I’m a great believer in treasure hunts. When my husband and I went to Ireland, I searched high and low for obscure Celtic crosses—often found in the middle of a pasture filled with grazing cows. And yes, I climbed over barbed wire fences to get my photographs. Much to the amusement of Irish farmers, who laughed and shook their red Irish heads at the antics of those crazy Americans.
Then there was last summer when I—read family—researched Beyond the Cherokee Trail. Up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway, across the Great Smokies and Nantahala National Forest, we hiked in search of the perfect waterfall. Perfect for my upcoming scene at the end of the novel.
Ever since Last of the Mohicans, I’ve been a fan of waterfalls. If my editor lets me get away with it, I insert one into every novel I write.
I believe I became a bit obsessed with finding the waterfall under which the Snowbird Cherokee hid during the roundup for what became the Trail of Tears—aka Last of the Mohicans, be still my heart—and successfully eluded the U.S. army.
Obsessed because after a four hour hike of finding nothing, crossing knee-deep streams of rushing water, scrambling over rocky outcroppings perched precariously over river torrents, I had to be dragged off Snowbird Mountain. A mountain still so remote and isolated, it doesn’t surprise me that the Cherokee evaded capture. In this age of satellites and reconnaissance planes, I feel sure most of the modern-day Cherokee Nation could hide out there again and not be found.
Let’s not forget that fugitive Eric Rudolph hung out thereabouts for 7 years and only was arrested when he stumbled into town.
We—my husband and I, not “we” as in me and Eric Rudolph—traipsed over hill and dale without sighting another human being for over four hours. David estimates we covered about 10 miles of rugged terrain—I’m not talking Park Service Marked Pathways, either. No, we had to bushwhack our way through. I even went one foot in front of the other across a moss-covered log suspended over a ravine—Indiana Jones style.
I’d retreated temporarily to the gravel parking lot at the base of the mountain to rehydrate and formulate my next foray onto the mountain when a vacationing family stopped and mentioned spotting a black bear.
That—not my husband’s pleas—convinced me not to return to the mountain. So I left and did the next best thing—I went shopping.
But since I’m quoting movies today, to quote Scarlett—”Tomorrow is another day.” One day I will return and I will find that missing waterfall. I’ve been studying geographical maps and I think I know where I took a wrong turn. I just need to ford the creek . . .turn left . . . and head up the eastern face until I either run smack into it or fall off.
Who’s with me?
For more behind-the-scenes photos of Beyond the Cherokee Trail, visit https://www.pinterest.com/lisacoxcarter/beyond-the-cherokee-trail/.