Smoky Mountain Historic Walker Sisters Cabin Closed To Public due to safety concerns. Built in the 1800’s the cabin was occupied by the Walker Sisters until 1964. The sisters were allowed to keep their childhood home for over three decades after the national park was established. The sisters home was often a destination for park visitors who continued there primitive and pioneer like lifestyle despite the dramatic changes in the world around them.
Park crews are concerned about recent movement around the chimney in the two-story cabin. Noticeable cracks and buckling around the stone masonry need to be repaired and stabilized to prevent further movement. The cabin is now closed to all use.
Smoky Mountain ice curls, whorls, tufts, feathers and mounds—all forms that natural ice can take on the ground under the right conditions. In an era of energy conservation, double-paned (or even triple-paned) windows, and thickly insulated homes and buildings — most of us no longer see ice in any of its patterns on our windows. But if you go hiking this time of year or even just venture into your backyard at the right time, you may well see ice curls.
Ice curls are varying shapes of ice that form on the ground under these conditions: typically a recent rain that has not been sufficiently absorbed into the soil, followed by a quick freeze, usually overnight. Our area is perfect for the formation of ice curls because our Tennessee red clay doesn’t absorb moisture very readily, especially when cold weather has made it even more dense than normal. Then, when a fast freeze occurs, the water left on the ground crystallizes into ice curls. The next morning as you are looking out your insulated window, these ice curls, which can take many shapes, may appear in the distance like tufts of cotton that, during the winter night, have miraculously bloomed in our yards, fields and woodland margins.
Often the ice curls wrap around blades of grass or the woody stems of other plants. In this case they appear like tufts or small white mounds—hence, their cotton-like appearance. But on closer inspection they are actually a collection of icy curls or feathers that have built on one another as the ground water gradually transformed into ice. Although less conspicuous, individual ice curls may also be seen on the ground. But it’s up close that the beauty of ice curls becomes clear—delicate, fragile structures of thinly formed, curling ice—nature’s own miniature ice sculptures, which disappear with just a touch from the sun!
So look for them on your winter walks. You’ll see them, especially in the mornings, after a recent rain or thaw followed by a quick freeze. Later in the day, if the sun has come out, they’ll disappear quickly in the sunny areas but will linger on in the shade. They’re worth your stopping and kneeling down to see them.
Ice curls can be found nearly anywhere from your backyard to the highest elevations in the Great Smoky Mountains. Mount LeConte is always a great place to find ice and snow this time of year. Meandering down any of the trails will afford a chance to find ice curls. Let’s get outdoors and see what we can discover!
HeySmokies.com is honored to have Carl Parsons as a contributing writer. Carl is Deputy Editor for Storyteller Magazine, a member of the Writers’ Guild of Sevier County, TN, and a Tennessee Master Gardener.
New Year beans and greens recipe, a Southern tradition.
New Year Beans And Greens Recipe. What is behind the Southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Years day? Some folks say the people in the South were once so poor that is all they could afford but we know the truth. First and foremost this perfectly combined dish is delicious! Second, Southern superstition supersedes even flavor sometimes. Eating peas represents good luck in the new year. It is said that diners should eat one pea for every day of the year. That is 365 peas y’all. The greens represent money, and who does not want some of that in 2019? Eating greens ensures that your coffers will be full throughout the year. There is only one thing this dynamic duo of flavor need to accompany them in our opinion – cornbread!
HeySmokies culinary factoid:Are peas beans? They are officially both legumes so tell us your decision on the HeySmokies Facebook page.
Cooking beans and greens is a simple task that everyone should try at least once. Here is our classic recipe.
The Geminid meteor shower will peak in 2021 on the night of Monday, December 13th and 14th. The Geminids are a reliable shower for those who watch around 2 a.m. local time from a low light environment. This year, a waxing gibbous moon, half moon, will be above the horizon during peak time for viewing. But it’ll set shortly afterwards, leaving the sky dark for watching meteors. Thus the best time to watch for Geminid meteors in 2021 is likely before dawn – say, from around 3 a.m. to dawn – on the morning of December 14.
Scenic Highway 129 starts in languid Chiefland, Florida, a far cry from the blue haze and cooler temperatures of the Great Smoky Mountains. Hundreds of miles from its inception, this iconic highway enters Tennessee west of the Smokies near the banks of Chilhowee Lake. The stretch of Highway 129 between Knoxville, Tennessee and Robbinsville, North Carolina winds through some of the best views and most exciting, motorcycle-friendly curves in the world in an 11 mile stretch known as the “Tail of the Dragon.”
Just before the start of the world-renowned “Tail of the Dragon,” drivers are treated to a stunning view of the majestic Tennessee hills rising behind Chilhowee Lake. Year-round, the blue of the water reflects the mountains in a display that makes drivers instinctively stop for photographs. The famous Foothills Parkway may be accessed to the left of Lake Chilhowee. This parkway offers stunning vistas, including some that span a hundred miles or more. There is no commercial development on the Parkway, which allows for the visitor to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature unfettered by urban clutter and noise.
In the few miles leading around Lake Chilhowee and prior to the start of the “Tail of the Dragon,” outdoorsy types can take a left onto Happy Valley Road and follow the signs to Abrams Creek Campground, a National Parks Service campground under the lush canopy of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Convenient to Look Rockand a variety of park-maintained hiking trails, Abrams Creek offers a great place to set up camp prior to enjoying the amazing “Tail of the Dragon” by car or motorcycle.
Motorcycle and sports car owners from all over the country pack this portion of 129, especially on weekends, three seasons out of the year, with a steady, but much thinner, stream making the drive in winter. The route, also known as Deal’s Gap, features a Harley Davidson store, other stops geared toward feeding and selling souvenirs to the cycling set, and at least three professional photography companies set up along the way, snapping away and then offering the weekend’s photographs for sale online.
The eleven miles of the “Tail of the Dragon” pack 318 curves with names like “Horns of the Dragon” and “Copperhead Corner.” Passengers are the only ones who can enjoy the view of surrounding forests and mountains as the road, while beautifully banked in the turns, forces the full attention of the driver. In the last ten years, 28 people have lost their lives in this short stretch, 27 of these were on motorcycles. This year, in the month of September alone, 177 traffic citations were issued and seventeen crashes took place. Sport bikers roar around Goldwing cruisers out for a Sunday drive. Sports cars of every make and model meet scooters and trikes, sometimes traveling in small entourages as friends make a special event out of the Dragon. The highway is alive with visitors with an appetite for fun.
The Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort offers motel and camping amenities on the North Carolina end of the Dragon, where 129 meets Highway 28. The resort, which also features a restaurant and store, is a hub of activity in every season except winter, when it is temporarily closed.
Check out this video of the world’s fastest rider, the Dragon Slayer, who is part of the USA129Photos.com Race Team!
If you choose to head south to Robbinsville, North Carolina as you exit the “Tail of the Dragon,” you’re in for a real treat. The community has a tucked-away feeling that makes one instinctively grab for real estate tracts. Lake and forest vistas and small-town charm foster a sense that all is right with the world. The Native American community of citizens in Robbinsville reminds the traveler that these hills have a history longer than our nation. The area around Scenic 129 has seen buffalo stampedes, British troops and Civil War intrigue and angst. It’s wonderful to know that the area is now devoted, by and large, to the joys of nature and the fellowship of family and friends.