Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/160

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154

THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

sourwood (Oxydendrum) are visited by great numbers of wild bees and sonrwood honey has a reputation that is not confined to the locality. I have some pleasing memories of mountain breakfasts sweetened with this dainty product of the wildwood. Eating wild honey, like drinking goldenrod tea, or devouring handfuls of wild berries, or partaking of any natural harvest, gives a fine edge to the business of eating, at least to the imaginative side of it.

On the trail between Deep Gap and the Allen Branch, and not far from the mica mines on the western side of Lickstone, stood the cabin of Arnold Guyot's old guide, Wid Medford. Guyot spent much time in these parts, surveying and studying the various mountain groups. A peak of the Great Smoky Mountain bears his name, and the United States Geological Survey has memorialized the work of this pioneer in geographical science by naming one of its topographical sheets "Mount Guyot." We took refuge one afternoon under Medford's porch during a thunder shower and the old man talked about Guyot, chuckling with great glee over the wrath and discomfiture of the near-sighted professor when on a certain occasion he had blundered into a yellow-jacket's nest. From the old fellow's yarn I gathered that he had purposely led the unsuspecting geographer into the trap, by way of a joke; and the memory of it was still very green. If only I had heard this story of Medford's when as a boy I struggled with a Guyot's School Geography, how I should have envied the guide and the yellow-jackets.

Southward from Deep Gap a trail leads up to the crest of the Divide—the water-parting of streams that flow west into the Tuckasegee Branch of the Little Tennessee, and east into the west fork of Pigeon River. The trail follows along the summit for many miles, through a dense forest of balsam fir and close to the precipitous eastern side, from which one has an overlook of the Pigeon Valley three thousand feet below. A spongy carpet of bog moss (sphagnum) gives a truly Canadian touch to the fir forest of the Divide. To look down from these boreal heights on a valley where sorghum is growing, where cardinals are whistling, and passion flowers are blooming, lends another point of view to one's ideas of geography. The trail goes steeply up from Deep Gap to the top of Cold Spring Mountain, where Magee and I ate our lunch, smoked a pipe of tobacco, and drank crystal water from the spring. Beyond Double Spring Gap the crest-line of the Divide gradually rises to the summit of the Richland Balsam, six thousand, five hundred and forty feet above the sea-level. There is a glorious view of peaks and ridges from this Balsam top, with the great dome of Mount Mitchell (6,711 feet) rising above the Black Mountain group, but I did not get the same sense of upliftedness as I did on either of its lesser neighbors—the Plott Balsam and Lickstone Bald.