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Nov 3-4: Bandy Creek, Big South Fork

Bandy Creek is a popular area in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. A homestead was abandoned here in early 1800s and the name "Bandy" is thought to be an abbreviation of saying, "Up on Abandoned Creek." Two great hiking trails begin here. The Oscar Blevins Farm Loop and the John Litton-General Slaven Farm loop are roughly 4 and 6 miles respectively. As the names imply, hikers visit preserved pioneer homesteads that families have lived in for generations. Both families left in the late 1970s when the park purchased the land, and neither farm had the benefit of running water or electricity. It's exceptional, and a little jarring, to discover that the park service is preserving the cumulated effect of settlement – not restored to fit into a prescribed historic period. You'll see old hand-hewn hemlock log cabins tacked 50 or 100 years later with tar paper and faux brick siding. Inside, newspaper was plastered as wallpaper and hardwood floors still moan under foot. Split-rail fences zig-zag around crop plots and walnut and pear trees litter the ground with their fruit. The Litton farm inspires awe when you imagine a family living in such a forlorn and beautiful valley.