Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner

Friday morning and we have to do the needful; do the washing, organize how we’re going to get to Clifftop tomorrow, and book some accommodation for the weekend. I pop into town to meet one of the musicians from the old-time jam the other night. Over more chat about music, I’m given a syllabus of who to study over the next few years; people like Tommy Jerrell, Fred Cockerhan, Esker Hutchins. This is great; and is going to save me literally years of work trying to figure out a music tradition from a distance. To all the old-time musicians a big heartfelt thanks from all of us.


That afternoon we make the drive to Chimney Rock. We’re pushed for time as we have something special on the horizon tonight, but we want to see one last local attraction before we’re off tomorrow. The drive to the national park is more winding than anything we’ve gone on before, but along the way we get to see many of the rural homesteads dotted on either side of the route. They are humble, neat and often beautifully appointed wooden cabins. Many have ornate porches made from locally carved woods. On quite a few we see old timers sitting out on a rocker lazing in the afternoon sun. You can just hear that old-time banjo strum.

Chimney Rock is quite a sight. It’s a natural park surrounding a 315 foot natural rock spire that stands imposingly over a deep gorge. We have half an hour to make the climb and we’re drenched in sweat on the way up. The humidity is high and we’re not getting much relief from the breeze. But when we make the top it’s all worth it. The view is spectacular. You feel like a preacher on the largest pulpit know to man. The gorge below is deep and steep. And it’s flooded with greens, blues and a slick of silver where a large central river meanders through its lowest point. It was from the shifting tectonic plates below this point that the Appalachian mountains were born. Lake Lure opens up into the horizon. For all you movie fans out there, this is the lake where the famous water dance scene in Dirty Dancing was filmed. Patrick Swayze we salute you.

On the way down we don’t get much relief from the heat so we make a short stop in ‘Moonshiner’s Cave’, a deep, steep crack into the very heart of the mountain. The cold air has pooled down here and it’s positively cold. We sit in the dark for ten minutes or more and the girls break out into song and pay homage to the dark forces that created this strange and beautiful place.