National Geographic : 1952 Oct
488 Mountain Orchestra Warms Up for a Square Dance at Cataloochee Ranch Fiddler Cal Messer (center), who loves old-time ballads, sometimes walks five days a week just to play and sing at parties. He is the composer of "Whoa, Ebenezer, Whoa" and "I Got One Old Hat" (page 489). and asters. But flowers which had bloomed earlier and were now in the "fruit" or berry stage were my favorites. Barred Owl Joins Campfire Chatter Arthur Stupka, the park naturalist, Ralph K. Shaver, ranger, and Donald Pfitzer, ranger naturalist, joined us for supper on our last night at Walnut Bottom (page 485). Into our campfire conversation broke the mournful hooting of an owl. Mr. Stupka identified the bird as a barred owl. The horned owl usually is found only at lower altitudes. In the valleys and at lower elevations live wood thrushes, Carolina wrens, and robins; among the hardwoods of the middle levels, ruffed grouse, hawks, and owls; and at the top, among the spruce, mountain ash, and yellow birch, are northern ravens, veeries, and juncos. Every year during Christmas week the park makes a census of winter birds. On a one day count, 56 kinds were identified. More than 200 species of birds live in the immensi ties of the Great Smokies. In the morning we rode through ascend ing mists along Swallow Fork and in the early afternoon reached our last camping ground on the top of Mount Sterling. Heavy fog obscured an exceptional view from the fire tower, but only Sisson minded. We threw our sleeping bags on soft spongy moss, and wandered through the "smoke," picking blue berries and blackberries for supper. On our last day's ride we stopped for lunch at Rough Fork of the Cataloochee, site of our first night's camping ground. Our route home on the trail which had been so hidden in mist now lay open and appealing in the sunlight and warmth of goldenrod and asters. We entered a wild virgin forest and rode in the shadows of giant silver bells, tulip poplars, white oaks, hemlocks, buckeyes, sugar and red maples. Bear markings were everywhere; hundreds roam that one wild forest. Glenn claimed he could smell them.