Monday, February 24, 2014

William Bartram through the Lens of Brent Martin and a Hike on the Hall Mountain Tract

We were treated to some relatively balmy weather on Thursday, the 20th of February for Brent Martin's riveting presentation on William Bartram, a hero to many plant lovers.  A long time student of Bartram, Brent's passion and enthusiasm for this fascinating character ignited our own! Sitting among the historical echoes of Rickman's Store for the lecture and lunch was the ideal setting.   Here are some of the books he recommended and I just now realized I failed to get a shot of the most precious one he brought--an over sized collection of Bartam's actual botanical drawings!


Following lunch, we drove out to the recently acquired 108 acre Hall Mountain Tract where Jill Gottesman gave us an inside look of what it took to obtain this amazing chunk of sacred landscapeand return it to the Cherokee Indians to be used as a community forest, providing educational and recreational opportunities while maintaining the unbroken forested view from the Cowee Mound. At one point along the path, Brent pointed out the place where the Cowee Mountain Range meets the Nantahala Forest with the Little Tennessee dividing the two.  It brought home to me how vastly fortunate we are to be living in this area where history and our natural world are so treasured.  The view at the top was pretty awesome as well!  The photos below don't begin to do it justice. We talked about how that landscape would have looked to Bartram, who described “the great vale of Cowe, exhibiting one of the most charming natural mountainous landscapes perhaps anywhere to be seen”. After that, a group of folks visited the Cowee Mound, which was the site of the Council House which Bartram described as “a large rotunda, capable of accommodating several hundred people” After enjoying the circular view from the mound, the group saw the nearby rock that has grinding holes, where the Cherokee ground corn and other crops. This 70 acre tract was returned to Cherokee ownership in 2007, one more amazing testimony to the efforts of people like Brent and Jill to preserve our local heritage.  You can read more about it here and here. 



Compiled by Kathy Stilwell