71st NC Rhododendron Festival June 16-17

Don’t Miss our mountain turning pink for the NC Rhododendron Festival this year! The 600 acres of Catawba Rhododendron atop Roan Mountain are poised to display their peak beauty during the Festival.

The two day event will feature a car show, crafts festival, 10K run, golf tournament, pageant and street dances.  Check out www.bakersville.com for all of the details and schedules!

Spruce Pine & The Masters: Over 40 years of history

www.themasters.com
by Sam Greenwood

There are 44 bunkers at Augusta National, each majestic and hazardous in its own right. The glistening sands look impossibly white, radiating in such a way that only nature could produce something so pristine.

Which is exactly what happened.

It’s called “Spruce Pine sand,” named for the mining district in Western North Carolina in which it’s found. It’s actually quartz, and it’s so pure that it prevents golf balls from burrowing into devious lies and has played a major role in computer technology.

The sand has filled these bunkers for the past 40 Masters, ever since Augusta National co-Founder Clifford Roberts was moved by its texture and how it contrasted beautifully with the emerald fairways and shimmering ponds of Augusta National.

 

Photo by: Sam Greenwood/Augusta National
Rory McIlroy hits from the fairway bunker on No. 2 during the final round of the 2011 Masters Tournament

 

“I’d rake it with my hand if I needed to,” said Jim “Bones” Mackay, the caddie for Phil Mickelson. “It fits the place so well. It brings out the green in the grass. It plays very, very well. You don’t hear about guys complaining about lies or balls getting away from them out of the bunkers.”

Of those 44 bunkers, 32 stand guard around greens and 12 are located in fairways. Nos. 3 and 7 have the most bunkers (five each) and No. 14 is the only hole without one. Whether they realize it from the tee or not, players face 10 holes in which they don’t have to worry about any fairway bunkers.

They are basically distributed evenly across the course. The first nine has 15 bunkers surrounding greens and nine in fairways; the second nine includes 17 at the greens and three in fairways.

“They give you certain holes you can aim for a bunker and still give yourself a good chance to get up and down for par or birdie,” said Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion.

 “It’s very soft on top and has a firm base,” Johnson said of the sand. “You can’t necessarily spin it a ton, but it’s pure. What’s great about it is you have substantial high lips, but you won’t see a ball plug. Ever. It’ll hit the bank and go back to the middle of the bunker or go through it.”  

Those were Roberts’ thoughts, too, after he first saw the stunning white sand in the early 1970s, when it was being used at courses in  Western North Carolina. He liked its look and texture so much that he ordered truckloads of the sand delivered and installed in time for the 1975 Tournament.

“I’d rake it with my hand if I needed to.” – Caddie Bones Mackay

“On those greens, you have to be so precise,” said Mike Weir, who won the Masters in 2003. “The ball comes out a little slower. You have to be more aggressive with it. It’s very consistent sand. You have to get in there and get used to it, because it is a little different feel and requires a different touch.”

At first, the sand was viewed as a cheap waste product of feldspar, a valuable mineral extracted and used in making aluminum and ceramic products.

Scientists soon learned, though, that the sand was quartz, and an extremely pure version of it at that. Its makeup created a firm surface, and its pureness was such that Spruce Pine quartz is used in manufacturing semiconductors; computer chips throughout the world contain it. 

The sand often is identified with Augusta National, but the Club doesn’t hold the mineral rights and there’s no patent given for quartz.

“I’ve certainly heard people say, ‘Oh, this is Augusta-like sand,’ but I don’t think I’ve seen it somewhere else,” Mackay said.

Scott K. Brown/Augusta National
Lee Westwood on No. 10 during the second round of the 2011 Masters Tournament.

 

The huge fairway bunker at No. 10 is arguably Augusta National’s most recognizable and photographed. It’s almost 400 yards off the tee, at the bottom of the hole’s steep slope, and it used to protect a green that was moved back to its current position in 1937. If a player lands in there, he mishit or even shanked his second shot.

“There’s no way you should be in it,” said Johnson. “You really don’t want to hit that trap.”

Among the par-4 holes with bunkers players fear the most: the fairway bunker at No. 5; the back bunker at Nos. 7; and the fairway bunker at No. 18.

On the par 3s, the bunker behind the green at No. 12 leaves a player with a treacherous downhill shot while staring at Rae’s Creek in front of him; and both greenside bunkers at the long fourth hole.

“You basically don’t want to shortside yourself around any of the greens,” Weir said.

On the par 5s, the back bunker at No. 13, especially to a front hole location, is the one fraught with the most danger.

“The green is sloping away from you towards the creek, and like No. 12, you’re looking at the water,” Weir said.

Augusta National hasn’t significantly altered the layout of its strategically placed bunkers over the 79-year history of the Tournament.  However, in contrast, No. 9 initially had one big greenside bunker, then five of various sizes, then in the late 1940s it was restructured with three. Now, two are located greenside.

The 14th has been bunker-less since 1952; prior to that, the hole had just one, which was largely out of play near the tee. The 15th did not have a bunker until 1957, when, at the suggestion of Ben Hogan, one was put to the right of the green.

And in them all for the past 40 years, there has been sand so pure that players never complain about buried lies.

Spruce Pine’s Knife & Fork Restaurant Makes Our State Top 7 List

Our State Magazine is highlighting their Top 7 Farm to Table Restaurants in North Carolina and we weren’t surprised to see our own Knife & Fork Restaurant on the list. 

The folks at Our State Magazine say  “Some might scratch their heads at the existence of a farm-to-table restaurant in a town with just over 2,000 residents, but to chef Nate Allen, Knife and Fork’s location in Spruce Pine makes perfect sense. “We’re really in an agricultural promise land here,” Allen says. The restaurant’s proximity to so many of its farmers allows for an innovative menu that changes daily. Allen appreciates the creative opportunity that comes with using seasonal ingredients, and he enjoys showcasing the plants he uses in their entirety. “I get such beautiful products. I don’t want to chop them into little cubes,” he says. Try Knife and Fork’s regularly featured spicy kettle corn. Mixed with turnips sautéed with garlic and olive oil, this side dish has a nice bite to it.”

KNIFE AND FORK
61 Locust St., Spruce Pine • knifeandforknc.com • (828) 765-1511

Trout Season Opens April 1st in WNC

 

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will open Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters in 25 western counties at 7 a.m. on April 1. The season will run through Feb. 28, 2018.

While fishing on Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters, anglers can harvest a maximum of seven trout per day, with no minimum size limits or bait restrictions.

To give trout anglers opportunities to plan fishing trips in advance, the Commission has posted on its website a Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters stocking schedule that provides information on what weeks each water is being stocked. Anglers can search by county and by month. The agency also posts daily updates at noon for all waters stocked that day. Information can be searched by county, by month, or both.

Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters, marked by green-and-white signs, are stocked from March until August every year, depending on the individual stream. Many of these waters are stocked monthly, although some heavily fished waters are stocked more frequently. 

Commission personnel will stock nearly 916,000 trout in 2017 — 96 percent of which average 10 inches in length, with the other 4 percent exceeding 14 inches in length.

Stocked trout are produced primarily at two mountain region fish hatcheries operated by the Commission and are distributed along hatchery-supported streams where public access for fishing is available. While Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters are open to public fishing, many of those miles are privately owned so the Commission urges anglers to respect the property they’re fishing on and remember that landowners can take away access if they feel their property is being misused.  Anglers can help prevent the loss of public access to fishing by:

  • Respecting private property and landowners at all times;
  • Removing all trash and litter from fishing and parking areas;
  • Parking only in designated areas and leaving driveways open for traffic;
  • Closing and/or locking gates after use; and,
  • Reporting wildlife violations by calling 1-800-662-7137.

For a complete list of all Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters, as well as trout maps, weekly stocking schedule, and daily stocking updates on Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters, visit the Commission’s trout fishing page.

Looking for where to fish on public waters?  Would you love a map for each one?  Look no further! Click here to see all of the public mountain trout waters in Mitchell County! https://ncpaws.org/pmtws/TroutSearchResults.aspx

Asheville Trail Features Their Favorite Roan Mtn Hikes

“Hike through abundant high-elevation beauty at Roan Mountain, a series of five mountain summits on the Appalachian Trail near the NC / TN state line. With gorgeous views, lush forest and abundant wildflowers, the remarkable beauty of Roan’s highlands, knob and bluff make for an exceptional hiking adventure.”

Appalachian Trails highlights their favorite eight hikes on Roan Mountain.  Ranging from 2.4 to a little over 10 miles, each of these hikes offer something unique.  They detail out their favorite hikes including those crisscrossing the Appalachian Trail, to those offering “exceptional 360-degree summit views at Round Bald, Jane Bald, and Grassy Ridge Bald.”

 

“Hike through the Roan Highlands to outstanding summit views from soaring mountains, through mossy, rocky forests, and to sun-drenched fields of wild berries on the Appalachian Trail. And explore the Roan Mountain’s forested beauty on Roan High Bluff and Roan High Knob, visiting the historic site of the Cloudland Hotel and the historic Roan High Bluff AT shelter, the highest-elevation shelter on the Appalachian Trail. The mountains’ beauty is wildly varied, continually changing, and well worth the visit: Roan Mountain is home to some of our all-time favorite hikes in western North Carolina.”

If Roan Mountain, NC isn’t on your bucket list…it should be.  Great hikes and experiences for families, experienced hikers and those of all ages.  Don’t miss stopping in Bakersville, NC for a quick bite to eat at a local diner or shopping for handcrafted NC art at one of the galleries and studios. 

Dellinger’s Grist Mill: An Experience in History, Grits & NASA

Dellinger’s Grist Mill is one of those “must experience” places….not just in Mitchell County, but in the State.  Maybe in the country.  You are guaranteed to walk away with a new hero and friend in master miller Jack Dellinger and hopefully with a bag of fresh ground grits!

Located in picturesque Bakersville, NC, Dellinger’s Grist Mill is one of only a very few historic mills in the state of North Carolina still operating.  It is operated by 4th generation miller Jack Dellinger. This scenic 1867 landmark is on the National Historic Register. “It runs just like it did in the 1800s,” Dellinger says. “I use the same wheel, gears, pulleys and millstones that my ancestors did,” Dellinger told The Laurel of Asheville magazine.  He grinds and sells white grits and cornmeal and—after being educated about it by a friend—polenta, what some call Italian grits.

Edible Brooklyn calls a bag of Dellinger’s freshly ground grits “worth their weight in potential luggage fees.”

Jack Dellinger conducts tours, loves when field trips come to visit, and grinds on most days weather permitting.  You can check out the Dellinger Grist Mill schedule at their website Dellinger’s Grist Mill.  When you visit….be sure to ask Jack about how he helped NASA put the first men on the moon!

 

 

 

Roan Mountain Named Best of the Blue Ridge

Featured

The readers of Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine have spoken! They have chosen Roan Mountain as the Best of the Blue Ridge’s Best Appalachian Trail section.

Appalachian Trail Section

Roan Mountain

“Appalachian Trail thru-hikers often gripe and groan about the “green tunnel” that is the A.T., but Roan Mountain makes up for all of those long canopied miles with its expansive views and grassy balds. Situated on the literal border between North Carolina and Tennessee, the massif is home to a number of peaks 5,500 feet in elevation or higher. Because of this, hiking Roan’s balds is about the closest you can get to an above-treeline alpine trekking experience—spruce fir trees, rhododendron gardens, and ample amounts of snow turn this southern Appalachian anomaly into an arctic-like landscape come wintertime.”

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Roan’s Grassy Bald Named One of 7 Best Sunset Summits

“Few things cap off a long day in the mountains like catching the perfect sunset from your favorite summit. The Blue Ridge is known for spectacular sunsets and Western North Carolina is no exception. Western North Carolina is renowned for its breathtaking viewpoints, most of which make for an ideal spot to catch an Appalachian sunset.’

In the list of Top 7 Best Sunset Summits, Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine names Hump Mountain as one of the best.

“This grassy bald  can be found in the Roan Highlands near the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. It is traversed by the Appalachian Trail and, like many of the sunset summits on our list, provides a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.” For detailed directions click here.

Mayland Community College Becomes First Certified Star Park in Southeast

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) designated the Mayland Community College Blue Ridge Star Park and Observatory as the first IDA-certified Star Park in the southeastern United States. The Blue Ridge Astronomy Group (BRAG), a local amateur astronomy society, was instrumental in supporting MCC’s application to the Dark Sky Places Program.

The MCC Blue Ridge Star Park and Observatory is the first program participant:

  • located in the southeastern United States;
  • operated under the auspices of an institution of higher learning; and
  • whose outdoor lighting consists entirely of fully-shielded, low-color-temperature light emitting diode (LED) fixtures at the time the IDA award is conferred.

For more information contact Mayland Community College http://www.mayland.edu/starpark

 

Spruce Pine & Little Switzerland on Top 20 List of Coolest Small Towns

RomanticAsheville.com named Spruce Pine and Little Switzerland to the list of the coolest small towns near Asheville. “We love exploring our cool small towns nestled in the mountains in western North Carolina, filled with historic buildings with a mix of longtime family operated stores and restaurants, along with new galleries and trendy shops. Each town has its own personality and many things to do. Meet some local folks and experience a leisurely day of exploration. Since many are in close proximity, you can visit several in a day,” said RomanticAsheville’s news posting.

When announcing Spruce Pine as one of the top 25, they highlighted downtown Spruce Pine with its unique ‘’upper” and “lower” streets as well as its outstanding browsing of art galleries, outfitters, and public art projects.  They also mentioned the Toe River Studio Tours held every June and December where visitors can take a self guided tour to over a hundred artists’ studios.

For more information about downtown Spruce Pine visit http://downtownsprucepine.com/Festivals.html

 

 

RomanticAsheville.com calls Little Switzerland a great stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway for its unique restaurants, shops, and inns as well as gem mining. Stops at the Museum of NC Minerals and Grassy Creek Falls are also included as special stops near Little Switzerland.

For more information about Little Switzerland visit http://visitlittleswitzerland.com/

 

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