Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Whiteside Mountain

The vertical cliffs of Whiteside Mountain are indeed impressive and a popular destination for rock climbers. The largest is more than 1,000 feet, among the highest shear cliffs in the Eastern United States.

Located in neighboring Jackson County, Whiteside Mountain is said to be the oldest mountain in the U.S., perhaps the oldest mountain in the world. Geologists date the mountain to be around four hundred million years old. It is well known that the Appalachian Mountains are among the oldest mountains, so perhaps Whiteside is THE oldest. I should like to think it is. The mountain began under the earth as molten rock. Like many other "rock-faced" mountains in our area, it slowly came to life after thousands and thousands of years of erosion left the molten rock as a prominence.

At 4,930 feet, Whiteside Mountain is far from the tallest mountain in the Appalachians, but the dramatic white cliffs make it one of the most interesting. The mountain was originally part of the Cherokee Nation and lies within the Nantahala National Forest, which borders Pisgah National Forest in our county.

There are several hiking trails up Whiteside. One is strenuous, going straight up. Another winds around the mountain and was formerly a logging trail. This makes the mountain accessible by novice hikers and an acceptable challenge by experienced hikers as well.

Peregrine Falcons used to soar in these mountains, and now they are soaring again. Re-introduced in 1985, the Peregrines are thriving as they did when the Cherokee roamed these hills. The trails and rock faces near nesting sites are closed to hikers and climbers during Peregrine nesting season. Most people are respectful of this, and visitors are quick to report any violaters. We love the sight of Peregrines flying through our mountains.

Whiteside Mountain lies between two affluent communites; Highlands and Cashiers. Both have long been known as summer playgrounds for the rich (and famous). One method of spotting a tourist (as if you need one) is to hear them pronounce Cashiers. Almost universally they will pronounce the town "casheers." The locals know the town is pronounced "cashers."
----------The economy is affecting these communities just like others; it's just a little harder to feel sorry for the really rich people who have damaged a mountain for a view. Many of them are trying to sell their expensive summer homes and condos. Some are offering a free car and free golf memberships for a year to anyone who will purchase their homes. Who would have thought you would ever see the day? Discounted houses in Highlands and Cashiers?


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

That's such a beautiful area.

George said...

We've been through Cashiers and Highlands several times (just passing through -- not staying), so I know what you mean about not feeling sorry for some of those homeowners. I think we'll just stay here on our Plateau. Whiteside Mountain (and the whole area) is beautiful, however.

Anonymous said...

Great photos. I always love to see bare rock out in the open like that.

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Oh how tempting, Carolyn. To me that is one of the prettiests area of the NC mountains. I'd love to live there---but we also love it here.

Not being a local, I didn't know that Cashiers was pronounced Cashers. I'll get it right from now on. It's like people calling New Orleans---New Orleens. Yipes!!!!

Thanks for the great post.

Cedar ... said...

We have Whiteface Mt. here in the Adirondacks. It is a ski center and was the ski venue for winter Olymics in 1932 and 1980. Your Whiteside looks like tough stuff for rock climbers.

EcoRover said...

Nice observation on the newcomers. We see the same boom-bust 3rd/4th/etc home cycle here in Montana, plus the occasional fierce winter that scares folks away.

Cheryl said...

What a beautiful post....reading about the history of the mountain made me tingle......and imagining the peregrines flying through them again, took me away in daydream mode.......

Shelley said...

Glad to hear the peregrines are protected - it must be amazing to see them flying there! I always enjoy the mountain photos and appreciate the history you provide. Sounds like a nice place to visit!

Dawn Fine said...

Lovely neck of the woods...
Great post on the geology, history and the peregrines
Humm.. maybe its time to start looking at property.

Ruth said...

The cliffs remind me of the limestone rock faces of the Niagara Escarpment. Limestone is not a very stable rock though and I wouldn't want to hook into a loose piece if I was climbing. I dislike being near the edge of rock edges like this but enjoy them from a distance.

Pam B said...

Thanks for sharing that, Carolyn. I'm a native North Carolinian and didn't know the correct way to say "Cashiers". Thanks for the lesson!

Kim said...

Beautiful photos of the mountains. I hope to see that area myself someday.

Donna said...

Great photos and what a beautiful area.

The Birdlady said...

I don't think I've seen this one - thanks for sharing your lovely photos.

Karen said...

I've been hiking in that area when I was in college (WCU). Beautiful! Also worked in Cashiers at High Hampton. Hard work, but got some nice tips. :)

NCmountainwoman said...

Lynne - Yes, it is beautiful except that in winter one can see far too many houses built right on the ridgeline.

George - I suppose I should feel sorry for anyone who feels compelled to sell ONE of their many multi-million dollar homes.

Science guy - That is one reason I love winter in the mountains. Many of the rock faces are hard to see when the foliage is full.

Betsy - I have no idea why the named is not pronounced like it is spelled.

Cedar - All of the rock faces look like tough stuff to me.

Ecorover - I have nothing against people with so many homes. Just against the ones who build them on the ridge line and destroy the very environment that we love so much.

Cheryl - Seeing the mountains also puts me in daydream mode. When I stand there and think about the people who stood on that very place so many centuries ago, I am awestruck.

Shelley - We now have Peregrines all over the mountains and I am glad the nests are so well protected.

Dawn - There are definitely bargains to be had in this economy.

Ruth - I don't like being near the edges either. I shudder when I see folks sitting on the edge of a cliff, legs hanging over like a child.

Pam - So glad you are with the program now. Even my husband slips now and then and calls it "casheers."

Kallen - I hope everyone can come to see our mountains. I think more folks would be environmentally conscious if they see such grandeur.

Donna - Thanks. And thanks for dropping by.

Helen - There are just so many mountains and so little time. There are plenty that I haven't seen either.

Karen - Working at the High Hampton Inn is quite a great summer job. You were lucky indeed.

100 Thoughts of Love said...

I almost don't blame the people as much as i blame the stae....north carolins is my favorite state as far as beauty goes. But they don't do much to protect that beauty. they allow (or have in the recent past)too much building on the ridges and mountain sides. And they are allowing too much valley land to go to the spoils of subdivisions. I do wish I could capitalize on it though and buy a little house there....someday, SOMEDAY !