It's all about the creek…and the mountains

Brasstown Bald

Brasstown Bald – The top of Our Mountains

Brasstown Bald, touching the clouds! At almost 5,000 feet above sea level, Brasstown Bald Recreation Area & Visitor Center in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests is the highest point in Georgia. Owned by the US Forest Service and just a short drive from Hiawassee, Young Harris, Blairsville and Helen, GA, Brasstown Bald offers visitors 360-degree viewing opportunities of the surrounding areas of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and sometimes the Atlanta skyline can all be seen from the Visitor Center’s observation deck.

In addition to the spectacular views, visitors to the Bald can also enjoy an afternoon of hiking on one of three trailheads, visiting the natural science and history museum or picnicking in one of the many scenic picnic areas. Area schools can also participate in all that Brasstown Bald has to offer by scheduling a field trip tailored to your class age, size and interests. There is something for everyone to enjoy at the Bald!



brasstown bald

Take the shuttle…or take a hike!  It’s not an incredibly long hike. And though it’s steadily uphill from the start, it’s not terribly difficult, either, thanks to its short length. But what the hike to Brasstown Bald lacks in distance, it sure makes up for in beauty. This adventure to Georgia’s tallest summit follows a paved trail through a magnificent forest filled with mossy rock and twisted thickets of blooming native shrubs. The trek itself is just over a half mile, each way. And the hike’s halfway point at the summit of this soaring mountain is simply spectacular.

Toyota Bassmaster Angler Of The Year Championship

bass fishing

Toyota Bassmaster Angler Of The Year Championship!  
Our little corner of the mountains is hosting the Toyota Bassmaster National Championship!  The championship will be managed at the tournament headquarters in Hiawassee, but you can bet they’ll be lots of anglers heading right up here to the north end of the lake to try their skill and luck at landing a record trophy.

Before the fishing begins, the best bass anglers in the world gather for the Night of Champions. Brandon Palaniuk speaks from the heart in front of the anglers who inspired him to win his Angler of the Year title in 2017. The self-professed B.A.S.S. geek, shares how he went from living in a trailer to a professional bass angler.

lake chatuge

Craig Lamb writes on the tournament’s website:
“YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. — Duplicate a rotation of tactics, lures and locations that put bass in the livewell and you have a pattern. Whoever scores with the best pattern this week will win the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship on Lake Chatuge.

There is a hitch. Before the winner patterned the bass, he will likely have patterned the bait. The old adage “find the bait, find the bass” rings more true here than most tournament fisheries.

Bass are so adaptive to a given lake environment they will favor whatever forage is most plentiful and easy to prey upon. The prolific and fast-growing blueback herring fit the bill on many lakes, including Chatuge.

Throughout the 7,500 acres of the north Georgia impoundment is an overabundance of the landlocked saltwater baitfish. By their open-water, nomadic nature they stay on the move. Coincidentally so do their primary predator. That is the spotted bass, also an open-water species that spends a lot of time searching for their favorite source of food. 

Committing to fishing specific spots is risky business on a herring-dominated bass lake. Keeping up with blueback herring movements is the wiser approach. And that is the hitch. Pattern the herring and you will likely pattern the bass. 

“When they are not spawning blueback herring are deeper than most baitfish, and they roam even more,” said Davy Hite, a native South Carolinian and analyst for Bassmaster LIVE. “That makes them tough to find, and keep up with, but that can be your only choice when the bass are in a feeding mode.”

Alpacas – Love These Fuzzy Friends

alpacas

Love those alpacas!  Love that fluffy feeling! Love those baby-faces!

alpacas
alpacas
alpacas
alpacas

Looking for a different kind of family fun?  Head to Two Crows Farms Alpacas!  
Two Crows Farm, located in the southwestern most corner of North Carolina outside of Murphy, is home to 43 delightful alpacas, 1 noble llama, 5 loyal dogs and 2 working cats. Two Crows Farm promotes the rural lifestyle, which for its owners, Woody and Mike Hamm, includes raising alpacas for their luxurious fiber. Woody and Mike invite you to come learn about raising livestock, processing yarn, growing your food and the sense of community that living in the country brings. 

And after you’ve made friends with all the alpacas and their crias and all the other farm critters at Two Crows Farm, be sure to visit their shop, filled with some of the most luxurious alpaca items you’ve ever run your hands across. With everything from scarves to shawls to baby items and running socks, the Two Crows shop is everything alpaca.  Here’s a sampling of some of the beautifully woven items you’ll find in the shop.

 

Q: What do you call Alpacas taking over the world? A: The Alpacalypse!

But first, let’s learn a little bit more about this amazing animal…
Related to the llama and the familiar one- and two-hump camels seen at the zoo, the alpaca is one of six species of camelids that exist today.  There are two alpaca breeds, the huacaya and the suri.  Huacaya alpacas have dense, fluffy fleece while suri alpacas have long, curly fiber.  Their fiber is sheared once every one to two years and can be processed to create blankets, clothing, and other beautiful products.  Suri is a less common variety of alpaca. The fiber of suri alpacas grows parallel to the body and hangs down the sides of the body in curly ringlets. Suri fiber doesn’t stand out from the body, but parts along the backbone and hangs along the sides giving the animal a slender, sleek look.

There are twenty-two natural basic colors of alpacas ranging from black to white—including many different browns, grays, tans, and creams.  Alpacas tend to be more a single, uniform color than llamas, but occasionally will have white markings on the face, neck, or legs. Alpacas weigh approximately 150 to 200 pounds and are about 3 feet tall at the withers.  A baby alpaca, or cria, is born weighing about 15 pounds after approximately 11 months of gestation.  The average life span of an alpaca is 15 to 25 years.  Unique features of an alpaca include their soft padded feet with 2 toe-nails, their dental pad rather than upper teeth, and their use of humming and spitting as a form of communication.

Q: Wanna go on a picnic? Alpaca lunch.

Some fun facts about these fuzzy friends…
1) Like their cousins the llamas, alpacas spit when angry or annoyed. Many a too-close camera lens has been the bulls-eye for well-aimed wad of ick!

2) Alpacas are good lawnmowers– when alpacas grass, they snip off the top of the plant unlike some other animals that pull the grass up by the root.

3) Alpacas have soft pads on their feet, which don’t churn up the ground like a cow or horse’s hooves do— another reason to hire a young’un to chomp your grass.

4) The animals have interesting pooping habits. On some farms, the alpacas have grown accustomed to pooping in a giant-sized litter box—no muss, no fuss!

5 No middle of the night calls– mothers almost always have their babies in the morning. 

6) Females have an 11-month gestation period and when it’s time, they just go into labor and deliver the baby within an hour.  There’s gotta be some jealous moms out there reading this about now.

7) Alpacas love to sunbathe. You might see a herd of alpacas all lying down on their side in a field—it can be pretty weird looking since they kind of look like they’ve dropped dead.

 

Two Crows Farm
1495 Boiling Springs Road
Murphy, North Carolina 28906
(828) 837-1678

alpaca baby
alpacas
alpacas
alpacas

Brasstown Bald

Brasstown Bald

“Every mountaintop is within reach if you just keep climbing.”


You made it to the top– welcome to Brasstown Bald! 

Georgia’s highest mountain, Brasstown Bald rises 4,784 feet above sea level and its peak looms half a mile above the surrounding valleys.  If you’re going to be making a visit to our little corner of the mountains in October, put Brasstown Bald on your bucket list as it is the first place to see fall color. On clear days, the spectacular 360-degree view from the top of the mountain allows you to see four states, including Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. The observation deck offers a breathtaking view of the mountains’ scenic vistas and on clear days in late September and October, it’s even possible to see the skyline of Atlanta. In addition to spectacular views, a visit to Brasstown Bald offers cool mountain temperatures, beautiful scenery, hiking trails, gift shop and a terrific visitor center with a number of interactive exhibits and a movie about the site.

Brasstown Bald sign
Brasstown Bald visitor center
Brasstown Bald visitor center

The exhibits in the Brasstown Bald Visitor Center take you through the human and natural history of the Southern Appalachian region and the north Georgia mountains. Learn about the Cherokee Indians and early settlers and the impact they had on the land upon which they lived and earned their livelihoods.  A life-like robot of Ranger Arthur Woody, the first forester in the Blue Ridge Mountains, talks about the role the Forest Service played in the reforestation of the mountains in the early 1900s.

Brasstown Bald
Brasstown Bald

Climb up to cool down!  Brasstown Bald experiences weather conditions different from the rest of our region and after working up a sweat hiking the trail up to the top (or stay cool and take the shuttle), fog, mist, and storms can quickly and unexpectedly move in and obscure the view. But it’s these unique weather conditions that help to contribute to the variety of plants and wildlife found on the slopes of the mountain.  If you’d like the check on conditions at the top of Brasstown Bald before you head out, then check out the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest website where two webcams record the current weather and visibility at the Brasstown Bald Visitor Center. The elevation of Brasstown Bald also means that temperatures average 5-10 °F cooler than the surrounding areas (temperatures have never exceeded 84°F) and makes the bald a great place to visit during hot summer days.

Depending upon the season, a visit to the Bald will offer a beautiful display of rhododendrons, mountain laurel, and flame azaleas in bloom (May to June), or the intense shades of green that the surrounding national forest wears during summer, or the spectacular show of fall color as it spreads across the Blue Ridge Mountains (mid to late October).

Brasstown Bald Visitor Center is located on the summit of the Bald and is open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm.  A steep, paved ½ mile trail leads from the parking lot to the visitor information center on the Bald. For those who don’t want to walk, a concessionaire operates a shuttle bus from the parking areas to the Visitor Center for a fee. A U.S. Forest Service parking fee is also required. The Bald is generally open from April through December, however the gate at the bottom of Highway 180 Spur up to the Bald will close if conditions are unsafe for travel.

Whitewater Rafting – Get Wet!

whitewater rafting
rafting

Whitewater rafting is one of the most popular outdoor activities here in our little corner of the mountains.   Perhaps you rented a pontoon boat and had a quiet day on Lake Chatuge and now you’re looking for a little more action.  Then eat your Wheaties, drum up some courage on, head on over to the Ocoee River and check in with one of several outfitters who will take you on a wet and wild ride that you won’t soon forget. 

First, a little history about the Ocoee River and some background about the when and why it has become such a mecca for whitewater enthusiasts from all over the country and around the world.  The Ocoee River was dammed to build hydroelectric plants and became part of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s efforts to provide a continuous source of reliable electric power to the region. The Ocoee No. 1 and Ocoee No. 2 Dams were built between 1910 and 1913 featuring wooden flumes that divert the waters of the Upper and Middle Ocoee along an elevated path before they drop into the hydroelectric powerhouses. In September 1976, the wooden flume diverting water on the Middle Ocoee was shut down for reconstruction and the river ran unabated. The river attracted lots of attention as boaters flocked to the Middle Ocoee to run its five miles of continuous whitewater rapids. Rafting companies sprang up while the TVA hurried to repair the flume to again divert water from the Ocoee. After much resistance and a Congressional Act, TVA agreed to schedule 116 days of recreational whitewater releases per year on the Middle Ocoee. Whitewater racing events have been held on the Ocoee since 1978, bringing the river to the attention of the world. The Ocoee has also been called the birthplace of freestyle kayaking, hosting the first-ever Ocoee Rodeo at Second Helping in 1983. The Ocoee has become one of the most popular whitewater rivers in the world, attracting over 250,000 visitors annually.

The whitewater slalom events during the 1996 Summer Olympics were conducted on a one-mile Olympic whitewater course that is fed by releases of water from Ocoee Dam #3 on the river. After the Olympics, rafting tours started, provided by several different companies located in both directions on U.S. 64, which runs next to the river for a few miles. These outfitters provide other activities on and along the river such as biking, hiking, kayaking and zip-lining.

The Middle Ocoee’s numerous rapids and river formations offer a wealth of currents and surf for creative and skilled paddlers. Rapids are Class III for its entirety and the Ocoee requires at least strong intermediate skills and a solid river roll (kayakers) for a successful run. The action is fairly continuous from top to bottom, letting up only for a half-mile known as the Doldrums. If you are not an experienced whitewater rafter or kayaker, the best way for you to experience the thrills and excitement of the rapids is by arranging a trip with one of the many outfitters and whitewater guide companies that line the river. 

Get In On The Fun And Get Wet!

L.H. said:
My family and I had a wonderful time with the NOC on their Ocoee rafting trip. We got lucky with only being on a trip with one other raft, and the six of us in one raft. Phil was our guide and he was amazing. Oliver was the guide for the other boat and he made the intro/pre-trip meeting very entertaining. The river is great no matter what, but a good guide takes it up a notch. I would highly recommend NOC to friends and family, it was a seamless process from booking a week prior to the trip back to the outpost.

Jim D. said:
We did the full day combo trip it was great. We passed several other rafts on the river from other companies and noticed that the noa rafters were full of smiles and having fun. Our guide Dakota was outstanding we talked pretty well the whole trip whether it was learning about the river or getting to know him and the group as a whole. We made it through all the rapids without anyone falling out. We did some surfing went down a rapid backwards just to make it more intense. Awesome first time rafting experience!

Reb W. said:
I took my son on an adventure weekend to Ocoee, TN and we were not disappointed. the Nantahala Outdoor Center did an amazing job with our tour and our guide, Guinness, was the best. With over 10 years of experience he knew every rock in the river. He had us doing tricks in that boat that I’ve only seen from Kayakers such as surfing and spinning the boat. He was knowledgeable, fun, and made it all seem so easy. I HIGHLY recommend NOC Ocoee Outpost for anyone looking for a great adventure that is also fun!

Scott K. said:
We had an absolutely fantastic time rafting and zip lining. Sara was our whitewater guide and she was incredibly informative and enthusiastic. Ben and Chuy were our zip guides and they were just awesome people. Had sherpa for lunch at the restaurant and it was delicious. We will be back! What an adventure!
 

For A More Family-Friendly, Milder River Run...

For beginners to whitewater rafting, or families with younger children, or if you’re just looking to try a slightly milder whitewater adventure, find your way to Nantahala Outdoor Center’s rafting trips on the Nantahala River (in Bryson City, NC).  Here you’ll find Class II and Class III rapids.  The water’s colder here (it’s released from the bottom of the dam– a chilly 55-degrees or so), but the fun is just beginning!

Tusquittee Tavern-Friendliest Place In Town

Cheers and beer in sunset

“Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin;
whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!”
– Martin Luther

Tusquittee Tavern

The Tusquittee Tavern is quite possibly the friendliest place in town and that’s saying a lot for a town that was voted among the top ten friendliest towns in America.  The tavern is located in the picturesque Tusquittee Valley outside the town of Hayesville, and if you’re lucky enough to be staying at CasaOnTheCreek, you’re practically bumping elbows with Fran and McRay, the proprietors and official welcoming committee to our little corner of the mountains.  The tavern is located at the intersection of Tusquittee and Cold Branch, literally a stone’s throw away.

The tavern features live music– some of the best country and folk music found anywhere in the mountains.  It’s our own neighborhood version of the bar from “Cheers!”.  Grab a beer and pull up a chair and enjoy the music.  You’ll see many folks at the tavern kicking up their heels with a little bit of dancing and maybe even clogging, or joining in and singing along with the musicians and songsters.  

Open Thursday to Sunday, 4pm until closing –  828-389-4962 Fran & McRay Nettles
                        (and don’t forget to bring a treat for “Milo”, the Tavern’s mascot mutt!)

Joyce R said about her visit to the Tavern:
If you like blue grass music and a back country ambiance, I found the place for you!
Fran and McRay are the best hosts anywhere! I learned what a baby beer was here!

 

And David says:
Great live entertainment, great folks to visit with. Good drinks and company..

banjo player
breweries

 

Paul R. said:
Happened upon the place purely by chance! We were welcomed as regulars! Thanks McRay and Fran for the warm welcome!

hiiding from wife

The Largest Potato

potato

Newsflash:  May 2017 — The largest potato visits our little corner of the mountains and puts Hayesville’s in the news again, well, maybe just for one day…!

May 2017!  This week Clay County, NC received a visit from the world’s largest potato on wheels. The Big Idaho® Potato is currently traveling across the country and our little town was lucky enough to be one of the stops.  Every year since it’s debut in 2011, the Big Idaho® Potato travels across the country helping communities through “A Big Helping.” In 2017 the truck is schedule to visit 60 cities, travel more than 23,000 miles, and help dozens of charities better serve their community.

Potato truck

 

What is “A Big Helping” ?
A Big Helping” is the Big Idaho® Potato Truck’s charitable component. In most of the markets the Truck visits, it partners with a local charity. While in the market, a signature board is set up and for every signature collected, $1.00 is donated to the partner charity, up to $500. In 2016, the Truck made donations to more than 30 charities across the country!

 

A big helping

The recent visit of the Big Idaho® Potato truck in Hayesville, NC benefited the Clay County Food Pantry and Matt’s Ministry. To learn how you can get the Big Idaho Potato truck to come to your neighborhood, you can visit them online and request an appearance.

A few fun facts:
• This massive potato would make 30,325 servings of mashed potatoes
• Could easily make over 1,500,000 average sized french fries
• Would take over 10,000 years to grow
• Weighs 6 tons, equaling 32,346 medium-sized Idaho potatoes.

To learn more about the Big Idaho® Potato Truck, visit their official site.