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Experience the Best of Winter in WNC By Colleen Watson Winter, that most generous of seasons … You see her coming in her white coat, slipping down the mountains, frosty tendrils following at her heels. The beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, lush and green in the summertime, are more silent now. Filled with campers, hikers, cyclists, rock climbers and a myriad of others, they are alive with activity during the season of light. But now, stark in their beauty, they only awaken for the songs of the winter birds and those avid nature lovers wishing to experience the rush of bright blue skies and views that go on for miles. WILDFIRES IN OUR FORESTS This year was a time of great destruction for the beautiful mountain forests. While the NC Nature Conservancy regularly conducts planned burns to keep the forests healthy and vibrant, this year saw uncontrolled devastation fueled by extreme drought over the summer and the build up of dense forest over the years. Climate change will continue to play a role as we see more and more extremes. Unbelievably, according to the US Forest Service, most of the fires in October and November of 2016 were believed to be human-caused. Due to the extreme circumstances caused by the lack of rain and other factors, they were difficult to 42 Fine Homes & Design | Winter 2017

control and extinguish. The toll to wildlife and the environment was inestimable! But while fires, particularly fires of this magnitude, always change the forest; they also open it up to new life, preparing it for renewal. The forests will return with new growth and wildflowers in the spring. And until then, even with the chill of winter, our milder climate welcomes its locals and tourists alike, offering activities for all ages. HIKING THE WINTER TRAILS OF WNC An abundance of great trails beckons nature lovers to hike the great outdoors and marvel at the beauty of this area. The majesty of the leafless trees creates sweeping views of the rolling mountains. Fewer hikers are out and about, so you can revel in the quiet solitude of a winter’s day. While sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway are closed in the winter, it can be accessed at many of its crossroads or at Asheville’s Folk Art Center. Closed sections can be completely cleared of snow and ice and can be a great place to hike (or bike). Continued on page 44

Fine Homes & Design Winter 2017  
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