(1) FAIR WARNING
Many of the Fathers of Mercy have mentioned to me that they would like to stop by occasionally to have a look see at the hermitage, so that my being a hermit on the top of mountain ridge is not so much a mystery for them.
Many seminarians I taught or formed up in the Pontifical College Josephinum said they would be stopping by as well. Some were already here to help conduct a Totus Tuus retreat on behalf o the diocese of Charlotte, even though they came from across the USA.
Priests and seminarians of the Diocese of Charlotte have said that they just might be brave enough to come up into the mountains. Some of them live right close for that matter.
For those priests and seminarians who will be visiting Holy Souls Hermitage — not to mention the Bishop when he comes to bless the chapel and the hermitage — this is fair warning about what to expect if you take the shortcut to get here.
You might think that you can ignore the truckers warning sign that you’ll see, and just be enthralled by the National Forest sign. But don’t be fooled. You’ll only be on that nice road for about a mile. After that, things can get a bit rough. For instance, you’ll surely have to drive around other vehicles (sometimes not possible without backing up far enough not to get pushed into the ravine):
And you’ll have to drive through a creek:
And, perhaps, under fallen trees:
They can crash down on you from across the creek:
Then, if you’re not careful around the hairpin double blind curves, not exceeding 5 miles an hour, you might still drive off the road accidentally, if you try to drive around someone who has been nice enough to stop for you and pull off the road to let you pass, however much that might be possible. This just happened the other day:
That’s looking straight down the tire track into the deep ravine. The fellow who fell off the edge was trying to pass around someone who had pulled over and stopped to let him attempt to drive around. That didn’t work so well. He wasn’t hurt at all by the way. Note that the nice fellow who graded the road recently, pushed the dirt right to the edge, over the leaves on the edge, giving the false sense of security that the road is wider that it is. The least pressure, of course, knocks the dirt off the leaves and the vehicle goes down, and down, and down.
This year, so far: three cars, two trucks and a van (not counting the camper) have driven over the edge.
It’s a no-fault single-lane road, meaning that your insurance or the other person’s will not help you if you have a collision. Drive slowly around the curves. Immediately stop and back up to a place of safety if you see an oncoming vehicle. Let them pass, dimming your lights at night. Your courtesy will be noted and praised!
Here’s where a another car drove too close to the edge and the edge caved in. You’re looking straight down into the ravine. There is no edge to the road:
And here are a few pics of so-far minor washouts (which get worse with every rain):
The worst washout, now fixed, took out about twenty feet of roadway about three quarters of the way across the road. Before that one was fixed, there were more than a dozen washouts. It changes from day to day, in severity and number. It rains most every day… Some of these you can’t see so well from your vehicle, but if you hit them right they can rip your wheel off the axle and thow you down the ravine. The picture above, with the culvert, is typical. It’s never long enough, and eventually the erosion makes the whole works cave in.
UPDATE: Perhaps the N.C. DOT keeps track of this page, or maybe it was the fact that I mentioned the state of the road to the State Police when a super cool officer helped to save my neighbor’s life the other day. Within hours of my mentioning the washouts there were trucks with gravel and a grader at work. However, what they did will only last a few rains. In fact, everything is already disintegrating. Just the way it is.
(2) WHO CAN VISIT
Although requests by the laity to come out to the hermitage, the understanding that I have with my ecclesiasatical superiors, who are very generously permitting me to be a hermit, is that visits will be limited to those for whom I am especially dedicating the hermitage, that is, seminarians, priests and bishops. Rarely, exceptions are made, for instance, parents of seminarians and priests and bishops. Hermits are, or should be, after all, hermits!
Saint Paul the hermit, unflinching in his Catholic orthodoxy, was fleeing a persecution so severe that fleeing for his life brought him his hermit life which he then embraced. The hermit Anthony the Great went through great trials of being a hermit, and then started receiving visits from many coming from far and wide.
Diversely, I’ve always felt called to be what I call a hermit-hermit, though perhaps along the lines of Saint Jerome. More on those who visited the “cave” in Bethlehem in number (5) below…
(3) You know you’re getting close when…
When you see the Hemlocks with the dreaded Woolly Adelgid horror all over them. Blasted nymphs!
And when you see the one lane bridge:
Should you make it over without puncturing your tires:
And should you not run into the rock wall right on the other side:
And you see and hear this:
and you see and hear this:
and you see and hear this:
because of which you’ll see and hear this:
in the same place as you see and hear this:
– a picture of which after a bucketing rain fall –
… and then, should you see this (more important than you know!):
and perhaps this:
and finally this:
you know you’re getting close!
(4) Directions to the hermitage
Bishops, priests and seminarians can get a map and other directions HERE by first emailing me for the password for the directions and map. N.B. No guest quarters… and no hermitage completed… yet! We might have to hold off on the visits for awhile. The last crowd of seminarians pitched tents up the mountain!
(5) Visits to the hermitage, Saint Jerome style