by Indy Srinath, staff writer
Soon the gray shadow of winter will hide behind the white pines again and spring will bare its warm face, casting light on the Warren Wilson campus. For some, this means graduation is approaching, and while the to-do list of most spring graduates is probably centered around finishing their senior thesis, it’s important to appreciate the simple splendor of our college campus before you make your way across the state, across the country, or across the world. So whether you are graduating this spring, three springs from now, or even if you’re just leaving for the summer, don’t miss these ten must see places.
- The top of Jones Mountain: many will make the trek, but not all will reach the top. If you do make it to the top, however, you will be granted the beauty of seeing the Swannanoa Valley the size of an ant farm in the distance. It’s breathtaking.
- Suicide Ridge: hike, run, walk, or crawl along the trail. However you tackle suicide ridge, you are sure to get a nice workout. Enjoy Red’s cabin, relax under the shade of the budding rhododendrons, hide out (and watch out for rattlesnakes!) in the rock cave, look out upon the Blue Ridge Mountains. This is a hiking spot that is a must see for anyone who goes to Warren Wilson.
- The Christmas tree forest: rows and rows of evergreen trees will make you feel like you are on the path to Santa’s workshop. Stain your fingers with the deep fuchsia juice of the pokeberry bushes as you make your way through the grid of coniferous trees. Sit on the pine needle carpeted ground in the man made hut on the edge of the forest. Go at sunset, when the evening sun is casting golden slants of light between the dark green foliage. You will feel the mysticism.
- The treehouse: this one you’ll have to find for yourself. Just hike around the Dan’s pasture trail. Find the old dam. Or ask someone to take you. It is the magical fort of your childhood.
- The meditation hut: You’ve probably been to the meditation hut a thousand times, but go again. It’s a spot that never loses its value. Bring your friends for an after dinner smoke. Go alone and meditate, focusing on the beauty of the forest that houses you. Peak out the windows at the trail runners. Climb on the roof and enjoy life from the vantage point of a squirrel. Whatever you do, before you leave, visit the meditation hut again.
- Fortune property: Five apple trees and rows of native grasses are what make the Fortune property serene. This is a great place to enjoy the feeling of open spaces on a campus where you are constantly surrounded by the tall presence of hemlocks. Go at sunrise and face the east. What you will see in the distance will give you good vibes all day.
- The Apple Orchard: hike out to Jones mountain and you will find the apple orchard. The nurturing spring sun will make the trees bud into a hundred creamy pink flowers. Bring a book, grab an apple, relax.
- The river trail: the river trail has a myriad of cool spots all along its rocky shoreline. Smell the sweet grassy aroma of the farm as you meander its shaded path. Watch the cardinals dart from the tops of the pines. Coax the chickens that hang out in the underbrush picking at grubs back across the fence. Skip stones where the water becomes a shallow beach across from the pasture. Take a break on the cool surface of the giant cave-like rocks. Find where the river dams, shed your clothes, and jump in.
- Dogwood: this is one to visit for memory’s sake. Take a nostalgic trek around dogwood. Sit under the cedar tree and watch the old Tibetan prayer flags wave and flow in the cool wind. Run through the tall grasses. Look out upon the mountains and feel humbled again.
- Owen park: take the river trail all the way out to Owen park. Hike the trails around the two placidly peaceful cerulean ponds. Play a game of pick up on the basketball courts or watch clouds from the baseball field. You’ll feel rejuvenated.
These ten places are a must see, but, before you leave, make your own list of ten places to visit before you’re gone. Enjoy Warren Wilson while you’re here, go to the farm, go to night pasture, run all of the trails. Your time at college is short yet beautiful, enjoy it.