Whitetop to Beech Mountain

by - December 01, 2018

Every year we alternate which side of the family we spend Thanksgiving with. This year it was the Rollins side, and Mom and Dad wanted to meet up in Whitetop, VA rather than Chattanooga, TN. My parents rented a second place down 58 and had my brother and our families stay at their place on Pond Mountain. My sister has been going hard since having her third baby girl this past summer, so she and her family stayed back in Chattanooga. The food was excellent and the time together was warm and fun.

About 30 minutes after we arrived on Wednesday, Andy excused himself from the table and reappeared decked out in hunting gear. When we were in Chattanooga two years ago, he was stalking a deer in my parent's field, passed on shooting it the first time it was in range because he didn't want to shock my kids, but eventually shot it and cleaned it back behind the barn. This time, he was gone an hour or so, showed up at the backdoor with a serious look on his face saying he needed a little help. It turns out he had shot a 150 lb, 8 point buck down by the creek and needed help dragging it back up to the cabin. I suppose you could say the trip started off with a bang. Scoops took a turn trying to drag it up the mountain. All the adults took turns hugging the incline and yanking on the rope and spinning out on loose leaves and dirt. Eventually Joe showed up from his run and finished up his cardio with some lifting. This was our view out the dining room window for a couple days, and I will spare you of the shots of my boys standing around gawking at the first thing they'd even seen shot by my brother. Now that the seal has been broken, it won't be the last.  

And now to clean your screen, I discovered a new-to-me plant: the Stag's Horn Sumac. 

We can't go to the mountains without a hike or some sort of adventure. Joe and Andy are on similar wavelengths when it comes to hiking, so our day-after Thanksgiving hike was not a gentle stroll down a winding path. We hiked nearly 5 miles, mostly downhill, which can be argued is rougher on the knees than uphill. It was so cold, blisteringly cold at the bald near the top, but the views were so worth it. Once we were headed down the mountain, the wind calmed and we even had to take off jackets. The surrounding woods were echoing with day-after-Thanksgiving-hunting, so some of the adults who know they should be a little jumpy were a little jumpy. I was blissfully ignorant for the most part and apparently walked by a couple hunters without even being aware of it. 

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