Until I returned, I’d forgotten I’d left a piece of my soul here. A stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway looks down into an area called Graveyard Fields. the area had a geologic event that killed the trees and left stumps and mounds leaving it look like a graveyard. A devastating fire in the 1920s reinforced the look. When I worked at a nearby summer camp, I’d lead hikes into this area. We’d sometimes camp in the fields and could watch shooting stars while sleeping under the open sky. Camping is now prohibited here, and trees and larger growth have replaced the open field.
Part of the trail runs along the Yellowstone Prong of the Pigeon River. I had a college roommate who lived nearby in North Carolina. He returned home for a long weekend while I was in law school, and I went with him so I could hike again along the Pigeon River. It started raining just as I got my tent up. It rained all night. Before it was light I heard strange sounds and looked out and the river was flooding and approaching my tent. I hurriedly broke camp and bushwhacked my way to the pick up point since most of the trail was flooded. This was my first time back.
There are waterfalls nearly everywhere you hike, including these lower falls of the Yellowstone Prong in Graveyard Fields.
An overlook on the Parkway provides a distant view of the falls.
Near where we’d camp, there were several several branches of the trail, and I wasn’t sure which was the main trail. I followed one to these rocks on a bend in the river. I was suddenly taken back 40 years. I’d bring the young campers to this very spot to swim and play. I hadn’t thought of it in all that time, and the memory opened as I placed my feet on the spot.