hand-crafted teas, such as Banana Waffle, White Strawberry Basil, and Tea of Love! Don’t leave the tea room without a sack of cold-weather-busting Banner Elk Winter Tea made with rose hips, or the tea room’s creamy App State Football Tea with a spicy kick!

Tea guests can spend up to two hours here, as I have a few times, taking a pause to live in the moment with a little less control, and feeling good about that es cape, thanks to my time-out with tea and, as Bolyea adds, “the fellowship that it all brings.” A 1992 religion and philosophy graduate of App State, it’s how she defines the tea room, which also includes muse um-quality crystal rocks, mixed tinctures, and soothing healing oils. Bolyea guides shoppers as an apothecary of sorts (with a k) and that is symbiotic with the tea room in a way. Holding a crystal, for instance, is not unlike holding a cup of tea in how they both evoke contemplation.

If Teacups Could Talk …

... and they do, with functional teas like Locally Good Farm’s Mama-To-Be Tea (in Burnsville, and at the High Country Food Hub in Boone); The Lavender House’s Tummy Ease and Joy in a Cup Tea of rose petals, mint, lavender, and other flavors,

available in winter at Hatchet Coffee, Stickboy and Wildwood Market (all in Boone); and Devorah Chocolate’s Cacao Tea (in Boone, and at the High Country Food Hub).

Medicinal herbal teas offer health ben efits such as flavonoids that claim to fight inflammation and buoy the immune sys tem. The antioxidant-rich Yerba Maté teas combat depression and anxiety, and may be mixed with fruit juices in cans like En lighten Mint and Bluephoria—big sellers at Earth Fare in Boone. Kombucha tea is available from Boone Booch, a craft Kom bucha maker in Deep Gap that makes this popular fermented tea with a refreshing and effervescent zing from holy basil, el derberry, and ginger.

The choice of how to drink tea goes from pinky-pointer china cups to insu lated thermoses, depending on need, such as in winter, when a thick pottery or ce ramic mug might be caressed to warm chilly hands. One such that goes the dis tance is the Handwarmer Mug from Mast General Store (Boone and Valle Crucis); it hugs fingers and palm like a mitten when a hand is slipped into a left or right molded pocket. Every tea-lover needs one of these!

The Land of Milk and Honey Tea connoisseurs spout this adapted Bible phrase referring to how tea’s acid ity is assuaged with add-ins: milk, honey,

sweeteners. It’s also the name of a fam ily livestock farm in Deep Gap, supplying honey and baked goods including vanilla/ chocolate swirled marshmallows (at Food Hub) that melt in hot tea. Be Natural Market in Boone has ginger or date syrups for only a hint of sweet. If you add milk, Cheek Farmstead Creamery (produced in Ashe County) has an option for cream-top milk, also at Be Natural, Food Hub, and J&M Produce. This, or any whole milk added to tea, is delicious frothed.

Fun sugars are at The Spice & Tea Ex change: Rose, Salted Caramel, Mango Ha banero. If lemon with sugar is how you like your tea, spoon in the Lemon Sugar. If you wish tea tasted like coffee, it does when you stir in their Roasted (real bean) Espresso Sugar. The Exchange is also blending tea leaves with wine-grape skins for a Black berry Bordeaux Tea. According to Pinter est’s 2022 world-wide user poll, teas like this one—mixed as a mocktail or cock tail—are now looming large on bar menus for happy hour gatherings. But no matter where or when tea-time strikes your fancy, it’s always a happy hour—or two!

Gail Greco is author of Tea Time Journeys and Tea-Time at the Inn. Her newest cookbook, Afternoon Tea is the New Happy Hour, is pre-ordering on Amazon for release this April.

102 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE
Tea guests can spend up to two hours here, as I have a few times, taking a pause to live in the moment with a little less control, and feeling good about that escape, thanks to my time-out with tea and, as Bolyea adds, “the fellowship that it all brings.” Elegant offerings (including blue opalite healing stones) at Appalachian Apothekary and Tea Room
CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 103 SEASONINGS • FINE TEAS SUGARS • SALTS • SPICES • HERBS DOWNTOWN WEST JEFFERSON | 336.846.8327 Gifts They will Use! Gather for a Good Time! The Banner Elk Cafe and The Lodge Espresso Bar & Eatery Are Under One Roof! Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Daily Drink & Food Specials Expansive Menu Indoor & Outdoor Dining Large Bar with Comfortable Seating ...and a Warm Fireplace! Trivia | Live Music 828-898-4040 Schedule & Specials: Facebook, Instagram and at Located in the Heart of Banner Elk BA YOU µ High Country of North Carolina The Heart of T e x as The Soul of Louisiana in the Bayou Smokehouse & Grill Restaur ant Gener al Store Downtown Banner Elk (828) 898-TxLa (8952)

Louise Hatch’s Molasses Cookies


¾ cup sugar, plus ¼ cup additional to roll

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg

¼ cup molasses

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 TBSP ground allspice

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp black pepper


• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

• Cream sugar and butter until fluffy.

• Beat in egg and molasses.

• In a medium sized bowl sift to combine dry ingredients. Add to dough and mix well.

• Form into 1-inch balls—roll in sugar.

• Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

• Bake 12-15 minutes or until set.

“The molasses cookies have black pepper and it’s such an awesome kick. Most folks wouldn’t guess that secret. Louise Hatch lived next door. We went sledding in their backyard and she watched us from her kitchen and would give us warm treats.”

—Sallie Hart Williams

104 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE
Joan’s daughter
Photos by Meagan Goheen

Margaret Hart’s Gingerbread


1 egg

½ cup molasses

½ cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda ¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp cinnamon

1 TBSP ginger

1 ½ cups flour

½ cup boiling water

½ cup vegetable oil


• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

• In a medium sized bowl beat egg, then mix in molasses and sugar.

• Add in dry ingredients and mix well (batter will be thick).

• Add boiling water and oil and beat to a smooth consistency.

• Pour into a 9x9-inch greased pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Optional: Top individual portions with fresh or crushed pineapple while serving warm.

“Momma Joan would prepare gingerbread just in time for my nose to enjoy as I dropped my backpack at the door. The communion of delicious bread topped with pineapple lovingly served us both as an invitation for connection.”

—Anna Lisa Hart, Joan’s daughter and Margaret’s granddaughter

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 105
106 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE The best beer is an open beer. Mon.-Sat. 9-7:30, and Sun. 12-6 273 Boone Heights Drive, Boone, NC 28607 Across from the Wellness Center 828-262-5592 • Your LOCAL source for Organic & Fresh Foods, Bulk, Produce, Supplements and so much more! Let Us Shop For You! Website Curbside Pickup Monday thru Saturday “Just Be” Our 6th generation family farm makes farm- fresh cheese on site from our own happy dairy cows. Our farm store also offers other local goods! 828-756-8166 Fri-Sat, 10am-6pm, year-round 19456 US 221 North (.5 miles south of Linville Caverns) Marion, NC 28752 ...where everyday is a Farmer’s Market! Apples • Boiled Peanuts locally Baked Goods Moravian Pies • Local Meats Quiches • Cheese & Crackers Take & Bake Meals Artisan Crafts & Unique Gifts Christmas Wreaths Open Daily 10am-5pm – Yummy Weekly Specials –828.963.8254 Hwy 105 South, Foscoe NC owned & operated by LETT-US PRODUCE Wholesale Supplier of Fine Produce Est. 1993 • Boone NC
CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 107 ULTIMATE KITCHEN DESIGN We Make Beautiful Kitchens Affordable! 828-260-2592 Tuesday-Saturday Dine-In: 4pm - Close | TOGO: 4pm - 8pm 161 Howard Street, Boone 828-386-1201 | SUSHI BISTRO AND BAR And Now “Pedalin’ Pig at Woodlands” Blowing Rock
108 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Boone’s Donate-What-You-Can Community Cafe “Where Everybody Eats” 617 W. King Street Across from Mast Store Lunch Mon-Fri, 11-2 Apple Hill Farm Store “Get back in touch with what's real.” Largest selection of alpaca yarns & accessories in the High Country. Winter Hours: Wed - Sat 10-4; Sun - Tues by appt. Banner Elk, NC | (828)963-1662 CLOSE TO GOLF, HIKING, FISHING, WHITEWATER RAFTING, SKIING, BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY AND GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN. 828-898-4571 1615 Tynecastle Hwy (NC 184) Banner Elk 28604 / 3 meeting rooms convert to large ballroom Gadabouts Catering Variety of menus On and off site catering Newly renovated rooms Corporate Rates We’d Love to Host Your Next Event! Mountain Lodge
CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 109 Lunch: 11 AM to 3 PM. | Dinner: 5 PM to 10 PM. Sunday Brunch: 11 AM to 3 PM. 143 Wonderland Trail, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 / 828-295-4008 INTELLIGENT CHOICES FOR THE COMMON CRAVING 10 wonderfully comfortable bedrooms with evening turndown service Serving Dinner Tuesday - Saturday from 5:30pm - 8pm Reservations Required Dining & Cocktails Alfresco and the view... 202 Gideon Ridge Road, Blowing Rock, NC, 28605 / 828-295-3644 Gideon Ridge Inn AFTER ALL, LIFE IS SHORT AND TIME REALLY DOES FLY VISIT W ATERFRONT G ROUP W ATAUGA.COM VILLA NOVE — Fri., Sat., & Sun. 12-6pm WATAUGA LAKE WINERY — Thurs. 12-6pm, Fri. & Sat. 12-9pm, Sun. 12-6pm
112 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE 828-898-5550 344 Shawneehaw Ave. South, Banner Elk 2 0 2 2 Avery County’s Dining Catering • Dinner nightly from 5pm • Offering both indoor and outdoor dining • Live music Friday & Saturday nights • Private room available • Locally owned and operated • “Avery County Chamber Business of the Year” The High Country’s Premier Steak & Seafood Restaurant The High Country’s Best Choice for Event Catering 2 0 2 2 • Creativity, passion and culinary excellence • Parties of all sizes • In-home catering • Fully insured and licensed • Largest mobile kitchen in the High Country 828-898-5550 344 Shawneehaw Ave. South, Banner Elk
CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Winter 2022/23 — 113 Best DINING | CATERING LODGING | EVENT VENUE Lodging Event Venue The High Country’s Best Vacation Rentals The High Country’s Best Space for Gatherings 2 0 2 2 2 0 2 2 • One main lodge and three cabins with mountain views • 1-4 bedrooms available • Event barn, outdoor pavilion, open field, meandering streams, and ponds all onsite • Located in the heart of Sugar and Beech Mountains, with proximity to all High Country attractions • Pet-friendly • Vacations, weddings, family reunions, church events, and business retreats • Newly built barn with 1,700 sq. ft., and 18-ft. high ceilings • Barn equipped with a complete catering kitchen • Climate controlled barn • 1,750 sq. ft. outdoor pavilion with fire pit • Lodge and cabin rentals • Fields, streams, and ponds 828-898-3115 64 Cornerstone Cir, Banner Elk 828-898-3115 64 Cornerstone Cir, Banner Elk
The Village of Banner elk in the heart of Downtown Banner Elk, NC CHEF’S TA BLE ...showcasing Chef’s Table, “Banner Elk’s little hidden gem of fine dining.” Our Chef’s Table features gourmet fine dining with new tapas, sushi, cocktail menus, private dining, veranda, and VIP seating. Visit our website for our live entertainment schedules! The Village of Banner Elk has something for everyone’s tastes—traditional Italian, gourmet fine dining, and international cuisine. And don’t miss our famous Sunday Brunch at Sorrento’s Bistro! We have indoor and outdoor entertainment, stocked bars, a wine room, a cigar lounge, exclusive NFL and college sports viewing, private dining, art galleries, karaoke, a family-friendly arcade and Banner Elk’s best billiards! Call 828.898.5214 for reservations. Special Events & Catering: Corporate Events, Weddings, VIP Dining Parties Call 828.898.5214 | Email Sorrento’s Bistro | Chef’s Table | Barra Sports Bar | Arcade 140 Azalea Circle, Banner Elk, NC


Dewoolfson 3..................Dianne Davant Interiors 36 Doe Ridge Pottery 93 Elevated Metals 89................Encore Travel 8..................Engel & Völkers 106 English Farmstead Cheese 108 Erick’s Cheese & Wine 28................Explore Boone 100 Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria 108 FARM Cafe 6..................Footsloggers 85 Fortner Insurance 54 Fred’s General Mercantile 112..............Gamekeeper 109 Gideon Ridge Inn 93 Glen Davis Electric 115..............Grandfather Mountain 28 Grandfather Vineyard 77 Green Park Inn 36................Gregory Alan’s 46 Hardin Jewelry 85 Harmony Center for Women 27................Hawksnest Snow Tubing & Zipline 52 Hemlock Inn 89 Hero’s Axe House 70................High Country Care Givers 89 Highlanders Grill & Tavern 52 Hunter Tree Service 36................Incredible Toy Co 99 Italian Restaurant 112 Jack’s 128 Pecan 100..............Jerky Outpost 40 Kelle’s Krib 49 Leatherwood Mountains Resort 88 Life Care Center of Banner Elk 16................Linville Caverns 35 Linville Falls Winery 10 Linville Land Harbor 100..............Lost Province Brewing Company 66 Lovill House Inn 50 Lucky Lily 116..............Mast General Store 106 Maw’s Produce 12 Mayland Community College 89................Mother Ocean Market 50 Mountain Jewelers 26 Mountain Warriors UTV 36................Pack Rats


Peabody’s Wine & Beer 70 Peak Real Estate 107..............Pedalin’ Pig BBQ 87 Premier Pharmacy 87 Ram’s Rack Thrift Shop 100..............Reids Cafe 86 Root Down 53 Sally Nooney Art Studio Gallery 89................Salon Suites at Tynecastle 5 See Sugar 89 Shooz & Shiraz 46................Shoppes at Farmers 89 Shoppes at Tynecastle 16 Ski Country Sports 89................Sky Mountain Nail Bar 50 Skyline/Skybest 113 Sorrento’s Italian Bistro 106..............Stick Boy Bread Co 110..............Stonewalls Restaurant 110 Stonewalls Catering 24 Sugar Mountain Ski Resort 27................Sugar Ski & Country Club 50 Sunset Tees & Hattery 111 The Barn at Cornerstone 37................The Bee & The Boxwood 99 The Best Cellar 26 The Blowing Rock 49................The Cabin Store 35 The Consignment Cottage Warehouse 89 The Dande Lion 99................The Inn at Ragged Gardens 35 The Inn at Shady Lawn 40................The Schaefer Center Presents 103 The Spice and Tea Exchange 40 The Twisted Twig 5..................The Village of Sugar Mountain 16 Tom’s Custom Golf 89 Truist Financial 49................Turchin Center 107 Ultimate Kitchen Design 89 Valle de Bravo Mexican Grill 109..............Villa Nove Vineyards 46 Village Jewelers 89 Walgreens Pharmacy 36................Walker Center 109 Watauga Lake Winery 70 Wealth Enhancement Group 100..............Wheelies Refresher 87 YMCA of Avery County

thank you! OUR
114 — Winter 2022/23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFEE
27 Alpine Ski Center 22,23
Alpine Ski Shop at App Ski 88 Amorem 89 Amy Brown CPA 99................Appalachian Apothekary 74 Appalachian Blind and Closet 18 Appalachian Ski Mountain 85................Appalachian Regional Healthcare System 40 Appalachian Theatre of the High Country 85 AppFamily Medicine 108..............Apple Hill Farm 53 Ashe Chamber of Commerce 88 Ashe Memorial Hospital 87................Avery Animal Hospital 85 Avery Community Yoga 89 Avery County Chamber of Commerce 86................Avery Heating & Air 85 Baker Center for Primary Care 87 Banner Elk Book Exchange 103..............Banner Elk Café, Lodge & Tavern 86 Banner Elk Heating & Air 53 Banner Elk Realty 4 72................Banner Elk Winery & Villa 113 Barra Sports Bar 103 Bayou Restaurant 106
BE Natural Market 107 Beech Mountain Brewing 14,20 Beech Mountain Resort 108
Best Western Mountain Lodge 109 Bistro Roca 106 Blind Elk Tap Room 77................Blowing Rock Brewing 26 Blowing Rock Winterfest 60 Blue Ridge Energy 17................Blue Ridge Mountain Club 70 Blue Shark Vodka 70 Brinkley’s Hardware   112
Casa Rustica 7 Century 21 Mountain Vistas 113 Chef’s Table 52................Classic Stone Works 107 COBO Sushi Bistro 36 CoMMA 50................Compu-Doc 111 Cornerstone Cabins & Lodge 89 Creative Interiors by Darlene Parker 11................Crossnore Communities for Children 85 Davant Medical Clinic 2, 53

Folks come to Grandfather Mountain for all sorts of reasons — to get close to nature or simply get away from it all. But after a day on the mountain, and in the new interactive Wilson Center For Nature Discovery, everyone leaves inspired.

Get away from it all. Get Inspired. Wonders Never Cease GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN ®
NEW Wilson Center for Nature Discovery