Wednesday, August 5, 2015

North Carolina's Mountain Treasures Teyahalee Bald Tower and Tulula Wetlands

Sabatia angularis growing at Tapoco , NC

North Carolina's Mountain Treasures Teyahalee Bald Tower and Tulula Wetlands 

Sunday August 2, 2015

Kenny & Dana Koogler

   I   had wanted to get out just me and Kenny and go some place quiet.  I wanted to 
work on my Lookout Tower Challenge.     We slept a little bit.  We got going slowly and
set out toward Robbinsville and Graham County, NC.    We stopped by Tapoco and hiked to 
Yellow Creek Falls. It is only 0.3 miles one way and very easy.   We had been before, but it
is on the way and it seemed a shame not to check it out.   


The main drop of Yellow Creek Falls is about 15 feet high or so. It is very scenic.  You pass several pretty cascades on the way there.  The stream had plenty of water in it today.
We saw three other hikers today on this trail and they were all together as a family group.

 I saw this carved on the rock at the falls.   It is a Cherokee Medicine wheel.  I don't know if it is old or recent.   It looks like it was done long enough ago to have weathered some.   

Below is a short video of Yellow Creek Falls and the various drops along the trail.

     Next we headed on toward Robbinsville and went up toward the lookout tower.
It is way up Long Creek Road and past Tatham Gap. The Trail of Tears passed< from Robbinsville to
Andrews then on to Murphy.   Lots of history in this area and not all of it good.   Hard subject for me.

      Teyahalee Bald is listed as a North Carolina's Mountain Treasure. I would have to agree.
The Bartram Trail goes across here. The Valley River trail was in the area at some point in the past, but I don't know much about that except that it existed.   We parked at the gate and hiked up from there.  We saw two hikers today on their way back from the tower bringing our grand total of other hikers for the day to five!  Quiet and peaceful. Exactly what I hoped for.   They were a nice couple, but the woman was not dressed appropriately for hiking at all.   They also walked up there and did
not know it was OK to climb the tower for the view.   A pity too.   We passed the end of the Bartram Trail on our way up to the lookout.   The weather up here today was seventy degrees, sunny, blue skies and perfect!   The tower site is not as attractive as some since it is heavily plastered with other towers and structures. Kenny can tell you what each one does since that is his wheelhouse.
I did not realize until Sunday that Kenny's crane has an anomometer on it!  Fancy.

          Summer wildflowers were pretty along the hike and up on the tower site. Butterflies dotted the place.  Disconnected wires and cables hung on the tower and from some of the trees.
 Below is a video of the view from the tower.   The cat walk and cab are locked, but the stairs are open and quite steep!

 Here is a shot of the tower. I remembered to take a photo of it this time.

View from Teyahalee.

  Next we started back down the mountain from the tower and stopped for me to check out a stone structure I spotted on the way up.    It was a rectangular hut about the size and shape of a stone outhouse!  It was in good condition except a tree had fallen over it and the roof and such were gone.
It did not appear to be an outhouse or spring house.  No additional holes or water present. 

Sixty feet away was a larger stone structure built from a similar stone masonry.    It was quite a bit bigger. It looked like a small house.  No idea what it was at one time.  I saw lots of similar stone masonry down in Robbinsville on various structures. One little hut exactly like the stone outhouse was down by the water treatment plant on Longs Creek Road.   I will just have to wonder what the purpose of all that was.   I found nothing on it. 

 Smaller rectangular structure. This is above Tatham gap.
 I am IN the larger stone structure looking out the door.
I am outside the larger structure looking back at its door. No roof.  No door. 

   Next we headed back towards Robbinsville and on down the road to the Tulula Wetland.
It was not hard to find.    Once we got down there and parked we walked in the most likely direction to find it and we did!   We found a few ponds and some wetland species of shrubs and flowers. It was quite pretty.    Kudzu was taking over the world on the way there.   Death by strangulation and purple kool aid.    We had no idea what we were doing or looking for at Tulula Wetlands, but we found it and enjoyed it just the same.    It was not long until I spotted a swarm of yellow fringed orchids!

            I saw ferns, ground nut, joe pye weed and such.  We found the source of water for the bog.
It is a spring high up on the slope that really gushes.   The wetland is a slope fen and a flood plain and not a true bog.     It was going to be a golf course and work had been done to create it.  It  tore up the flood plain and one of the last remaining southern forest fens in the state.   The work was stopped and UNC's department of environmental studies has educated their students on mitigation and restoring this beautiful, unique place.  I have read some of the articles on it and wow! I can't believe foolishness of destruction of habitat for a golf course. I also can't believe what a lot of hard work has been done to fix it!  It appears to be succeeding.     It had grown hot. It was snakey.  We were wading around not knowing what we were doing or where we were going.   We took in about half of what was there. We learned later upon going home we will have to return to see the rest.  

Poor view of a wetland pond.

Grassy area with just SOME of the forty or so platanthera ciliaris we found.

Closer view of one of the larger, prettier specimens of Yellow Fringed orchid.

 I told ya orchids like power line cuts! 

Pinkish brown tones of ground nut blossoms. 

   I see my my crystal ball of the future.......

Us going back to Tulula to finish seeing what's there.
Going back to Burgan Creek Falls.
Hunting up the lesser known waterfalls of Graham County. 

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