Archive | July, 2014

Art History: Explore the Art Loeb Trail

A small hiker on Black Balsam along the Art Loeb Trail.

A small hiker on Black Balsam along the Art Loeb Trail.

 

“Named in tribute to Arthur J. Loeb, industrialist, conservationist, and hiker who so deeply loved these mountains …”

These are the words on one of my most cherished mementos: a folded program commemorating the dedication of the Art Loeb Trail—one of Western North Carolina’s most revered footpaths—on November 9, 1969. I came across it years ago while researching a magazine story marking the route’s 40th anniversary.

The thirty mile path, named after the late Brevard trail blazer, covers some of the finest terrain in the region. Much of it is doable in short day-hikes, including Black Balsam. The mountain is a 6,200 foot behemoth within an hour walk of an easily accessible trailhead near the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it’s one of my favorite hikes.

To be sure, I’m fond of the ridgetop path’s glorious views. But I have a soft spot for Loeb, too. I wish I’d met him—he died in 1968 at age 54 after a brief battle with cancer. In a wool Pendleton shirt, hiking boots, and a worn leather backpack, Loeb got out in the woods every weekend to explore new trails or hike some of his favorites, sections of which eventually became the Art Loeb Trail.

He didn’t start out as an avid hiker. The Philadelphia native moved to Brevard at 26 to work at the Ecusta plant, which once stood along the Davidson River. After suffering a heart attack in his mid-forties, he began walking as part of his recovery. And he walked … and walked…

His healthful jaunts eventually led him to the woods where he discovered a delight in being outdoors. He also became a dedicated trail volunteer: One of his projects involved linking sections of hiking trails from the Davidson River near his home in Brevard to Cold Mountain.

He never finished, but a few months after his death, the Carolina Mountain Club and the U.S. Forest Service finished the trail and named it in his honor.

Nearly a half century after his death, the trail is as popular as ever and a fitting tribute to the WNC hiking pioneer.

To pay homage to Loeb, day-hike to the grassy top of Black Balsam or continue north on the trail into the Shining Rock Wilderness. To access the trailhead to Black Balsam, follow the Blue Ridge Parkway to milepost 420 and turn on FS Road 816. Follow the road to one of several trailheads, or park in the lot at the end of the road.

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In the Spirit of These Times

tgate

River Arts District Tailgate Market

What a wonderful July 4th weekend this year, right? Thirty percent humidity, crisp mornings and clear blue skies across our region. Summertime fun to be nabbed at every turn. I feel regenerated and hope you do, too. Of course, the season is far from over. Here’s a roundup of midsummer happenings and happenstances I discovered during my time off.

River Arts District Tailgate Market

Even though I was a little late for work last Wednesday, I pulled off Clingman Avenue, scored a perfect parking space and walked over to the River Arts District’s newest farmers market. Immediately, I spotted my friend, Neil, proudly carrying his weekly cache of CSA veggies. I scurried around the booths admiring summer’s early harvest of potatoes, carrots, cucumbers and fresh herbs. Next week, I hope to get my first taste of a locally grown tomato! The fresh vegetables reminded me of the farm-to-table dinner my wife, Candace, and I enjoyed a couple of days earlier. We celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary at Grove Park Inn’s EDISON. The local fare, North Carolina Craft ales and splendid mountain views, capped off a beautiful celebration – one that reminded both of us of our honeymoon trek along the Appalachian Trail and Lake Santeetlah.  

Trail Connections

Saturday, I found myself running along a sacred stretch of single track through cove forests, rhododendron slicks and George Vanderbilt’s personal footpath to Buck Spring Hunting Lodge. Earlier, I texted a friend teasing him that I was going on a “soul-searching” run in the High Country. Heading back from Bent Creek Gap on my out-and-back run, I heard some rustling along the heath thicket. Ambling along the dry leaves came the first of two black bears. Once they got wind of me, both bears seemed naturally curious about my presence. Their inquiring looks reminded me of my young chocolate lab’s meddling ways and natural curiosity. Once the young bears parted, I casually walked in the same direction then continued my holiday run to Chestnut Cove.

 

Sleepy Gap Overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Sleepy Gap Overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Reflections From the Viewshed

After my refreshing run, I cruised south along the Blue Ridge Parkway. There have certainly been some noticeable changes along the parkway and neighboring national forest since I moved here 25 years ago – much more activity and demand on our natural resources. The Sleepy Gap parking lot spilled over with cars, tourists and day-hikers as I descended a couple of thousand feet in less than 10 minutes. Down by the river, a group of paddlers launched their watercraft into the confluence of Bent Creek and the French Broad. A few paddle boarders appeared to be standing on water as they gently glided downstream. Heading north, I exited onto Amboy Road and took a brief stop at Carrier Park. A couple of locals were enjoying their morning on the lawn bowling green. The park was filled with folks cycling, walking their dogs and enjoying the holiday weekend. I never take days like this for granted, but I have to say that playing outdoors in our region is relatively easy whether it’s a holiday or not. That’s what I’ve always appreciated about our outdoors community that actively engages itself with the mountains, forest and streams. I’ve lived closely by a quote of Edward Abbey who reasoned: “It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it.” Take the grumpy old desert rat’s advice and get out and enjoy it this summer!

So what’s in your back pocket? The Asheville Pocket Guide invites you to share your seasonal adventures with us! Email: ashevillepocketguide@gmail.com.

 

 

Midsummer playlist:

Mr Cody, The Honeycutters
Relatively Easy, Jason Isbell
Fisherman’s Blues, The Waterboys
Four Miles, Town Mountain
A Feather’s Not a Bird, Rosanne Cash
Disappearing Ink, Randall Bramblett
Coast, Eliza Gilikyson

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The Lowdown on Summer Farmers Markets

Summer Farmers Market Display

Spring farmers tailgate markets in Asheville are full of promise: Vendors offer up plant starts to, well, start our home gardens, and they bring a trickle of veggies—from scallions to leafy greens—as weather permits. Summer markets are the promise delivered: They’re filled to the brim with more and more sellers, and farmers’ tables literally spill over with just-harvested bounty. It’s a produce peak you don’t want to miss.

A Taste of Tailgates

With summer officially underway, you can shop for seasonal fruits like blackberries, blueberries, and peaches. Load up on summer squash of all kinds, from crookneck to zucchini. Although the hot months are known for tomatoes, they’re also a brilliant time for beans: green ones, yellow ones, purple ones, long ones, really long ones, flat ones, ones for eating pod and all, ones for shelling, ones for drying, and the list goes on.

Speaking of ‘maters, small quantities can be found from select vendors now, and more are certainly on the way. In fact, a downright deluge of heirlooms isn’t far off. Of course, that’s not all: Also look for new potatoes, carrots, celery, cucumbers, garlic, herbs, mushrooms, peppers, and so much more. If you’re craving it or need it for a recipe, Asheville’s tailgate markets have got it now.

Stay up-to-date about what’s fresh each week via ASAP’s community site fromhere.org; you can even sign up for their emails and get the updates sent right to your inbox.

Local Food News

Have you heard? After three-and-a-half years in the parking lot of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, Montford Farmers Market has moved to the RAD, specifically the All Souls Pizza lot at 175 Clingman Avenue. The market is still every Wednesday, and hours remain 2-6 pm. The name, however, has changed (fittingly!) to River Arts District Farmers Market. Mark your calendars for their on-site Grand Opening Celebration, July 9 from 2 until 10 pm.

There’s also news out of Asheville City Market, which sits just on the edge of the river corridor at 161 South Charlotte Street. They’ve launched their City Market Shopper Program. Sign up, and a membership card grants you access to market specials and prizes.

Location, Location, Location

The RAD is also home to the super-new Pink Dog Tailgate Market at 342 Depot Street, which aims to bring farm-fresh food to the area as well as sell art from the district’s working artists. If you want to shop close to the river, be sure to visit West Asheville Tailgate Market, which is a stone’s throw from the RAD at 718 Haywood Road.

For a complete list of WNC farmers markets, visit ASAP’s online Local Food Guide. And be sure to browse our guide to locations other than tailgates offering food, drink, and fun!

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