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Who Would Have Thunk It?

January 23, 2014

Which came first, the mountains or the sea? Obviously, the sea came first as evidenced by seashells on mountain tops. Dickens, the first time I heard of seashells found on mountains was when we moved to Alaska. I was ten at the time and thought the kids in school were pulling my leg, yet to my amazement I actually found seashells on a mountain while I lived there. I know, who would have thunk it? So, when Rick and I went to Catawba Falls, located near the south end of Grandfather Mountain, I asked him if he’d ever heard of finding seashells on a mountain. I think he thought I was pulling his leg, too.

Yet, since the Appalachian Mountains are the oldest range in this country, compared to the sharper edges of the Rockies, they appear more hilly than mountainous (to me), due to millenniums of erosion. Thus, any traces of seashells left behind millions of years ago have long been washed away downstream by rainwater and back into the sea. A bit of trivia is the word “Appalachian,” which is the fourth oldest surviving European name for a place in this country. Who would have thunk it? And isn’t it staggering to think our arrival to settle in this country happened just slightly over 200 years ago? Settlers! Wow, what a history we have inherited from our forefathers. Ever wonder how it all started?

Now I’ll admit my mind wanders frequently; however, I’m not a huge history buff. (More of a movie buff.) But I do know the county I live in was named after the Catawba Indians; Catawba meaning ‘river people’ because they lived chiefly along what is now known as the Catawba River. Since I did a little Googling and discovered how they cooperated freely with early settlers it simply astounds me to consider a time before all the mountains had names and all the rivers were explored; bringing me back to our hike to Catawba Falls.

It started out cool that morning, so I was heavily layered in long johns. Arriving we parked off the road, walked across a clearing toward the woods then started down the path. I was pleasantly surprised to find the path well-worn and wide enough in places to walk side-by-side. Not far from the clearing we came upon the creek (Wikipedia called it a river), when Rick said we had to get to the ‘other side’ to continue to the waterfall. (Not sure how wide a creek has to be before it’s called a river but we were hiking to the waterfall regardless of my desire for analytical interpretation.)

Walking up and down along the bank Rick commented that the water was very high and fast because of rain; therefore prime stepping stones were now under a cascading flow of clear mountain water. Opting for a downed tree Rick thought it was probably our best opportunity to cross the surging rapids. Really? Seriously? I asked in my head a bazillion times to no avail. We were crossing on the tree trunk…limb…branch…twig…thingy… (Gee, was it really getting smaller, or was my imagination on overdrive?) Yikes, suddenly it was do or drown time as I watched Rick cross while chastising myself for not getting the truck keys first so I could hightail it back to safety and wait for him to return with a phone full of beautiful pictures of the waterfall.

I had to admit, except for that one little bauble, he made it appear easy breezy. Yet my first footstep on the log told a different story. It shook…my legs trembled…my heart flip flopped. Holy dickens, I suddenly questioned the sanity of standing on a wobbly log over a torrent of surging water! Then Rick hollered “Wait!” Oh boy, wait! That means: remove your foot and back slowly away from the log. While “We’re leaving, right?” was written all over my face. Wrong. It meant: I’m coming to save you from turning into a seashell and washing downstream and eventually out to sea. Which he accomplished gallantly by stepping on a boulder in the rushing water and holding my left hand while I gripped the hiking pole with my right hand and safely crossed the raging rapids. Wowzer, I had made it to the ‘other side!’ Who would have thunk it?

Can you imagine…finding a seashell on a mountain top?

Smile, it looks soooo good on you!



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