Can you believe it’s May already. As I walked through camp and up to the dining room this morning, I realized how green and beautiful camp looked but something was missing….. campers and staff! It’s just around the corner until you begin to arrive and just over a month before we have our first campers show up for an 8 day session here at Gwynn Valley, the best camp for boys and girls this side of the French Broad. For those of you not familiar with the French Broad the name refers to the river that flows through the valleys of our region and was given that name by early explorers. Those first settlers came to a point where they looked down on the broad green valleys that at that time were held by France.
Many of you may know that Gwynn Valley is in Transylvania County. “Transylvania” comes from Latin, meaning “over the trees” or “across the woods”. Our forests and timber held a big attraction in the early years of the area, but before the timber industry came there was a good bit of farming done in these fertile valleys of the river. We’re still farming here at Gwynn Valley and taking advantage of the fertile soil here on camp property that helps produce about 70% of our food each summer. The very first timber harvested from the county was floated down the French Broad RIver to Asheville, where it was sold. An attempt was made at one time to make the French Broad River navigable, and jetties were built in order that boats might come up the river. A boat called the Mountain Lily came to Brevard and never returned due a flash flood that pulled it’s from its moorings and mired it in mud not far from the town. Never again able to move from that spot, the boat was stripped of its wood which was used to build a church in the Horseshoe community.
Many of our paddlers at camp utilize a section of the French Broad each summer where you can still see evidence of those jetties. Depending on the water level you can see their remnants and we often use them to teach the art of eddy hopping on river trips. Eddy hopping is safely moving from one spot on the river either laterally or going downstream to another spot. It allows the paddler to scout as they go to take advantage of safe spots on the river as they progress down. We’ve had good rainfall this Spring and hope we continue to fill those rivers for a good summer of Gwynn Valley river trips. Whether you’re tubing, kayaking or canoeing there’s no finer place than the western NC mountains for a fun or challenging day on the river.
In the days ahead we will be putting the finishing touches on most parts of camp as we make ready for another great season. Nature is putting the beginning touch on many of our wildflowers that are springing up everywhere. Soon the Trilliums will be in all their glory on the southwest part of our property. Look for some pictures on our next blog for some of outstanding wildflowers that grow here at camp. Thanks for being a part of the “simple joys”.