Where is Cold Ass Creek?A recent guest Don Rice at the Creekside Cozy Cabin in the Wilson Creek River Gorge wrote a story about his search for a infamous and mysterious Cold Ass Creek in our area. To completely cover the area Don rode his bike roughly 50 miles in the area surrounding where the purported creek might have been. Don is an avid outdoor enthusiast, running, biking and history buff. Here is his story:
In Search of Cold Ass Creek, Mortimer and Moore…..
I spent Saturday, 16 November biking and exploring in the Wilson Creek area. Wilson Creek flows off the south side of Grandfather Mountain becoming a sizeable creek as it flows along Brown Mountain Road before emptying into Johns River which flows into the Catawba River. It is popular with outdoor enthusiast such as trout fisherman, runner, hikers, and kayakers and it is a place that I have fallen in love with.
I had debated all week going up to Wilson Creek for a bike ride but in the end decided to head up on Friday to camp and get up the next morning and ride. The area is “spider webbed” with gravel roads that stretch up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Hwy 221 just below Grandfather Mountain and it was those roads I wanted to ride.
Was late leaving home on Friday as my daughter was in town and wanted to spend all the time I could with her so, I left as she did about 3:30 PM. As I headed up, made my daily call to my mom and told her what I was up to. “How do you get into all these crazy things? And you are going by yourself?” she said. “Yes, I don’t know mom, it just happens” I said with a hearty laugh. By the time I arrived in Mortimer it was dark and rain had set in. As I arrived at Mortimer Campground I found the entrance was blocked by gates and the campground was closed for the season. Betsey’s Old Country Store was only a couple of hundred yards away and there were lights on and a big neon OPEN sign inviting me to come inside. Betsey’s Old Country Store is the only remaining building of what was a mill town that at one time had 800 residents. The original front part of the building was a store and Post Office at one time. Here is a link to some pictures from what the town was like before it flooded in 1940 and was abandoned soon after.
As I entered Betsey’s, Bruce Gray, the owner greeted me and when I explained my predicament, he told me where to pitch my tent and to come back and visit once I got my tent up. Pitched my tent in the cold fog and rain, and headed back to the store to see Bruce.
As I came in the store, Bruce greeted me and soon invited me to come back behind the counter into an addition to the store that is his home. He had a roaring fire in a cast iron stove and as I was chilled it felt really good. I set down in a chair and we began to talk. Bruce is very knowledgeable of the area and so when he saw my interest in the history of the area he began to tell stories. He explained that Edgemont road (Hwy 90) was a wagon road from the 1800’s. He talked of the nearby town of Globe and the Elizabethan dialect that is still spoken there and schooled me in how to pronounce certain words:
· Vowels are pronounced for a slightly longer period of time than those in standard of English – "red" is pronounced "rey-uhd
· Words with the vowel "O" in the middle, tend to be "drawn” – He told me that when residents of Globe pronounce where they are from they say “Gl.oh’-b”
I was particularly interested in the stories of Globe as I am reading a book called “A Valley Called Globe” by Bud Altmayer which tells the story of a pioneer family, Jesse and Alley Moore who left their home near Lynchburg, Virginia in the 1770’s and ended up settling in a valley they called Globe. It is a delightful and vivid story of what life was like for the isolated mountain pioneers that they were. The Moore’s settled on 300 acres that bordered Johns River and Cold Ass Creek. I was interested in trying to find the spot they settled and farmed when I took my bike ride so I asked Bruce about it. He could not recall hearing of a creek by that name before but was quickly on the phone to a friend who he thought would know…..the friend said he was not sure, thought maybe had, but would have to ask around. They talked on about the things men talk about, the weather, the Table Rock fire, the wood that his friend hoped to cut the next day and of a beautiful, shapely, dark-haired girl he had seen earlier in the day. It was a while before Bruce was able to get off the phone........ I never was able to find Cold Ass Creek but since I got home I have found Cold Water Creek which flows into the Johns River. Perhaps, the name was changed during the Victorian Era with the period’s attention to high morals, modesty and proper decorum.
I left and headed back to my tent to sip some Jim Beam and read some more of “A Valley Called Globe.” Oh, but I had internet service so I had to chat on FB with my best buds first. I had just said my good nights and started to read when I heard a hearty “HELLO” from just outside my tent so I answered back “Bruce?” “No, this is not Bruce, I am in the cabin beside you, saw you set the tent up in the cold rain and wanted to offer for you to come over and get warm in my cabin.” I think his name was Steve. The cabin was nice and warm. Steve is a fishing boat captain and comes up to Mortimer frequently when his fishing business is slow at the coast. We traded fish stories for an hour or so…great guy…told me if I got cold in the night he would leave the door unlocked so I could just come on in and sleep on the sofa.
All this put me to bed later than my normal 9 pm bedtime so I slept in Saturday morning, made and drank my coffee, and read without ever leaving the confines of my warm down sleeping bag. About 8:30 am I got up to get started on my bike ride. My plan was to ride almost 50 miles, heading up Edgemont Road to Hwy 221 near the Grandfather Mountain entrance, then take 221 to Blowing Rock and then take Globe Road out of Blowing Rock back down towards Mortimer.
As I started my bike ride, the distant, haunting sound of baying hounds was nearly constant. I later learned they were mostly Treeing Walker Coonhounds and they were hunting bear. At about 2 miles, two large (maybe not of prehistoric proportions but big) wild turkeys flew up about 10 – 15 feet away and reached a height of maybe 10 feet as they flew over my head. That and the strong cowboy coffee I had made on my camp stove got my heart to racing and I picked up the pace as I continued to make the 3000 foot climb up to 221.
It wasn’t long after that I saw three Walker hounds trotting down the road towards me. They paid me almost no attention as they passed by, intent on their mission of finding a bear. Each had a radio collar with two antennae sticking straight up. It was probably a half mile down the road that I sighted the dog’s owners in a Ford pickup with dog cages in the back headed down the road after them. Actually, saw maybe 10 – 15 similarly equipped pickup trucks during my ride and talked with one of the bear hunters towards the end of my ride. He was on the side of the road talking to his buddies on what I assume was a CB radio. Seems they had not seen nor been able to get a radio signal form their dogs for the last hour. They did not seem too worried, seems it must be par of the course. They did say that earlier in the day their dogs treed a bear but that somehow he escaped before they could get there.
I continued the uphill climb. The night before, Bruce had told me of a log cabin that I should see. He said it dated to the early 1800’s. As I approached the area I thought he was talking about, I saw a mobile home. Bruce had told me the log cabin was behind the mobile home and that I should be very cautious as there was an ornery, unpredictable mountain man living there. Given his warning I had no intention to explore but hoped to get a glance at the log cabin. Just as I rode by the trailer I was startled by a very loud BAM as a gunshot rang out and scared me to death. I did not know that my bike could move that fast!!!! I am sure it was coincidence but that shot was less than 40 feet away, and I had no intention of trying to find out where it came from, so without a word I sped away as fast as my pedaling would carry me.
It was about 15 miles up Edgemont Road before I got to 221. Edgemont intersects 221 at about mile 24 of the Grandfather Mountain Marathon and I could see the painted numbers on the road. The fog was pretty thick and as my pictures would later reveal seemed thicker to me as my glasses stayed misted over. It was not so bad when I was on the gravel roads as there was no traffic, but as I got on 221 and particularly as I got to Dennis and Lou’s Misty Mountain neighborhood there was quite a bit of traffic. I was afraid folks would not see me so I listened carefully for traffic coming up behind and pulled off the road and stopped for each car that passed. I was pretty wet and cold with the mist, fog, and mid 40 F temperature so Kojay’s Coffee was a welcome sight. Ordered a large coffee and a huge mocha chocolate brownie and indulged myself as I warmed up before I started my descent down Globe Road. I really stayed longer than intended but just did not want to hit the road again.
As I left Kojay’s the fog had lifted and occasionally sunlight filtered through the trees with its warmth and the ride I had dreaded was a delight. The turn onto Globe Road is only a couple of blocks south of Kojays and the steep descent down the rocky road starts almost immediately. It is a beautiful ride and before long I found myself in the wide valley of the Johns River. I saw a couple in a pickup at the end of their drive that seemed to not be in such a hurry so I stopped to say hey. A lady I would guess to be in her mid-50’s was driving and her husband about the same age and apparently of Mexican descent was beside her. She would stop our conversation periodically and translate to her husband what we had said. We talked some about the history of the area and I of course asked her if she had heard of Cold Ass Creek. Unfortunately, she had not heard of it but did share some of the history of the area and said that her family had been there a long, long time. I asked her what her last name was and she said “Estes.” For Peak to Creek Marathons year, a group of us stayed at Creekside Cozy Cabin on Estes Mill Creek. I had opened my bedroom window and could hear the sounds of the waterfall just outside all night long. It was one of the best nights of sleep I can remember having. Anyway, I immediately recognized her last name. I told her about my night sleeping to the sounds of the stream named after her family. I told her that I had been reading a book called “A Valley Called Globe” and that there was a man in the book called Reuben Estes. Unfortunately, she did not recognize the name but I told her a little about Jesse and Alley Moore and their remarkable story of leaving Virginia and settling in the area. It was in fact, Reuben Estes, her ancestor, the pioneer / farmer who loaned money and in many, many ways helped the Moore’s establish a farm in the village they would later name Globe.
The valley of Glove is quite beautiful with a relatively wide expanse of what is still farm land along the Johns River with a beautiful backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are corn and other food crops grown there today as it was in the 1700’s but, much more of it now is planted with various ornamental shrubs and trees.
As I rode the last miles I stopped at a bear hunter’s pickup to chat. He lives off of Playmore Beach Road which is 15 miles south of Mortimer and said he spends more time wandering around Wilson Creek than he does at home. He went on and on about how much he loved being out there. I just kept nodding my head in agreement!!! Left the bear hunter and headed back to Betsey’s Country where Bruce and a bunch of his buddies were gathered around a campfire telling stories. Sure wanted to stay. I got me one of Bruce’s hot dogs with chili, slaw and mustard…oh so good… and then headed home.
Felt pretty sad leaving, have to get back up there soon!!!
Bruce Gray - Peace and Love
Bruce Gray Proprietor of Betsey's Country Store, Mayor of Mortimer......manages his Country Store camp ground, trout pond and is the local expert for hiking trails, fishing, tube rentals, hot dog eatery and town gathering place to sit by a fire or on the internet cafe porch and hear the stories of the day.
Camping Spot at Betsey’s Old Country Store
Bath house, picnic tables, fire pits camping at its best
For camping go to: Betsey's Ole Time Country Store on Facebook
Betsey's Old Country Store, Mortimer NC
Covered front porch with Internet access
View from bridge of the Wilson Creek
Coffee's Country Store in Edgemont
Antiques and candy counter
Old Time Post office in Edgemont Country Store and Voting Place
Past the Town of Edgemont, and ascending up to Hwy 221
At top of Edgemont Road Hwy 221 into Blowing Rock NC
Road sign at the Intersection of Anthony Creek and Edgemont Rd (Hwy 90)
Gragg, NC in Cary's Flat
Warning Sign bears beware up here in these parts
Dried up Creek bed rock formation?
Decent from Blowing Rock down Globe Road
Near Base of Globe is Tree Farm
Globe Christmas Tree and Landscaping Farms
Deer cornfield down at the bottom of Globe Road near Cold Ass Creek
Globe Baptist Church in Globe Valley
Ingram's Tree farm and property along Hwy 90
Infamous Staircase Mountain curvy road (Hwy 90) part of Edgemont Road
Brown Mountain Lodge Cabin rentals (BML) on Hwy 90 near Mortimer
To book your next Brown Mountain Cabin Rentals getaway click the link:
Waterwheel lookout sign at the BML
Creekside Cozy Cabin (CCC) Rental also on Estes Mill Creek just down road from the BML