We love the Smoky Mountains. Wish you were here!

Archive for January, 2012

For Local Artisan, One Good Turn Deserves Another

With chisel and lathe, Alarka woodturner Ron Thompson transforms chunks of wood into beautiful and functional household objects — from polished bowls to platters, boxes, toys, muddlers and spurtles.

So “what’s a spurtle?”, you ask. The Scots have had one in their kitchens for centuries — a decorative wooden rod used for stirring oatmeal and soups. And a “muddler” is a bartender’s tool, used like a pestle to mash — or muddle — fruits, herbs, and/or spices in the bottom of a glass to release their flavor. Well, you asked.

Like many area artisans, Ron sells his work primarily at craft shows and festivals, but also has items in Bryson City at The Cottage Craftsman. In May, the Marianna Black Library will showcase his work.

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Deep Creek’s Waterfalls Are Always In Season

Juneywhank Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Now that it’s too cold to swim or go tubing in Deep Creek, that’s no reason to stay away. The area’s three sparkling waterfalls are a treat any time of the year, and you can see them all in an hour’s walk from the trailhead parking lot. Because they’re on the main trail, Tom Branch Falls and Indian Creek Falls are the most-visited. But if you follow the short quarter-mile uphill trail to Juneywhank Falls, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful 80-foot cascade, a quiet out-of-the-way spot that has inspired numerous wedding proposals.

Deep Creek is one of the most accessible areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just two miles north of Bryson City. For more information on these and other area waterfalls, visit the Bryson City online visitors guide, GreatSmokies.com. Download a printable PDF map of Deep Creek’s trails and waterfalls.

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Leaving the Land of Sun and Sand… for Sun and Snow

In January, a lot of us dream of Florida’s sunny beaches. But for Floridians Kristian and Ingrid Yanez, a snowy Newfound Gap was their dream come true. Even with Saturday morning’s chilling 17 degrees atop the Smokies, sibling rivalry is rarely this much fun.

At 5046 feet elevation, Newfound Gap’s temperatures are usually 10º–15º cooler than Bryson City. And it receives much more precipitation, making it the best place to find snow. But before heading out, please check the road conditions.

For updated road and weather information call the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at (865) 436-1200. Once you hear a voice, dial extension 631 for road information or extension 630 for a weather forecast.

You can get that same information via the Internet by going to twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps to read recent road notification postings. This is a Twitter website maintained by the Park, but anybody can access it at any time without having to establish a Twitter account. The webpage is updated 3-4 times a week.

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The Nation’s Best Fly Fishermen Are Drawn to Cherokee

An angler nets a large trout during the “Rumble in the Rhododendron” fly fishing tournament held in late October. With $10,000 in prize money, the event was one of two major fishing competitions held in Cherokee’s tribal waters last year. The largest event was the U.S. National Fly Fishing Championship held in Cherokee last May — the first time the National event had been held in the Southeast.

This year, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Fish and Wildlife Management division and the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce have scheduled a total of eight major fishing events, beginning with the Shiver in the River Fly Fishing Tournament on Feb 3, 4 and 5. Held on the 2.2 miles of trophy, catch-and-release water on the Cherokee Reservation, the tournament has a $225 entry fee with $10,000 in prize money. Click for more information about all eight Cherokee fishing tournaments.

Each year, the EBCI Fish and Wildlife Management division stocks nearly 400,000 trout in the tribal waters, a stream system connecting 30 miles of freestone streams that include secluded forest settings, suburban road side areas as well as the center of the town of Cherokee.

Fishing in most of the Cherokee tribal streams requires a $10/day tribal permit for each person 12 years of age and over. No other fishing permit or license is accepted. Fishing in the “Trophy Waters” catch-and-release section of Ravens Fork requires an additional special use permit. Details, including information on multi-day and special use permits, can be found here.

For more information on fishing in the Smokies, including area fishing guides and outfitters, visit the fishing page at GreatSmokies.com.

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Happy New Year

Best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year from the Bryson City / Swain County Chamber of Commerce.

Above: the N.C. Clampitt Hardware Store — the county’s oldest continuously-operated business — and the century-old Swain County Courthouse building.

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