bernsteinauthor_photolores.jpgby Danny Bernstein –

As I cross Basin Creek yet one more time on my way to Caudill Cabin, I carefully place my left foot and then my right between rocks and wonder where the drought is now that I could use it. It’s a warm mid-summer day and I’m in one of the most remote areas I’ve been in. Well, not that remote. The Blue Ridge Parkway is only a few miles above me, but here in the back of Doughton Park, there’s nobody. I pass the remains of a chimney, a grinding wheel, and rock foundations – this was a busy place before the 1916 flood wiped out the community.

When I get to the cabin surrounded by pasture land, my first reaction is “These folks didn’t get out very much.” This dark one-room cabin without windows housed a family with fourteen children. Two books are nailed to the wall and I pull out a flashlight to read the Caudill family genealogy and sign my name. The person who signed in before me came three weeks ago.

Not all hikes in Hiking North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Heritage are in such isolated places. On the way to Winston-Salem, I detoured to Pilot Mountain State Park and was enthralled with its wedding cake cone rising out of the Piedmont valley. Hiking Stone Mountain State Park, I met a local hiker who told me about Stone Mountain’s moonshine past. He took me to a field of barrels, jerrycans, and rubber hoses a few feet from the trail.

The mountains are literally the foundation of Blue Ridge Heritage. As historians say, “History is never just about the past. It’s about how history helps to shape today.” There are many good history books on our mountains but I’m looking at the history of the land from a hiker’s perspective. By walking we can understand the need for protecting the land in perpetuity. My mission is to get people out of their cars, into the woods and hiking.