Saturday, July 25—Cherokee and Junaluska, North Carolina

We settled in for the rest of summer, removing the bicycles from the car rack, removing the car rack itself, and unpacking and stowing fly fishing and bicycle accessories stored in the back of the Honda. A late breakfast was followed by a short drive to familiarize ourselves with the area. 

We are at Cross Creek RV Park in Maggie Valley, a small resort town in Haywood County in western NC, about 35 miles west of Asheville. It’s population is less than 1000, though swells in summer with the onslaught of tourists visiting the town, and snowbirds mostly from Florida “summering” here to escape the heat. Both the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains NP are within a few miles. It is a motorcycle town with many riders Harleys and on “slingshots” and “spiders”—3-wheeled motorcycles—riding through town and staying for a few days.. It is also home to Cataloochee Ski Area. The community gets its name from Maggie Mae Setzer; her father John “Jack” Sidney Setzer founded the area’s first post office and named it after one of his daughters.

Our day’s drive took us up the mountain to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the west to its terminus at Cherokee, NC.  Cherokee is the capital of the Eastern Bandof the Cherokee Nation. In the 1870s, the Eastern Band purchased the land for what is called the “Qualla Boundary” in the 1870s. It is another small  resort town adjacent to Great Smoky Mountain NP, and now a gambling town with several large casinos. 

Smoky Mountains as seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway

From Cherokee, it was off to Lake Junaluska, just a few miles east of Magic Valley. Lake Junaluska is formally known as Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center; it is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, but open to all. It’s comprised of 1400 acres, including the 200-acre Junaluska Lake, and has virtually anything one would desire: golf course, rv park, fishing, canoes and kayaks, cycling, tennis courts, etc. We spent the afternoon walking around the lake, a 2.3 mile circuit. The wildflowers and gardens were incredible, and several butterflies were busy nectaring. In that regard, I brought the wrong lens—like taking a knife to a gunfight. However, we will go back, several times, over the next few weeks. We were verbally accosted by a middle-aged runner because we slipped on our masks as he approached—people just don’t get it!

Along the walking path, Lake Junaluska
Along the walking path, Lake Junaluska
Along the walking path, Lake Junaluska
Along the walking path, Lake Junaluska
Lake Junaluska and some of the Retreat and Education Center infrastructure

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