Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tale of Three Valleys Part III - Yadkin & Catawba

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Checking out the abandoned hang glider launch on Hibriten Mountain - looking northwest into the Yadkin Valley and the Blue Ridge Escarpment up to Blowing Rock, NC
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After our jaunt up the mountain, we returned to the foothills for a few more days of R&R (all of this brought on by day care closure!). The Yadkin and Catawba Valleys of western North Carolina are hard to tell apart by anyone who hasn't looked at a topographic map or spent a significant amount of time there. The very large Catawba Valley surrounds the Catawba River, a river at least 1000' feet wide in the piedmont. Just a few miles to the northeast, the western end of the Yadkin Valley (and its River) sits a little higher, and is topographically separated from Catawba by the diminuitive Brushy Mountains, including Hibriten Mountain and Cajah's Mountain. Interestingly, the rivers run parallel to each other all the way to the ocean - the Yadkin joining up with the Pee Dee River, and the Catawba emptying into the Santee River watershed.
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The foothills area has a fascinating history, from Native American migrations (voluntary and forced), to colonial exploration, to some vicious pain suffered through the Civil War, to the area's current return to economic depression after the collapse of American furniture manufacturing in the last 10 years, followed by a collapse in real estate values and a steep drop in government employment.
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Expectedly, historians of the area are highly focused on the two valleys' contribution to the Civil War, which this educational site still refers to as The War Between The States. Interestingly, little Union vs. Confederacy action took place here, but the cost of the war - in blood - was still high. The foothills region of North Carolina sent tens of thousands of young men - or many more - to support Lee's and Jackson's Virginia campaigns during the war. Many never returned home. This area also was home to the notorious "Confederate Home Guard" - who did some dastardly things under the auspices of maintaining law and order during war time. The Home Guard was depicted quite powerfully in Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain (which was set, and is located, about 35 miles south of the Swannanoa Valley described in my last post).
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But back to the outdoors! With temperatures continually in the 98-104 range, we avoided most outdoor activity. Most. However, the Swampinator here did manage to wrangle up a dozen guns, 500 rounds, two 4-wheelers, a section of private forest, and a few friends for an afternoon.

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It was only 99 in the shade (where we set up).....103 in the sun!
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For whatever reason, I had not brought any of my guns, which was a real bummer. I did get to try several other guns, though! I did fairly well with a Mossberg 500 turkey 20ga and my buddy Rob's 870 Express in 12ga (nearly identical to my Old Faithful Goose Gun...which was also my clays gun until 2007!). I produced less exciting results while behind a 26" 12ga Stoeger Condor, 28" Stoeger Condor, and a 1943 Ithaca side-by-side. And if that shooting wasn't marginal enough, I went 0 for 5 with a .410. 0 for 5!
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It was really great to get out for an afternoon, in the woods, and focus on shooting mechanics. I can only imagine how much my shooting would improve if I shot 10 rounds of clays at one time, maybe once a month. And in the end, it was a great way to wrap up our "day care closure mandated vacation." I definitely look forward to future trips when ol' Hank can join me - or even join me in some other outdoor activity he'd rather be doing. Hell, I'm game.

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2 comments:

Leigh said...

Loving the view! How amazing that must of felt... but I love mountains. ;)
-Leigh

Swamp Thing said...

I was surprised how great that view was - my wife used to hike up there with her grandfather, but in the 12 years I've known here, I've never been up there.

It was a good mountain trip, so who knows, maybe my attitude will change over time?

My love for all things swampy is so strong though!