Official Website of the North Carolina Bartram Trail Society

Archive for August, 2009

NCBTS Fall Annual Meeting Announcement

August 22nd, 2009 by NC BTS

The 2009 Annual membership meeting of the NC Bartram Trail Society will be held on Saturday, September 19 in the Canon Lounge of the Morse Science Building on Warren Wilson College campus in Swannanoa, NC.

This year’s keynote lecture is by Dr. Jim Costa, Executive Director of the Highlands Biological Station and Professor of Biology at Western Carolina University. The lecture is entitled “Darwin and Dixie”.

Click here to download the full announcement!

About the Speaker

Dr. Costa is the well-known author of The Other Insect Societies, which explores the social structure of insects such as beetles, caterpillars, cockroaches, mantids, membracids, and sawflies. In his Commentary, Dr. Edward O. Wilson proclaimed the book “will henceforth be the standard reference work on the subject.” And just this year, Dr. Costa cemented his position as a Darwin scholar with his book The Annotated Origin. Publishers Weekly declares his “thoughtful and informative notes enable readers to gain a much fuller appreciation for Darwin’s genius and breadth of knowledge.”

Even with his busy schedule, Dr. Costa finds time to lend his expertise to the NC Bartram Trail Society. He has been a member of the board since 2007. Invaluable contributions include Bartram exhibits at Highlands Biological Station and display panels that tour libraries and museums. Please join us as Dr. Costa pulls together science and history to explore the intriguing connections between Bartram and Darwin for the NCBTS annual meeting.

Driving Directions to Warren Wilson College Campus

If you are arriving by car via I-40 from areas west of Asheville, take Exit 55 in East Asheville, turn left and go under the interstate. Go to the first traffic light (at the intersection with US-70/Tunnel Road), and turn right onto US-70. On US-70, go 1.5 miles until you reach the next traffic light and turn left onto Warren Wilson Road. Travel about 1.5 miles until you reach the campus. Turn right at the South entrance. You will pass the library and the Morse Science Building is on your right.

A campus map is accessible online at:

Category: Announcements | No Comments »

A Journey: The New Bartram Trail Map

August 22nd, 2009 by NC BTS

NCBTS Logo(As of August 2009) – By Tom Rogers

In 2007 the NCBTS Board of Directors felt that it was time for an update to the existing set of seven individual “Section” maps that covered the path of the North Carolina (NC) portion of the Bartram Trail (BT). So a Map Team was chartered to produce a new BT map.

After the membership of the team was established, the first thing to be done was to determine the “characteristics” that we wanted to be included in the map. We internally developed a list of desired characteristics and canvassed other hiking organizations/map makers for their “lessons learned” in developing their map(s). In particular, we were interested in the manner in which the volunteer, non-profit organizations (such as ours) went about developing/creating their map(s).

We are deeply indebted to folks from the following organizations for freely sharing with us their experiences and advice on “how” to go about this task: The Foothills Trail, The Benton McKaye Trail, The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, The Mountain to Sea Trail and the Map Division of the National Geographic Society. Their help kept us from stepping into many “potholes” along the way.

As a result of the “mentoring” received from the organizations listed above, we decided not to attempt to completely develop the new map “internally” with an all volunteer organization. Thus, we sought a grant that would allow us to hire a cartographer and an experienced commercial map printer.

We did decide, however, to re-affirm the path of the BT and the location of its main features (e.g., water sources, campsites, vistas, road accesses, etc) with an internal, all-volunteer effort. Thus we walked the NC BT with GPS equipment and a “wheel” that measured the actual length of the trail. Since the acquisition of GPS signals is best accomplished without foliage on the trees, this was a predominantly a winter-season effort. Due to the scope of the task (over 66 miles of footpath, including side trails) and acceptable weather days (no rain, snow or dense cloud cover), it took the winter of 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 to accomplish this data acquisition task.

While the trail data acquisition effort was progressing, a “Grant Team” was formed by the NCBTS Board of Directors to seek the funds necessary to hire the cartographer and pay for the commercial printing of the map. The team began searching for funding sources and submitted a grant request in the fall of 2008 to the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area (BRNHA). Due to the team’s excellent work, we were successful in obtaining a “matching” grant from the BRNHA in January of 2009 for both the cost of the cartographer and the printer. The estimated total cost was about $11,000 for the map development and the printing of an initial 3000 copies of the map.

This new BT map will be “more than a map”. The NCBTS has a dual purpose: Promote the contributions of William Bartram, as well as maintain the trail named in his honor. The interests of the BRNHA are to promote tourism and provide interpretive information of the natural treasures of western North Carolina. These are synergistic interests and thus the new map will also contain information on William Bartram, his contribution to the history of the area and his encounters with the Native Cherokees as well as interpretive information on the natural and cultural history of the region. The intended cumulative effect of the new map is to enhance the experience of those already using the trail and increase the number of hikers, backpackers, nature enthusiasts, exercise enthusiasts, and history buffs that will come to the area and use the trail.

Once we were assured of the funds for the map effort, the search for a qualified cartographer began with “requirements” listing we placed on the internet ( discussing the requirements for our map. Fourteen firms responded to the listing with an eventual seven proposals being submitted. In May of 2009 the Ozark Cartographer’s Guild (OCG) was selected by the Map Team and the Board of Directors as having the best qualifications and lowest proposed cost for the effort.

The initial transfer of GPS, wheel and interpretive data from the NCBTS to OCG has already been accomplished and in August 2009 the first draft map was delivered to the NCBTS by OCG for review and comment.

That event brings us up to date on the “Journey” to a new BT map. The anticipated schedule and the remaining major milestones are listed below.
The intent is to have the new map ready for distribution by early 2010.

August 2009 to January 2010: 

The cartographer will design and lay out the map, including  the desired interpretive information on William Bartram and the natural and cultural history of the trail area, utilizing the GPS and “wheel” distance data obtained by the NCBTS.  Once the map layout is approved, the cartographer will create a digital data computer disc that includes all GPS and interpretive information in a form suitable for use by a commercial printer to print the map.

January 2010 through February 2010:

The disc will be submitted to a commercial printer, who will perform the initial printing run of the map (3,000 copies are anticipated and this generally results in the optimum per-map printing cost).

March 2010:  Accomplish the initial distribution of maps.

The “Map Team” will continue to work with help from many members of the NCBTS using their individual expertise to develop the new map. We are committed to producing a map that will not only be useful to the hiker, but will also add value to the experience of anyone visiting the western North Carolina Mountains.

Category: News and Events | No Comments »

Piedmont College’s Bartram Trail Experience

August 7th, 2009 by NC BTS

The NCBTS would like to thank Dr. Tim Menzel, Assistant Professor of Biology at Piedmont College, for submitting the following article about Piedmont College’s “May-mester” program on the Bartram Trail.

The Bartram Trial Experience was a “May-mester” offering from Piedmont College. Piedmont’s May-mester programs consist of two courses offered by two departments, associated with travel to some other part of the world. This year, students headed to New York City, Arizona, Japan, and, for the Bartram Trail Experience, the mountains of northern Georgia. For the Georgia trip, the resources that have typically gone towards plane tickets and hotel rooms instead purchased backpacking equipment and trail food (plus 4 nights in cabins at Vogel State Park). The two courses associated with this trip were “The Influence of William Bartram’s Travels on American Literature” and “Plant Diversity.” The goal of the “Experience” was to impact these student’s views of nature through exposure to literature, scientific study and an extended time backpacking in the mountains of northeast Georgia. William Bartram was chosen as a focus because he is a figure of both literary and scientific importance.

Jack In The Pulpit

The literature course was given by Dr. Lisa Hodgens. The students were required to read and discuss William Bartram’s Travels, as well as the works of later nature writers including Emerson, Thoreau, Dillard and others. They also kept journals of their experiences and wrote a final thesis on how their view of nature had been changed by their readings and experiences. The science course was given by myself and was meant to familiarize students with the evolution and ecology of plants and plant communities in northeast Georgia. This course was different from the standard botany class in that it was focused on the mechanisms that have sculpted, and are still sculpting, the rich patterns of plant communities across our area. The challenge for the students was to integrate, through critical and creative thinking, the two approaches to Nature.

Kristian In The Rain

Our backpacking trip began after 5 days at Vogel State Park and followed the Bartram Trail from Beegum Gap to Earl’s Ford Road (27.4 miles total). We traveled from a high elevation forest (Rabun Bald, 4696′) down to the banks of the Chattooga River (~1500′).  As we arrived at the summit of Rabun Bald on the first day, the sun was shining directly above us while storm clouds hung over the valleys in every direction. As we descended from the bald we entered those clouds and they clung close to us for the next three days, finally clearing for our last two nights on the trail. Along the way we stayed at Salt Rock Gap (3,700′), Wilson Gap (3,220′), Martin Creek Falls (~2,000′), on the east side of Raney Mountain (~2,600′) and just upstream from Dick’s Creek Falls along the Chattooga River (~1500′). At each of these locations, groups of students chose 100 square meter areas and attempted to identify all tree and shrub species within them. The purpose of these exercises was to familiarize them with the plants of the area, to teach them to use plant keys, and to collect plant diversity data which could then be used to quantitatively compare the plant communities encountered as we traveled along the trail. The students then generated index values (Jaccard’s Similarity Index) for each possible pair of locations (five locations produces 10 possible pairs) to determine which pair of sites was the most similar, which the most different, and which site had the most unique plant species assemblage. This quantitative method separates the researcher from personal impressions of plant diversity by forcing them to generate objective measures of diversity patterns. We wanted to provide a scientific experience in addition to the perspective on nature gained through literature and personal experience.


Although the lab exercises were limited to trees and shrubs, we were interested in all plants along the trail and identified as many as our schedule would permit. I was personally exposed to many plant species I had never seen because I am a newcomer to the area (I’ve recently moved here from Mississippi). Plants of special interest that we found were the Yellow lady slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum), Virginia heartleaf (Hexastylis virginica), and Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema atrorubens). These were all found between Rabun Bald and Warwoman Dell, by far the richest area for plants we encountered.The most similar plots (based on index scores) were Wilson Gap and the Chattooga River. Both of these sites were heavily disturbed by previous campers, which could explain their similarity. Salt Rock Gap and the Chattooga River location were the least similar, which could be explained by their elevation difference and the fact that Salt Rock Gap is a dry ridge and the Chattooga is riverside. Salt Rock Gap had the lowest average similarity to other locations and was therefore the most unique site surveyed. Red maple and southern red oak were found at all sites and were the most common tree/shrub species surveyed.


I’ve provided below some sample passages from our student’s papers, where they have remarked on the impact of the experience on their own views of nature. Even though these words were written for a grade, I can’t help but find them encouraging.

    “I have never been afforded the chance to become familiar with the mountains. It was a challenge, and I had to dig deep; I had to reach beyond myself; I learned that I am not who I thought I was.”

“Being in the outdoors for multiple nights was a very difficult and physically demanding experience. I would have never thought that nature could be cruel. Before Bartram, I thought that nature was nice and green and harmless.”

“Since the beginning of the trip, my view of nature has drastically changed. From now on, being outside will induce deeper thoughts and be more appreciated.”

“What I truly learned about nature from the trip is that the natural world is a delicate place with a complex balance of elements that work together to form a chaotic world.”

“I realized how much I knew of, but had never seen in the enchanted forest.”

“I learned that there is more to nature than just parking your car in a secluded hole in the woods and having a few beers with the guys. There is something about the thought of that now, that seems sacrilegious.”

“I learned to slow down and enjoy, embrace simplicity, use my time outdoors for healing, to take that much-needed time away from it all, and to look more closely.”  

Trail’s EndAbove: The group at trail’s end (Earl’s for Road) from left to right: Ryan Smith, Brian Simmons, Krista Tritt, Scott Pratt, Yve Chawla, Tim Menzel, Cindy Peterson, Bradley Green.

Special thanks to John Ray and the Bartram Trail Society for maintaining these trails and making this trip possible. This trip would also not have been possible without the efforts of Dr. Lisa Hodgens – Professor of English at Piedmont College; Cindy Peterson – Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Piedmont College who was responsible for all of the planning related our time on the trail and who led us into and out of the forest safely; and all of the administration and faculty of Piedmont College who have courageously supported this trip and other May-mester programs.Tim Menzel, Ph.D.Assistant Professor of BiologyDepartment of Natural SciencesPiedmont College

Category: On the Trail | No Comments »

NC Bartram Trail Guestbook

August 1st, 2009 by NC BTS

See what others are saying about the NC Bartram Trail! Click here to add your comments to our new guestbook. 

Note: To prevent SPAM, all comments are moderated.

Category: Guestbook | 5 Comments »