Monday, October 3, 2011

Bascom Lamar Lunsford Festival

It was a cold day in Mars Hill, North Carolina on Saturday, but the outdoor music went on -- right on schedule. After all, it was the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Festival. Lunsford was a musician and collector of folk songs. He was probably the biggest promoter of Southern Appalachian music. 

I think he would have been proud of Saturday's program.

Musician and storyteller Joe Penland of Marshall led a group of ballad singers as they sat around in rocking chairs swapping stories and songs. There was musicians playing that traditional "mountain" instrument -- the hammered dulcimer and -- plenty of guitars and banjos. 

I happened to wander up as George and Brooke Buckner took the stage and captured this tune.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Return to High Rock

It was an absolutely perfect day for a hike today!
Hike Destination: The High Rock
The gray skies turned to an azure blue and the 40 degree temperature climbed to a comfortable 60. The trail, itself, an old logging road -- was challenging in that it was heavily grown over with blackberry and raspberry briars and small, prickly locust trees -- at one point -- it required crawling on hands and knees under the briars. The hike was approximately four miles, round-trip.

Once on top of the mountain, a four-wheeler trail led through the woods and up to the magnificent rock -- the High Rock.  It slowly comes into view as you start to crest the forested hill just to the south of the rock. The northeastern side of the rock was covered with lichen while the southwestern side was clean -- except for holes bored into the stone.  One was a perfect circle, the other looked more haphazard.

I had heard that Native Americans had cut a turkey foot into the stone, so Jack, my hiking partner, and I searched as much of the large stone as possible.  It reaches 30 to 40 feet into the air -- and appears to have been some sort of spiritual or special site.  Suddenly, about 12 feet up on the southern side of the rock, I spotted a cross. Does it represent the four directions -- North, South, East and West?  It is difficult to say -- and we have no way of dating this petroglyph.

According to the Cherokee, who lived in this part of North Carolina,  each of the four main directions corresponds to a color, and each color is a symbol. For instance, East, triumph, red; North, defeat, blue; West, death, black; and South, peace, white.
Notice the cross carved in the stone. The work of Native Americans?

Another view of the cross carved on High Rock.

About five feet to the right of the cross was what appears to be the turkey foot. It is extremely difficult to make out and was almost impossible to photograph, but the cuts in the stone appear to be a turkey foot.  The Cherokee apparently considered the turkey as very sacred.

Two holes on the southwestern side of the rock.

View of High Rock from the southwest
I had visited the high rock several times, but this was the first time I spotted the petroglyphs.  Are they ancient or from our more recent past?  I'd like to think they are the former.  There is no doubt that the place is special.  It's a challenging hike, but well worth the effort -- if only for the view!