Monday, February 16, 2009

Bald River In Flood Stage: Before And After

The top fotog shows Little Mitten sitting on a rock along the calm waters of the Bald River at the Cascade overlook. I am standing on the rock outcrop and taking her picture. The bottom picture shows the same exact place but in high water, terribly high water. The big flat rock by her head is visible in the lower shot. It was taken on Trip 40 in November 2004 during a 5 day solo backpacking trek where I got caught in a long deluge. I was actually camped about 3 miles upstream before this foto was taken and had to cross it on the Brookshire trail in a near-death traverse. I barely made it across. All this will come later in my trip reports and in this blog.

Bald River Dayhikes

The Bald River Wilderness is a 4000 acre area with a level trail and a beautiful creek, along with a series of rugged waterfalls. Near the end of the 5-6 mile trail there is the Cascades, a group of small falls with a big rock overlook jutting out over the creek. Here we threw down our daypacks and stopped for a picnic lunch.

A Series Of Tennessee Dayhikes

In 2001 Little Mitten and I did a series of exploratory dayhikes in the Cherokee National Forest and thru the Citico and Bald River Wilderness areas. This photo shows a knackered Blade and Little Mitten near the top of the steep North Fork Citico trail.

These two fotogs show us along the rock banks of the North Fork Citico trail as it winds up to Cherry Log Gap and a climb of nearly 3000 feet. The North Fork trail is a wet one, with 9 major crossings and about 12 smaller ones.

This fotog shows Mitten on the Rocky Flats trail in the Citico near the chimney homestead site and depicts how big the old chestnut trees must've been in their glory days before logging and the blight.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Little Mitten At The Tipi

Before I left Boone to go to Little Mitten's, I stopped at the Mast Store and picked up this big 7x9 yellow dome tent made by Iron Mountain. When Little Mitten and I returned to the tipi for a visit, we used this tent and set it up right next to the lodge. This tent would become my new home along Chickasaw Creek on Little Mitten's two acres in Tennessee, at least until I built something better.
During our North Carolina visit, we took a long dayhike along the ridge spine and ended up on a high cow pasture looking out towards Stone Mountain and the TN state line(the far ridge in the background). With us is a stray dog we took in and raised and named Little Cujo. Note also the dual homemade and painted hiking sticks, a leftover from my tipi days.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A New Bag And Tent

In 2001 I made a major upgrade in gear by going to Footsloggers in Boone and buying a new down bag to replace my old North Face Ibex, and a new four season tent to replace my old and shredded Westwind.
I found a dynamite tent made by Mountain Hardwear called the Muir Trail, a frog style modified A-frame which I used on several trips to Pisgah and later in Tennessee.
Long ago CampTrails Bob got a Marmot bag and it stuck with me, so I bought a zero rated down bag by Marmot called the Couloir, and it got me thru many cold nights at the tipi and in Pisgah and hundreds of nights in the Citico/Slickrock wilderness. I still was using the old reliable North Face BackMagic pack. (The above bag foto was taken on a 2001 backpacking trip into the Pisgah forest along the Upper Creek trail at the overlook).

Little Mitten Visits The Tipi

In 2001 Little Mitten comes up to the NC lodge for several days and she gets to see how the better half lives, the "independently poor". She enjoys the peace and quiet and I see a side of her that is like a little kid in a backyard tent. We return for several trips and also explore the woods around her TN homebase, a place I slowly begin to hike in and backpack.

Little Mitten And The Roanoke Powwow

I went to dance at a powwow in Roanoke and met a Cherokee dancer named Little Mitten and we hit it off and got to know each other better over the following weeks. When I got back to my Tipi in NC we corresponded with each other and I called her and eventually went to visit her in east TN, about 200 miles south of Boone. She invited me to move down and set up a primitive camp along Chickasaw Creek, a little area of level land next to a ever-flowing spring. So began my introduction to the Chickasaw Creek Camps and the backpacking trails of the Citico and Slickrock wilderness in the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests.

One Of My Heroes

Indian activist and one-time AIM leader Russell Means popped in at a powwow in Hillsborough, NC, and I managed to get a photo taken with him to my delight. He was at Duke University giving a speech and decided to breeze onto the powwow grounds. Anyone concerned about Indian issues should read his fantastic book, "Where White Men Fear To Tread."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Larger Beaded Bag

This intricate loom design came from several picture sources which I graphed onto bead paper and then added a flying eagle and put a pipe in his talons. To me it shows the holy earth mother protecting her children and welcoming the eagle nation down with the sacred pipe. The background is a rare silver-metal lined greasy white bead I found at a powwow vendor's stand and bought up just enough to finish this piece. It was done on a wide loom and is different than the usual lazy stitch, the loom offering a bit more detail.

Beaded Dance Leggings

I graphed out this lazy stitch bead design from a doll picture and added it to my dance leggings using a color arrangement I liked. To me, beadwork is fulfilling because of the possible color combinations. This design started with a simple white background and used two strong dress colors, greasy yellow and greasy blue. The dentalium-style earings were also in greasy yellow.

The Old Beaded Dance Shirt

My first dance shirt used old loomwork strips different than lazy stitch and easier for a beginner beader to master. The strips are beaded on a loom and transfered and sewn directly onto a garment, much simpler than applying lazy stitch. But the most striking feature of this shirt is the added yellow quillwork around the strip edges and the neck yoke. Working with porcupine quills can be a frustrating and highly fulfilling job when done right. Quills predated glass beads by thousands of years and were one of the first decorations used on primitive garments. They were naturally dyed and worked in an intricate fashion, more difficult than beadwork but lighter and to my mind, giving an ancient awesome feel to a piece of clothing. Modern day quillwork is available but it's expensive and worth every penny.

Beaded Buckskin Bags

Here's a final batch of smaller pouch bags using the moc toe design. The top bag has a few bells and bonepipe on the bottom and uses a greasy blue and yellow with greasy red bars in the middle. The front flap is also edge-beaded, a new technique I was learning from the Cash sisters in Tennessee. The hide is also different than the usual buckskin. The second bag uses a white buckskin in the same design but with two yellows, one greasy and the other opaque. The last bag is a special one using old time white beads handed down from a Comanche grandmother to her daughter. I could tell the beads were very old due to their irregular size and that certain white color hard to describe. Almost an ice-cream type of white, very solid and opaque.

Buckskin Bags

Here are some more "moccasin toe" pouch bags made from soft buckskin. The top bag uses a divided bar pattern in greasy yellow. The middle bag uses a four directions motif with the colors of red for North, white for South, black for West and yellow for East, all in a background of greasy blue. The bottom bag has lightning bolts shooting down from the sky and uses some greasy green beads.

Tipi Beadwork And Buckskin Bags

I started making little buckskin bags after I discovered the German hides and how wonderful they were to work with. Then I came up with a modified sort of 'moccasin toe' style lazy-stitch beadwork patterns and applied them onto the front flaps of the bags. I found many of the designs in a beading book I had and applied them onto the bags using whatever colors I thought would work.
I found a good source of seed beads apart from the Crazy Crow catalog thru the Bovis Bead Company and they had many different types of my favorite "greasy" style beads. I used the greasy blues and whites and yellows and even some greens, to good effect. The middle bag shows off the greasy blues and the bottom bag uses a sort of Crow pink in greasy hue.

Garland Humble Bear

Here's a good fotog of Garland Humble Bear standing by his tipi in Virginia. I could always depend on Humble Bear to open up his lodge to visitors and welcome anyone. He had a big heart and a clear mind. He carried an ace of hearts playing card with him and when people asked him how much Indian blood he had, he would hand them the card with the words written on it, "One Red Heart" and say it was his tribal card.

This fotog shows the new buckskin shirt I finished up at my tipi, doing the lazy stitch beadwork oftimes in kerosene lantern light. It replaced my older shirt and was made from several fine pieces of Crazy Crow German brain-tanned buckskin, very soft and great to work with.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Pow Wow Years Part Four

Here is Blue Eagle, one of my fellow dancers and vendors. He was an expert on beadwork and regalia and a great guy to talk to.
Here are some other pow wows I attended:
**Loris, SC pow wow where I camped in a butt cold rain and danced and talked to pow wow bums who lived in converted school buses and vans. I didn't always use my small tent and for this pow wow I used a 9x12 Ozark Trail sieve deluxe tent, a leaking piece of nylon crap made serviceable only by rigging a tarp fly over it. I gave it to the church yard sale without a second thought.
**Tweetsie Railroad pow wow. I was excited to have a pow wow close by so I showed up[ on a Thursday and put up my North Face Westwind tent and prepared for the pow wow with enthusiasm. Just about the time things picked up an angry black mean looking cloud pulled up and over us and the wind picked up and the sun went away. Rain started falling and everybody ran away to their cars and tents and tarps and tipis.
Suddenly as the wind ripped and the rain torrents hit, a freak tornado touched down near the circle and ripped right thru like a chain saw with cars lifted off the ground and poeple picked up and thrown around. Zoe lost her tarp and her crafts, Gene lost his car, and Nelson had all the windows in his car blown out. One car was lifted and had its door ripped off. Two people had to be taken to the hospital. It was during the high wind that my tent swayed so bad that several poles were split.
**Hickory NC pow wow.
**Bristol VA pow wow and it's a rained out mess.
**Greensboro NC pow wow in Jamestown where I spend the night by a parking lot. It was a bust as there wasn't a decent tent spot so I just set up by the cars and trucks.
**ASU indoor pow wow.
**Suffolk VA pow wow where it was too hot for comfot and I was glad to leave.
**Johnson City TN pow wow where I stayed in the big Walmart tent.
**Hamlet NC pow wow with Gary at the Richmond Community College.
**Riner VA buffalo pow wow set up next to a herd of 36 buffalo.

The Pow Wow Years Part Three

One of the best pow wows in my area was one put on in downtown Damascus, Virginia, and attended by a wide variety of red road enthusiasts. The above foto shows Mary Walks With Wolves after an afternoon of dancing in the October autumn mountain air of beautiful Damascus. The top shot shows an indoor pow wow at Radford University in Virginia.
I camped many times at this North Carolina pow wow and most time in my Westwind tent and once in an old Walmart tent. It was in an open 40 acre field perfect for camping with several tipis and other tents set up. Darry Wood, the best tipi maker in the country, came every year with one or two of his excellent tipis.
This camp and pow wow was east of Charlotte and was held in a park with a huge open field. I put my little tent next to a line of trees and spent much of my time in a tipi belonging to Garland Humble Bear. At night after the dancing many of us would head to his tipi for a night of coffee, stories, songs and drumming.

The Pow Wow Years Part Two

Some things stay private and sacred, suffice it to say I had a strong connection to the eagle and hawk nation and they were my best spiritual friends during hard times. They knew how to live out and how to live in beauty, seeing things as they are and demanding we keep our connection to wilderness strong or otherwise suffer.

The Pow Wow Years Part One

I first started to go to Native American pow wows in 1981 when I was invited to go to a small pow wow set up with tipis at the Schiele Museum in Gastonia, NC, and was invited by Dr. Ayers of the ASU Anthropology department.
My first beaded dance shirt was a rough attempt with beaded loomwork strips, handmade moccasins with a bit of lazy stitch, and eventual quill work on the shirt around the loom strips and the V neck yoke.
After attending a couple of years at the Schiele, I went with Johnny B to a fantastic pow wow around Lake Lure, NC, at an old girl scout camp called Lake Occoneechee. There was nothing quite like seeing 18 tipis set up at dusk around the lake. From my journal: "There is a lot here for me. I talked to the first Indian in the special forces in 1954. He spent 8 years in or around Vietnam. It is almost midnight as my tent is set up in this valley after a full day of dancing. Tomorrow we must leave and I'll miss the lake, the people, the holiday, the singing, the morning yoga, the drums, the regalia, the individuals, the art work, the beads, the color, the girls, the smiles, the meadow and the water. It was the best so far."

Summer Solstice Pisgah Trip

Willow's husband Jodal brings in their little one to camp with us along Upper Creek during one of our summer solstice trips. Johnny B and I organized these trips and he and I humped in ungodly loads. I brought in a canvas tipi and a whole watermelon once and Johnny carried in sweatlodge tarps, bowsaws and a cast iron dutch oven. We were crazy.
This was taken on the rocky overlook section of the trail after the steep climb up Heartbreak Ridge. Camp was downhill and not far, about a half mile.

George And Whitney In Pisgah, 2000

We gear up for another trip into Pisgah but this time in warmer temps. George has to carry most of the gear while Whitney brings in her little girl, and the trail in gets pretty dang steep along Heartbreak Ridge. As we settle into camp, who pops up for a dayhike visit but old backpacking buddy Johnny B and Lindal Newbius, both old hands of the Pisgah trails. It just was too bad they couldn't spend the night. (WARNING: No one should ever have to carry the load George is carrying.)

George And Whitney In Pisgah '99

I take my tipi neighbors George and Whitney into Pisgah for a backpacking trip in the cold month of March, '99, and they love the place. They bring their little girl and we camp along Upper Creek at the Burnthouse Camp. The fotos show the high 100 foot waterfall rocks behind the camp, one of the many features of this excellent place.

A Backpacking Trip To Grayson Highlands

A friend and I go to Virginia and spend several days backpacking at one of the most beautiful(and cold)areas in the southeast, Wilburn Ridge and the Grayson Highlands state park.
We get on the AT and use it to get us to other trails so we can do a big loop back to the car. Along the way we pass by a wild pony at one of the AT shelters and he wants the apple I'm eating, in fact, he bites me on the right butt cheeck out of frustration. I guess he was tired of begging.
The top foto shows my friend Good Heart standing on the pink granite rocks of Wilburn Ridge, a favorite mystical place. I first came to Graysons back in the early 1980s with Greg Vizzi and we spent several days hiking the area. On that trip I drank tainted cow water and ended up puking all night outside my tent on some cold and windswept bald.

2001: Jewelweed And The Tipi

Touch-me-nots grow up in the leaf berm compost along the outside perimeter of the tipi and this fotog shows a summer day of blending in with the environment.

2000: Staying Warm In The Snow At The Lodge

I did many nighthikes along the tipi ridge and most enjoyed them with a flashlight during or after a big snowfall. By walking up the ridge a quarter of a mile I reached a thin razorback where the ridge narrowed down to about 20 feet with steep fall offs on both sides. It was here I found deep snow and the harshest winds.