Dad and Daughter go paddling

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9/1 - 9/3/18 (2 nights)
Trailhead: Cable Cove boat ramp (Nantahala NF)

The kids started school in the middle of August and I started teaching at the end of the month. And soccer started which means I am now coaching 3 different teams, backpacking takes a backseat until November. But Labor Day weekend means no school on Monday and no soccer games on Sat or Sun. So, let's do one last trip to wrap up summer. I've been wanting to do another kayaking trip on Fontana Lake and I also wanted to take my oldest (9.5 years old) on a trip by herself.

The weather forecast called for afternoon thunderstorms every day, somewhat standard for the beginning of September. We had a little bit of rain as we got close to the lake, but not too bad. We got to the boat ramp and got set up and launched at about 3pm with lots of clouds in the sky. About 5 minutes of paddling and the sky opened up on us with lots of wind/rain and some thunder. Thankfully the wind/rain was at our backs and after about 20 minutes of paddling we were out of the rain and not hearing thunder, but there was a stretch where I was questioning my judgement and wondering if we should head back to the ramp.

Looks good in front...

... not so much behind us

All smooth paddling now

Another hour or so of paddling and we had reached Site 81 in the GSMNP which was going to be home for the next two nights. Unfortunately, there was a boat already there and they (two men and two young boys) had taken the site closest to the water. We did not have much stuff and it is a short walk to the next site, so it wasn't a big deal, it just made it more difficult to easily enjoy the water view.

We setup camp and relaxed a bit and then my daughter mentioned that she wanted to play on the bear cables. In the past, she has has put her foot in the loop and I pull her up a little bit. I mentioned that she was getting too big/heavy for me to do this and we probably would not do it on our next trip. She then decided to try to pull herself up, I said go ahead but I did not think she was strong enough. The next thing I know, she somehow falls, lands flat on her back and knocks the wind out of herself. She landed hard enough that she was hyper-ventilating a bit and her lips started to turn purple. Scared me to death, but I got her breathing deeply and she laid in the tent for a bit and recovered. After a bit, she said she felt a little stiff and wanted to walk around a bit, so we wandered back to see the other people near by.

It turned out that they had taken the boat for a sunset cruise so there was no one to talk to. There campfire was still smoldering so I gathered a little wood and we borrowed their fire ring for a little bit. When they got back after dark, they were happy to see a fire already waiting for them.and we ended up sharing their campfire and talking for a bit before turning in.

The next morning I slept in a bit and then got up to read and leave her sleeping. She ended up sleeping until 9am. After a bit, we got back on the water. I had the idea of paddling a bit and then hiking to check out a couple of the old cemeteries. So, we paddled for about an hour and a half over to where Pilkey Creek drains into the lake. I had passed this way in March on the Lakeshore Trail, so I knew there was a road/path from the lake. We swam in the lake to cool off and then had lunch and then hiked about a mile up to Pilkey and Posey Cemeteries.




We talked a little bit about the history of the area and I told her what I had read about Decoration Days and then she spent a little time neatening things up a bit.

Pilkey Cemetery has about 30 grave sites, a lot are infants or young children, but one was a woman who lived to be 103 years old!

Posey Cemetery has 5 (or 6) grave sites, 4 kids (all born in the very early 1900s) and 1 adult (William Posey). There is another gravestone in the back that was also William Posey, but with a different birthdate, but same year of death. Somewhat odd, but William Posey died before any of the 4 kids were born and there are no other graves.

After relaxing in the shade for a bit, we headed back to the shore, where I jumped in again to cool off. Then we paddled back to camp and then she paddled the kayak by herself for a little bit while I read on the shore and took a couple photos with my camera.




The other boat came back and she helped the younger boy try to find worms for fishing, that occupied them for about a half hour and then he got a hot dog from his dad, still did not catch anything, but the two of them seemed happy. Then dinner and we again visited the neighbors and their campfire.

The next morning we took our time packing up but were on the water by 10, about an hour and a half later we were at the boat ramp. Not far out of the way was Tapaco Lodge, I had seen their sign mention pizza on previous trips, but had never stopped. This seemed like the perfect time to check it out. On a previous trip we had decided that we were going to celebrate our backpacking trip with a "celebration pizza" and she wanted pepperoni and olives. So one "celebration pizza" and then a very long drive home with lots of holiday traffic and idiotic drivers.

When I asked her what she liked best, she said the cemeteries and the paddling. It was a great way to spend a long weekend. And a great way to end summer.
 

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DrNed

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#2
On a previous trip we had decided that we were going to celebrate our backpacking trip with a "celebration pizza" and she wanted pepperoni and olives.
I certain my kids only go on adventures with me so they can have "celebration pizza" afterwards.

I'm fascinated by the cemetery. I'm guessing this is a family cemetery that is
now on public land?
 
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I certain my kids only go on adventures with me so they can have "celebration pizza" afterwards.

I'm fascinated by the cemetery. I'm guessing this is a family cemetery that is
now on public land?
The north shore of Fontana Lake is now the southern border of Great Smoky Mountains NP. It is a long story, but basically when Fontana Dam was finished at the end of WW2, the main road in the area was flooded which meant that everyone in the area had to move out. I think @scatman had family in the area. The park and federal gov't promised the county that after the war a new road would be built, but it ended up being more expensive than expected and the road was never finished past the tunnel at the end of the "Road to nowhere".

In the late 90s, there was a push to finish the road, but the county ended up accepting a cash payment instead of a road. A lot of people are still pretty pissed even though a road would have ruined one of the largest roadless area east of the Mississippi. The cemeteries have been sort of maintained by the park since the early 80s, but the gravestones have been replaced or fixed by locals during "Decoration Days". Basically, a bunch of people meet at one of the boat ramps on the lake and a boat (paid for by the park) will ferry them across to one of the access points maintained by the park and then they will walk up to the cemetery (In some areas, the cemetery is pretty far from the lakeshore and the park will bring in some ATVs or in the Hazel Creek area, they have an old school bus), neaten things up and then have a bit of a religious gathering (sings some old hymns, a couple prayers,...) and then everyone digs into a big potluck lunch. I've never been because I'm an outsider, I live in KY not NC and I'm not religious at all.

here is a photo of the tunnel at the end of the "Road to Nowhere"


Some of the cemeteries are pretty big (50 - 100 graves) so not really a family cemetery, but everyone is probably, sort of related to everyone else and some are small (2-5 graves).

The Bradshaw Cemetery outside of the old town of Proctor is pretty big


And so is the Proctor Cemetery


This is the cemetery at the end of the Bone Valley trail (up Hazel Creek)


This is another Cemetery closer to the tunnel, I can't remember the name right now. This is also what a lot of them look like because on Decoration Days, the locals clear away all of the growth and "remound" or build up each grave site. This was Labor Day weekend in 2015, my oldest was doing a little bit of neatening.


That is probably way more than you wanted to know about the Fontana Cemeteries, but I find the history of the area to be fascinating and sad.
 

Jackson

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#4
The north shore of Fontana Lake is now the southern border of Great Smoky Mountains NP. It is a long story, but basically when Fontana Dam was finished at the end of WW2, the main road in the area was flooded which meant that everyone in the area had to move out. I think @scatman had family in the area. The park and federal gov't promised the county that after the war a new road would be built, but it ended up being more expensive than expected and the road was never finished past the tunnel at the end of the "Road to nowhere".

In the late 90s, there was a push to finish the road, but the county ended up accepting a cash payment instead of a road. A lot of people are still pretty pissed even though a road would have ruined one of the largest roadless area east of the Mississippi. The cemeteries have been sort of maintained by the park since the early 80s, but the gravestones have been replaced or fixed by locals during "Decoration Days". Basically, a bunch of people meet at one of the boat ramps on the lake and a boat (paid for by the park) will ferry them across to one of the access points maintained by the park and then they will walk up to the cemetery (In some areas, the cemetery is pretty far from the lakeshore and the park will bring in some ATVs or in the Hazel Creek area, they have an old school bus), neaten things up and then have a bit of a religious gathering (sings some old hymns, a couple prayers,...) and then everyone digs into a big potluck lunch. I've never been because I'm an outsider, I live in KY not NC and I'm not religious at all.

here is a photo of the tunnel at the end of the "Road to Nowhere"


Some of the cemeteries are pretty big (50 - 100 graves) so not really a family cemetery, but everyone is probably, sort of related to everyone else and some are small (2-5 graves).

The Bradshaw Cemetery outside of the old town of Proctor is pretty big


And so is the Proctor Cemetery


This is the cemetery at the end of the Bone Valley trail (up Hazel Creek)


This is another Cemetery closer to the tunnel, I can't remember the name right now. This is also what a lot of them look like because on Decoration Days, the locals clear away all of the growth and "remound" or build up each grave site. This was Labor Day weekend in 2015, my oldest was doing a little bit of neatening.


That is probably way more than you wanted to know about the Fontana Cemeteries, but I find the history of the area to be fascinating and sad.
I'm fascinated by that history as well. I've spent some good chunks of time studying maps and reading about it. Someday I'll get over there and see some of it.
 

Miya

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#5
Sounds like such a special trip that she will always remember!

Visiting cemeteries is always a unique experience. Always makes me sad to see so many young deaths though.
Thanks for sharing!
 

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