Yesterday was a prime example why the journey was more important than the destination. I planned on leaving Highland Haven maybe 10ish in the morning. I was dragging my feet not wanting to leave this beautiful Airstream park when Abe Lincoln, current president of Highland Haven, said to me “Do you have time to take the executive tour?”
OK, I’ve set up in the dark before in Hiawassee. Why not? I’ve always wanted to see more of Highland Haven’s 75 acres. No need to be in such a hurry to get to my destination. So Abe loaded Lulu and myself into the John Deere Gator and we went on a journey.
We entered wide paths into the woods easily traveled either by Gator or by foot. There is much more to Highland Haven than meets the eye. Stockholders maintain the trails.
Highland Haven originally had several homesteads on the premises. Once upon a time stands of old American Chestnuts were thick here until killed off by the blight. Abe says the chestnuts were once so plentiful that farmers fed their pigs only on the fallen nuts. The ruins of a couple of log outbuildings, apparently built from chestnut logs, remain on the property.
Next stop is what Melissa Lincoln calls “the enchanted forest”. Thick pine trees cover the hillside and the wide boulevard that lies underneath. The thick layer of pine needles was soft enough to sleep on. A find of two large feathers confirmed wild turkeys had been foraging on the forest floor.
The paths were dotted with fall color. Ferns and rhododendrons flourished in their native habitat. The presence of salamanders indicate a health ecosystem.
One very special place on the property is a waterfall. The stream’s drops along the footpath only hint at the beauty below.
Abe and Melissa built steps to the base of the falls for easier access.
The setting is totally natural complements of Mother Nature. Nothing has been contrived by human hands. A perfectly placed rock at the bottom of the pool must be her way of saying,“Come, sit, let your worries flow away with the water. Soak up every good thing I have to offer.”
This spot is an absolute gem.
Like an ancient guardian, a deserted old farm house sits on the hill above.
On the trail leading to the falls there is a bear cave. Yes, Highland Haven has bear on the property that has been seen by residents. A trail through the fallen leaves into the cave is evidence that something lives in the cave. Maybe not a bear, but something sizeable and smart enough to live by a perfect water source. I think it’s a bear.
The last stop of the tour was another chestnut-logged ruin of a small barn. If only these old home sites could tell their story.
They would speak of a time when life was much more simple yet severe. Living off the grid and on the land was the norm.
Before heading to Hiawassee and Lake Chatuge I was advised to take I-26. After “see you down the road” goodbyes to my friends, I proceeded to I-81 via my favorite back road.
A favorite spot in the road had taken on fall color.
There are still a few living out in the country that think the grass is greener on the other side.
Taking I-26 was good advice that made for a breathtaking journey. As the road rises above the Blue Ridge Mountains, there is a feeling of traveling somewhere between heaven and earth.
It really is all about the journey. If you don’t enjoy the ride, you’ve missed the point.