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"I pity the man who can travel from Dan to Beersheba and say it is all barren."
Passing through the wild and rude country of Rutherford, towards the Hickory Nut Gap, the traveller is repaid at night fall for the fatigues of the journey, and the hitherto dreariness of the road by a sudden burst of scenery, as grand as picturesque, as rich as romantic.
Just at the foot of the Mountains he stops for the night: the tall cliffs seem impending over him with almost terrific grandeur, while onward, far onward as the eye can reach, mountain after mountain, ridge after ridge, appear like blue clouds pendant over the low horizon. At his foot the Broad River foams and roars, and dashes his white spray, leaping madly with his clear and cool current, over rock and crag. On the right, apparently at a short distance, a chain of high hills present an uneven surface of solid rock, bare of vegetation, and presenting on that side a barrier frowning and impassible.
It is a huge pile
On the left, the Chimney Mountain rears its tall summit. This peak is difficult to access, but the view of the Chimney, a shaft of solid rock that shoots up from the base, appearing to have been riven by some freak of Nature from the parent-block, richly repays the labour of the ascent. The shaft seems from the road in size and height to resemble an ordinary chimney, while its top, rising as it were into a point, is capped with dwarfish shrubbery: but when the traveller stays his wearied feet upon the summit of the cliff, and looks upon the chimney now far below him, he is astonished to perceive the points swelled into an area of broad acres, and the dwarfish shrub expanded into a gigantic pine.
"Its shapes are heaped about: rude, bare and high, Gastly and scarr'd, and riv'n!"
A mile or two from this spot, a fine view presents itself of "Fall Creek," as the natives call it. On the left of the road, and separated by the river, stretches a huge ridge from the loftiest portion of which a creek pours down the rocky side a gushing stream of living water. It is distant a mile from the spot at which you are standing, and must gush over the mountain with great force, for at this distance you can see its torrent leaping madly from point to crag like a thing of life, while the innumerable lesser cascades look like paintings on the rocks. As the sun shines upon the stream, diversifying it with the hues of the Rain-bow, the view is magnificent and splendid.
To a lowlander, this rich mountain scenery presents a picture at which he never tires gazing, and awakens ideas and associations in his mind, to which he has heretofore been a stranger: he is overwhelmed with the vastness of the view --astounded with the appearance of these giant-masses so far greater than his rude imaginings had ever pictured. It was so with the writer. Some years had elapsed since he looked upon the lovely scenery of the Hudson and climbed the green hills of Vermont, wrapping his cloak stoutly about him even under a July sun, and latterly, Haymount and Harrington had been the "ultima thule" of his journeyings. As he looked upon these huge piles of vasty rock --their immeasurable peaks protruding through the very cloud --and thrusting and rearing their heads high above the plains, ambitious aspirants, he could not but mark the mortifying contrast between them, and those aforesaid hills of Harrington and Haymount. The pure purpose and giant intellect, seated afar off in calm serenity, contemning the storm which broke and rolled harmless at their feet: the latter were the fungi of demagogueism, easy of access, whose heads were ever obscurred by fogs, and damps, and mists.
The view is not alone of rocky cliffs and granite piles; here the Oak and Chestnut stretch about their immeasurable boughs, and fragrents of Pine assimilate the scenery, in some slight degree to homeward associations. Cedar and Balsalm-Fir abound, and everywhere the wild flowers wreath about their varied blossoms to woo and win the eye in these vast forests "and deserts peopled by the storm alone."
'Twas a scene for the pencil of a poet, but alas! --the writer was no poet. The calm hour of holy eve has ever a fascination for the senses, but to see sunset in its beauty one must stand near these smoky Mountain-heights, his eye compassing alone view all of grandeur, all of serenity, all of lovliness. It was in the rich twilight of an August evening, that the writer enjoyed this view; the whole heavens seemed bathed in soft tints of mellow splendour, and the Moon was gilding, in the east, the eastern cliffs, as if seeking to rival the dying glories of the setting Sun. Upon one of these cliffs, the rocks had assumed those fantastic shapes, with which the pale light of evening invest the surrounding scenery, and which the eye, aided by the imagination, which that hour, and time always quicken, can twist, and torture into any form or fashion. There seemed to me of some ancient castle -- the wall mouldering, and decayed by time --turret and citadel! --here was drawbridge, and the portcullis, with abattis for defence --and the moat, and ditch, and all the paraphenallia of a feudal fortress; the chapel shooting its tall spires to Heaven, typical of the aspirations of its worshippers, the moon-beam playing upon its minerets and towers. Whither my wayward fancy might have led me, and with what storied legends it might have invested this same fortress if had conjured up, is not for me to determine; --I was destined to have a wet-blanket thrown over the ardour of my imaginnings in the shape of one of those sudden showers, which, in these high regions, burst from the side of the Mountains, with little of warning, and affording brief time of preparation to those exposed to its peltings. The cloud boilling, as I said from the Mountain side, "in size no bigger than a man's hand," but a few minutes had elapsed ere acquiring new volume in its descent, the sky became everclouded, and the rain poured down in huge and heady torrents inconceivable to one unaccustomed to the climate. Thoroughly drenched, I shrank from my musings and my reveries to shelter. It must have been some such incident that suggested to the Bard those lines,
While upon the subject of the Mountain scenery of this section of North Carolina, let me not omit a rude description of a scenery of this section of North Carolina, let me not omit a rude description of a scenery so picturesque, that a pilgimage to it alone, would richly repay the toils and fatigues of the lowland wayfarer in reaching it. Distant about a mile from the Chimney Mountain is visible, a succession of grand and beautiful cascades passing description. Between the Chimney and the Rich Mountains, from from the summit of their very union, rises and flows down the aperture, Carrick Creek; the stream, crystal in its appearance, bears the name of an aged hunter, once the Natty Bumpo of these parts. Here in the delightful valley umqwhile did he pitch his tents, and continue his encampment for months together, pursuing his sport in despite of the hostile Cherokee, his uneering rifle making sad havoc, the mean time among the bear and deer, once so prevalent in this region, and still to be found to some extent: here too, from this living and limpid fountain was he wont to quench his thirst. Alas! He too has yielded to the spirit of civilization; smiling fields are every where usurping the place of rugged forests, and the rocky battlements of the Mountains frown down upon the Red Warrior no longer, but in his place the descendant of of the pale faces from beyond the great waters till the earth and subdue it.
"Peace to the artist, whose ingenious thought.
"Dayised the weather-house."--
The Creek flows through the yawning chasm, tumbling and roaring, with a strength and rapidity rendered greater at every step of its progress, by its numberless tributary springs and rills. At every twenty yards it descends a natural fall of 30 feet. The attrition of the waters has worn the rock smooth and semi-circular, and so diversified is the granite with streaks of white sand-stone, that one at first view is apt to pronounce it solid mason-work, the labour of hands.
The waters are received into a circular basin, or dark cauldron, forming with a rapid, gurgitating motion, a black maelstrom; the surplus waters boiling over, proceed onward only to encounter fall after fall, cascade after cascade. The roar of the waters may be heard at great distance resembling the rumbling sound of distant thunder. One of these cauldrons is called, par execellence, the Whirlpool, and is of great depth, having never been sounded. It bears some evidence of having been the effect of a pebble, or round quartz rock borne along the current and making its way down the softer granite or sand-stone with the rotary motion derived from the waters. Sinking down onward, far onward, away below, until it may be, it may burst some day upon the astonished vision of some ignorant Symzonian. With what weak, and apparently contemptible agents does it please Providence sometimes to work. What great effects from trivial spring." Had the Roman Poet, who sang the exploits of his pious hero, stood upon the spot, he would have proceeded no farther, but instantly have located his descent to Hades.
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