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Grandfather Mountain: The History and Guide to an Appalachian Icon Hardcover – June 6, 2016
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Beautifully illustrated and packed with fascinating scientific and historical facts, it's perfect for outdoors enthusiasts who find themselves housebound during a long winter storm.--Richmond Times-Dispatch
In this beautifully illustrated volume, Randy Johnson shares both his knowledge of and love for this iconic mountain.--Appalachian Voices
Grandfather Mountain stands tall as the definitive guide to an essential Western North Carolina locale.--WNC Magazine
Grandfather Mountain's dramatic past revealed. . . . An ode to the newest state park in [Western North Carolina]. . . . The grand-scale coffee table book, with glossy historic and present day photos, detailed topographic maps and hundreds of stories, is a love letter to the mountain.--Asheville Citizen-Times
Local folks will appreciate the thorough capturing of their ancestors described throughout the book, and newcomers to the region will be captivated by the astounding narrative.--Carolina Mountain Life
Reveals the mountain's grandeur. . . . This deeply researched book often reads like a novel as Johnson's passion for his subject shines.--Mary Cornatzer, News and Observer
An illustrated coffee-table love story. . . . Johnson's book illustrates the proposition that you should write about what interests you. His passion and enthusiasm for the place oozes from every paragraph.--Ben Steelman, Wilmington Star-News
Randy Johnson has written the best book on Grandfather Mountain, one of the great landmarks of the Appalachian Mountains. Thanks to Johnson's undeniably warm and engaging voice, this book reveals in an original and comprehensive way the compelling natural and human history of Grandfather Mountain and the surrounding high country of western North Carolina. It belongs on the bookshelf of everyone who loves North Carolina's mountains.--Daniel S. Pierce, University of North Carolina, Asheville
Randy Johnson's telling of Grandfather's story reads like a James Michener novel, with a passion and depth that can only come from being shaped by the mountain. He impresses that passion upon his reader.--Vicky Jarrett, former editor, Our State Magazine
In this loving tribute Randy Johnson has captured the majesty of this national treasure. Through spectacular photographs and a lively, deeply researched narrative, Johnson celebrates the glory of 'the Grandfather' of mountains as no one else has. This volume is both a practical guide for those discovering the area, and a work of art commensurate with the grandeur of the mountain itself.--Robert Morgan, author of Lions of the West
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In 1794, the French botanist André Michaux (1746-1802) sang “La Marseillaise” when he reached the top. In 1898, America’s most famous naturalist, John Muir (1838-1914), had a mystical moment when he reached its highest crag: “I couldn’t hold it in, and began to jump about and sing and glory in it all.” A snow squall in September 1913 caused two expert hikers, Donald Beeson and friend Charles Mathes, to tuck into a cave as they climbed Grandfather’s Attic Window Peak. “With the weather ‘blowing a hurricane’ and a fire blazing ‘in front of the cave mouth,’ Beeson wrote, ‘I doubt if I have ever enjoyed a supper more.’”
A “love letter” to Johnson’s favorite mountain, the book actually is four or five books in one. In all, it tells a story equal to its subject.
It’s an appreciation of a geological marvel that The Nature Conservancy calls an “ecological site of global significance.” Located “where the southernmost part of the North meets the northernmost part of the South,” Johnson writes, Grandfather is “a sweet spot of biodiversity” with 16 separate ecosystems that are home to 73 species of rare or endangered plants and animals.
The book traces Grandfather’s transition from private ownership in the 20th century to preservation as public land in the 21st, making it a study of contemporary conservation and a reassuring one at that. It’s a vibrant history of the backcountry of southern Appalachia and of the United States. And it’s a practical guide to hiking and photographing Grandfather. In this capacity, Johnson’s expertise shines: he devised a hiker fee-funded, safety registration program to keep Grandfather’s trails open in the 1970s, helped build the trail network in place today on the mountain and Blue Ridge Parkway, and has written several Falcon Guides including a bestseller on hiking North Carolina.
The book’s 35 sidebars add breadth and depth. Topics are as varied as the Civil War (Grandfather was a haven for local soldiers who’d deserted the Confederacy and also had its share of Union sympathizers), the Highland Games, which have been held on the mountain since 1956 (North Carolina’s Scots and Scots-Irish ancestry is among the country’s highest), and the back story of the engineering and building of the Linn Cove Viaduct, an astounding almost quarter-mile length of the Blue Ridge Parkway that floats through thin air.
Johnson’s firsthand knowledge and warm, understated writing win the reader’s confidence. Like the botanist Michaux, like John Muir, Johnson is very much in awe of Grandfather Mountain. It shows on every page. At one point he says a “massive mountain helps make a massive impression.” His book does the same to the reader.
The book is well written and a joy to read. The photographs and illustrations are excellent and very helpful overall. There were only a few minor confusing photographs: On the photograph on page 7 - I'm sorry, but I just don't see the Face of Grandfather Mountain there. Perhaps a different picture would illustrate this better? On the photo on page 16, I guess the upper photo is showing what the swinging bridge site looked like before the bridge was there, but I had difficulty seeing where the bridge was later placed. I take it it was across the deepest hump in the ridge?
Overall, the is a gem of a book. The history of the area and its colorful cast of characters and personalities that played a role in the discovery, settlement and coming of age of Grandfather Mountain is thoroughly covered. The final two chapters on hiking and photographing the Mountain are an added bonus.
stretched our legs and shared our souls on Grandfather's lush, shadowed slopes and the windy, sun-dappled rocky crags of its highest peaks are rejoicing that this beautifully comprehensive book is now available!