Dwight Peck's personal website

Summer 2021

A photographic record of whatever leapt out at us

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Stalking a herd of waterfalls in North Carolina

Hendersonville, NC, and the DuPont State Recreational Forest

When the temperature hovers at 30°C (86°F) for a week, it's time to greet the summer with a road trip.

A reunion of librarians

Two former librarians from the last days of the real American College of Switzerland, now having a genuine Swiss raclette in Hendersonville and generally playing catch-up about the intervening years. One of them is happily still a librarian, the other is just a retired guy. [Photo by Martin]

We're just outside of Hendersonville, western North Carolina, a few miles from the South Carolina border.

The hike to the waterfalls

This is the Hooker Falls carpark, one of several, of the DuPont State Recreational Forest, formerly owned by the DuPont Corp and sold off in parcels between 1995 and 2000 when the company was ceasing its operations here. After a few years of conservation organizations and many citizens wrestling with some dodgy land deals and a tricky developer who promised to preserve the waterfalls whilst starting work on an exclusive gated community for the rich, including the waterfalls, Gov Jim Hunt and his administration invoked eminent domain, with vigorous resistance from Republicans, and purchased the waterfall areas of the forest at fair market prices as a recreational asset for the public. Public access was opened in December 2000.

So we're going to visit as many of these waterfalls as we can fit into one day (9 May 2021).

All of the falls we'll be visiting are along this twisty Little River as it winds down levels of the metamorphic rock out of the Appalachian higher ground.

The first falls, at the shortest distance from the carpark, are called the Triple Falls, for reasons which will soon become clear.

A Little River scenic view, quietly burbling along

That's not just burbling.

This is more like it.

Here are the Triple Falls, dropping 120 feet (37m) in three (3) stages.

Whilst marveling at God's scenic masterpiece here, we thought we overheard nearby conversations about kayaks and the right time of year for them, but we conclude that we must have got that wrong.

We're galloping onward, and upward, on a 'hiking path' newly graded for the safety and delectation of us, the waterfall viewing tourists.

Desperate to view the Triple Falls from a bit closer up, we scamper down this no-nonsense staircase . . .

. . . that takes us to a convenient spot for contemplating the top two of the Triple Falls, recalling that they were featured in the film The Last of the Mohicans (1992). And in The Hunger Games (2012).

The top two of the Triple Falls (no kayaks yet)

And downstream

If forced at gunpoint to choose, I'd forgo the kayak and go for a rubber barrel, one with Niagara credentials.

Very cool. We're cautioned by signs not to try bathing in the tempting swimming hole (we'd be at Myrtle Beach in half an hour).

Back up the 117 steps of the helpful staircase, and now we're about a kilometer farther up the trail, staring intently (most of us) at the High Falls, which is . . .

. . . a very scenic 125ft (38m) drop spreading out over a huge granite outcrop.

It's very nice, maybe slightly mesmerizing. One of the finest waterfalls in Transylvania County, NC.

A selfie coalition of the willing

Carrying on up above the High Falls, we're plodding determinedly (most of us) across the covered bridge on the Buck Forest Road across the Little River.

That's upstream from mid-covered bridge.

A kayaker's dream, one supposes

Gentler tributaries of the famous Little River

We've reconsidered our goals for the day and expanded them to include a walk for a mile or so along a gravel 'conservation road' towards the third of the most worthy waterfalls, the Bridal Veil Falls.

But first, along the shores of Lake Julia . . .

. . . a welcome relief from the 'conservation road', which is better suited to mountainbikes and official jeeps.

But half a mile up another trail, Martin impels us onward to the base of the Bridal Veil Falls.

It's another 120-ft waterfall over bedrock (and another Last of the Mohicans film setting; there's a 10-foot overhang at the top, we're told, where the film characters [probably Natty Bumpo and Chingachgook, I haven't seen the movie] climb in behind the waterfall to enter a cave; the overhang is there in real life, but no cave).

Candice and Kristin find the best viewing point.

Martin stretching out, presumably for our forthcoming descent back down the trails.

The bottom of the falls (no kayaks today)

We're preparing to start back down the trails. The Bridal Veil is an interesting waterfall, and probably very different in the different seasons, but it doesn't look compellingly like a bridal veil.

The so-called Bridal Veil from a little higher up the trail

The High Falls again, with the covered wooden bridge at the top of them

Back to the bottom near the Hooker Falls carpark; our trip has been estimated at about 7mi up and back, but there is another parking lot, the Fawn Lake Access, with a visitor's centre ('with toilets'), at the top of the falls with a 4.5mi level walk to the Bridal Veil Falls and back.

And just below the bridge at the Hooker Falls carpark there splashes the Hooker Falls, much less majestic, we've been told. Three out of the four, that's good.

But oh, what fun!

A brisk gallop up and down the Little River deserves a look-in at the Hubba Hubba Smokehouse, in Flat Rock, NC ('Wood-fired pit BBQ & other Southern comfort fare in the shady backyard of a country house').

They're back, and so are we. (Not all of us get all Pavlovian at the mention of 'BBQ', but the ham and cheese sandwich, speaking as a connoisseur, was above average, for sure.)

Early May, still a certain amount of social distancing. That's all to the good.

Back in The Lodge at Flat Rock, Melvin the Doge has staked out his ground. 'Let's get this show on the road.'

Choupette has no idea what's going on.

Views of Hendersonville, North Carolina

Our good friend and colleague Candice fetched up in the library world of Hendersonville in the 1990s, and we've wondered for more than a few years what that must be like.

So, as is our wont, we've vowed to take some documentary photographs of downtown Hendersonville before we rejoin Martin and Candice for a final pub dinner before we must wend northward.

It's difficult to really capture the essence, photographically, of any downtown area, when one's spouse is waiting for us at the far end of the street, having noted that we have three minutes to meet our friends at the pub.

Many or most small towns that we've seen in the eastern USA (not too many in recent years) do in fact have a fairly presentable downtown high street, normally with utter rubbish of fast food and big-box stores radiating outwards from there. (Our present home in Staunton, Virginia, is a scintillating example of that.)

But Hendersonville, NC, goes beyond those regulation expectations --

-- chiefly because their high street, or Main Street, is exceptionally wide, and easily accommodates not only small parks and sidewalks cafés but also has wiggles all along it, through an attractive maze of traffic-calmers.

As grim as anywhere in the winter, probably, but for those who make it through the winter, they have this comfortable green conviviality to look forward to by May.

The bright main street, called Main Street

Plenty of room for social distancing

Hendersonville, population ca. 14,000, is the county seat of Henderson County (surprise) and is named after the Leonard Henderson who served as Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court from 1829 to 1833, but seems otherwise totally unremarkable. (Unless they've got the wrong Leonard Henderson.)

Street scene

These wonderfully 30m-wide main streets were laid out by the generous Judge Mitchell King's slaves, prior to the town's incorporation in 1847.

The town retains, for the moment, its early racial composition of 81.44% White, but it does harbor 0.28% Native American, as well as 0.01% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.

Amongst the list of most notable Hendersonvillians one finds Madison Cawthorn, the ridiculous Congressman; William Dathan Holbert, a serial killer; and 'the world's heaviest twins', the McGuire Twins. And the late Martin Gardner, the Scientific American's brilliant math and science writer, and pseudoscience debunker, who lived there 1979-2004. And presently, the Miss Julia novelist Ann B. Ross and the poet Robert Morgan.

Very cheery on a sunny spring afternoon

An obvious historic landmark on the horizon . . .

That looming goldish dome belongs to the Old Henderson County Courthouse, a Classical Revival building completed in 1905 and later restored to become the Henderson County Heritage Museum, on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.

We're really sprinting along now -- plenty of sidewalk room to avoid plowing anyone down to the pavement.

And now we're off to the pub, food and drink, and promises to meet up again someday soon.

Some cats never learn.

Resting up for a long drive

The Interstate 26 highway north of Asheville NC, fast, scenic, and still in fairly good condition. {All thanks to Pres. Eisenhower, we're informed. Is it possible to imagine any modern president's administration creating something like the US Interstate Highway system, begun in the mid-1950s, in these days of 'lower taxes' but 'more and better bombers'?}

'South Indian Creek' -- Yikes, we seem to be in Tennessee now. Who knew?

Next up: The waterfall in St Mary's Wilderness, without the waterfall

Summer 2021

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 18 June 2021.

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