Saturday, March 5, 2011

The 12 Chairs

A non-white parrot at Bali Bird Park without red shorts

I'm reading Ilf & Petrov's The Twelve Chairs -- a hilarious book about the early days of Soviet Russia. Mel Brooks even made a movie based on the book. There are many funny lines in the book -- including this one:

"...the three room apartment was occupied by an immaculately white parrot in red shorts. The parrot was riddled with fleas, but could not complain since it was unable to talk. For days on end it used to crack sunflower seeds and spit the husks through the bars of its tall, circular cage onto the carpet. It only needed a concertina and new squeaky galoshes to resemble a peasant on a spree."

I laughed so hard after reading that line because I can actually see it.  There are many descriptive and funny moments in this book -- about life in the "new" Russia -- written before the Soviet censors really began to take themselves and their insane bureaucracy -- seriously.

Ancient Graffiti

I wasn't sure I was seeing the actual rock art at Paint Rock, so I checked with the North Carolina Museum of History website -- just to make sure. It would be easy to mistake the pictograph for modern-day graffiti. However, this graffitti, from somewhere around 2500 B.C. has withstood the test of time.

Here is the description of the rock art -- as described on the website of the N.C. Museum of History:
"The pictograph at Paint Rock, located on a vertical rock cliff near the French Broad River, is an intricate rectilinear pattern in red and yellow. The design is similar to that found on Mississippian-period ceramics in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. An estimated half of the original pictograph exists today; the rest has faded or chipped off. The design and condition of the paint suggest that Paint Rock dates from the Mississippian period or later."
21st Century Rock Art at Paint Rock near Hot Springs, NC

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Long and Short of It

I had thought I was pretty good at judging distances -- miles, kilometers, etc. So, when I go on a hike, I go until I figure that I've walked a couple of miles and turn around and head back. I'm always exhausted when I get back even though I consider myself in pretty decent shape -- regular trips to the gym, hiking, etc.

Yesterday, I bought a hiking book that lists just about all the trails that I've been hiking and a bunch more.  Wow!  I was in for a surprise and now realize why I am so tired when I get back to my Jeep.  The trail that I had thought was around three miles or so -- is actually closer to eight -- another trail that I thought was six miles -- is ten.

I think I am just completely getting lost in the forest -- in terms of mileage.

Having not lived and hiked, regularly, in these awesome mountains in a very long while, I just become enchanted by the gurgling streams, the waterfalls, the creaking trees, the wind whispering through the white pines, the shrieking sound of the Blue Jay and everything else in the woods.

I'm sticking the book and map in my knapsack.

Pond at Mill Ridge near Hot Springs, NC
Appalachian Trail near Mill Ridge

French Broad River at Paint Rock

Monday, February 28, 2011

The High Rock

A fairly easy hike, except for the briars and brambles, is up to the high rock. I hiked up an old logging road and then up a rounded ridge -- suddenly just before you reach the top -- the upper third of the rock comes into view. Once on top -- the rock sits down the other side of the mountain about 50 yards.  It is quite a beauty.  On this particular day, the winds were pretty high and I didn't stick around too long since there were some dead trees and limbs along the trail.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Now you see them....

It was an awesome morning for a late winter hike. Warm weather, a bit overcast -- and slight threat of rain. As I drove toward the trailhead -- Mill Ridge, near Hot Springs, NC, it began to rain -- just enough to put the wipers on -- intermittent.

At the trail head, I snapped the above photo -- the blue ridges very prominent -- except in the far distant --where everything was faded gray. I decided to hike onto the bare hillside and suddenly there was  a not-far-off rumble of thunder -- off in the distance -- I thought I could hear water going over falls. All the while, those blue ridges were getting grayer and grayer.

A few seconds later, I saw the sheet of rain in the timber a hundred yards off -- moving rapidly in my direction. I began walking quickly back to the Jeep -- just as I opened the door -- huge raindrops began to pound my back. I watched the hard rain from the vehicle -- hypnotic as it splattered on the windshield.