Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's ski season, y'all

Sugar Mountain opened up for business last week, meaning we are thick into the ski season up in the High Country. The colder temps will make snowmaking possible, according to the Mountain Times.

Snowmaking began Sunday evening, Nov. 10, and continued until mid-morning Nov. 11. A brief warm-up shut snowmaking down for the day. However, the snow machines came back to life early Tuesday morning, as temperatures steadily dropped throughout the day. Overnight temperatures settled in the single digits at the summit and mid-teens at the base, creating an ideal snowmaking environment. Snow flurries also left a dusting of natural snow on Sugar Mountain.

But with the drop in temps come potential dangers. Be careful on the roads, folks, says the Watauga Democrat.

[I]f we can learn anything from the slick roads we encountered last week -- and the half-dozen or so documented accidents, roll-overs and delays those conditions contributed to -- it's the knowledge that we're not as prepared as we might be for black ice and winter driving. 
Much of that lack of preparation stems from not allotting enough time to arrive at our scheduled destinations when cold and wet road conditions come upon us unexpectedly. As a rule, it takes longer to get from Point A to Point B in January than it does in September.  
That's a rule we'll likely live by in a month or two, but for today, it's important to temper our more seasonal outlook with the remembrance that we've already shaken hands once with winter driving conditions.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A berry good time of the year

We will be heading up the mountain to 7D pretty soon, and perhaps the one thing my kids are most excited about is blueberry picking. We had a blast doing it last summer, and we will have with us this time someone with a plethora of blueberry-themed recipes. I fully expect our lips to be blue by the time we leave.

Naturalist Amy Renfranz recently wrote something for the Mountain Times about blueberries. You can read it in its entirety here. But it certainly got me (even more) jazzed about doing some pickin.'

The truth is berries are a plant’s way of taking advantage of an animal’s sweet tooth.  
The fleshy berry is a cover-up for the seeds inside. These seeds, hidden in the berry, are consumed whole by the fruit-eaters as incidental parts of the meal. ... 
Color as an indicator of ripeness is an interesting adaptation of the berry. Without it, berries might be eaten before the seeds inside are fully developed.  
Of course, even a slightly green berry can taste good if sweetened in a pie or cobbler.  
Have you had your fingers pricked by a blackberry bush this summer? Have you laughed with your friends while showing off your blue smile? Did you “ruin” your favorite shirt with a big purple stain? Good for you. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Yes, indeedy: a new park in the works

Here's the waterfall of Otter Falls Park. Photo courtesy of the Town of Seven Devils.

(Image from Town of Seven Devils)

The quality of life in Seven Devils is about to get even better -- if you can imagine it.

Week before last, the town received notice that it has been awarded a $135,000 grant to purchase pristine property for a new town park, which we mentioned a couple of months ago.

The land is a "wooded area with a stream and waterfall, known locally as Otter Falls Park, according to Town Manager Ed Evans."

The grant is for $135,800 and is contingent upon a 50/50 match with local government funds. The total cost of the acquisition is expected to cost $271,600 – that includes $265,000 for the purchase of the 9.78-acre tract and several thousand for due diligence such as an appraisal, survey and title search.

Clyde David Little is the seller of the property, which, according to a resolution adopted by the Seven Devils Town Council, has historical significance for its usage by Native Americans and for being a track bed for the original Tweetsie Railroad. 

Evans said that portions of the funds for the purchase of the property could come from a lender, general fund balance and/or donations. Before applying for the grant, Evans said citizens were asked how they felt about the project.

“Actually every comment, email and letter we received was positive,” Evans said. “That doesn’t mean there wasn’t opposition, but if anyone was opposed, they didn’t voice their opposition.

Residents were also asked if they were willing to donate funds and the majority of people expressed a willingness to contribute financially to Seven Devils first potential natural park area.

“We are hoping a portion of it can be funded through donations,” Evans said.Currently, the village has two tennis courts with a small playground nearby. That is the extent of the public land in Seven Devils. 

“That is one reason this is important to so many of our folks … This 9.78-acre parcel is the midway point in town. It’s all wooded, natural, has a small stream, a small water fall. It’s a very pretty piece of property,” Evans said. “In my opinion, it’s an ideal parcel to keep natural [with] trails.” 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Seven Devils' hummingbirds

I've said it before, but God bless Google Alerts. Without them, I would never have come across this 40-second clip of some hummingbirds in beautiful Seven Devils.

You never know what wildlife you'll see in the High Country: bears, snakes, chipmunks, wild turkeys ... and now hummingbirds.


Monday, April 1, 2013

A new/old park in the works?

The town of Seven Devils was not initially created to offer the standard "perks" of being a town. (Heck, it wasn't even conceived as a town but as a resort community.) But the town has changed its destiny over the years to that of a municipality. With that comes a responsibility to offer amenities, such as good roads, police protection and parks.

That's why it's nice to see Town Manager Ed Evans and his staff looking into the idea of finding land for new parks, according to the Watauga Democrat.

The town of Seven Devils is working to buy a nearly 10-acre tract complete with waterfall for use as a community park.
Town residents have been interested in the Otter Falls area for several years, but a previous attempt to buy it fell through. 
Now, the town is waiting to see whether a grant from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund will aid in the purchase of the wooded parcel, said Town Manager Ed Evans.
"I think everybody would enjoy having this as an area where they could walk and picnic and just enjoy the scenic beauty of the waterfall itself," Evans said.
The land is located off Lillian Drive in Seven Devils, about a mile from the Town Hall. A path guides visitors through the steep forest toward Otter Falls, which drops about 10 or 12 feet off a boulder as Valley Creek sloshes downhill toward Foscoe.
The town is asking for $135,800 from PARTF, to be combined with a local government match of the same amount. Seven Devils should know in late May whether the PARTF grant is awarded, Evans said.
Evans said he's heard from numerous community members who have indicated a willingness to make donations toward the town's match. The town also might consider a short-term loan to secure its amount.
If the PARTF grant is not awarded, the deal likely won't happen, he said.
"Coming up with the full amount, I suspect everybody would say, we're just not in a position to do that," he said.
While they're waiting to hear, residents are already discussing how the land might be used to complement the town.
Seven Devils currently has a public area with tennis courts and a playground. Bear Paw State Natural Area also pokes into the town, but the area is undeveloped, Evans said. Otter Falls would be unlike any other public space the town currently offers, he said.

Whether it happens or not, it's still nice to see that town leaders are trying to make the area the best it can possibly be.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hey, look! Snow!

Seven Devils, N.C., "enjoys" quite the range in elevation. This range results in some quite severe (for North Carolina, at least) weather patterns. It could be pleasant and nice in nearby Wilkesboro, N.C., yet windy, brutally cold and snowing up at Our Mountain Place, which is up near the top of Hanging Rock Mountain (and near Hawksnest).

Some good friends of ours stayed at the old Honey Bear House recently -- right when 7D was "blessed" with about 14 inches of snow(!).  Fortunately, this was good; our friends were up there to do some skiing. Hooray!

Anyway, this footage (from YouTube, not from our friends) doesn't really illustrate 14  inches of snow, but it does give a glimpse of what it would look like right around town hall.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Get your winter on

The good folks at VisitNC.com have put out a great resource on winter goings-ons in North Carolina. You can view it here. A number of the hot spots are in the N.C. High Country. Among them ...

Appalachian Ski Mountain
Blowing Rock 
Appalachian Ski Mountain dates back to 1962. The resort features 12 slopes, including three terrain parks, an ice arena, ski shop, gift shop, nursery and free Wi-Fi in its restaurant. Additional offerings include night skiing; ski, snowboard, skiboard, ice skate, helmet and clothing rentals; and group and private lessons.
Beech Mountain Resort  
Beech Mountain 
At 5,506 feet, Beech Mountain Resort is the highest ski and snowboard destination in eastern North America. In addition to day and night skiing and snowboarding, it offers two terrain parks, a 7,000-foot outdoor skating rink, gear rentals, private and group lessons, food, lodging, shopping and a nursery. The resort also features an adaptive learning center where volunteers teach children and adults with disabilities how to ski and snowboard.
Beech Mountain Sledding Hill
Beech Mountain
This free sledding hill is located next to the Beech Mountain Chamber of Commerce and Town Hall and features its own snowmaking machines. Open to children 12 and under. Plastic sleds and parental supervision required.  
Hawksnest Resort
Seven Devils 
Hawksnest Resort is a family-friendly winter area that’s home to the largest snow tubing park on the East Coast as well as the longest zip-line tour in the nation. The tubing park is comprised of four areas and more than 20 lit lanes ranging from 400 to 1,000 feet in length. The zip-line course features 19 cables covering four miles and is open year-round.
Sugar Mountain
Sugar Mountain 
Sugar Mountain features 20 slopes, 15 of which are lit for night skiing and riding. The resort also features the NASTAR public racing program, a terrain park, snowshoeing, snow tubing and ice skating at a 10,000-foot outdoor ice rink. In addition, Sugar Mountain offers equipment rentals, private and group lessons, food, lodging, shopping and daycare.