Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Beating the Heat Week - Part 2

Posted July 18, 2006

I have never felt the waters of Wilson Creek to be anything but chilly and invigorating even on the hottest day of the summer. My family used to vacation at Brown Mountain Beach when I was a child and we splashed the heat away in a wonderful swimming hole fed by Wilson Creek. I can still see my father sketching that waterfall in preparation for another one of his watercolors. I can see myself at age six skipping stones across the clear mountain water. I can hear the laughter of Uncle Phil and the shuffling of cards in the cottage where the grownups played bridge. I remember my fascination with the whirlpools in the water by the rustic stonework at Brown Mountain. I remember the day our dog Sputnik vanished and then returned just as we had given up hope for his survival. I recall my cousins the Chafees visiting from Pennsylvania and how much fun it was to play water games in that cool pool. We didn't realize what a great thing we had going back then. Six years ago Wilson Creek was added to the National Wild and Scenic River system. The best way to get there is to take I-40 to Morganton and then NC Highway 181 north. Just before you reach the old Optimist Park or Clearwater Beach, hang a right and follow the signs to Brown Mountain. The area is just south of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is Elizabeth Gardner's favorite place. She loves camping at Mortimer, an old ghost town just up the road. Go on up past Brown Mountain Beach and you'll encounter Thunder Hole where kayakers test the challenging rapids. We will talk about the Brown Mountain Lights in another report. But tomorrow we will show you how to cool off by going "east" of Raleigh this week!

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Bill Leslie