It had been at least sixteen years since my last visit, but when Jessica and I began planning our trip to North Carolina, I made sure that Whiteside was on the itinerary. At the trailhead, I was pleased to learn that the rock face, a popular destination for climbers, was still closed by the U.S. Forest Service on a seasonal basis for the benefit of the peregrines. Eleven pairs of peregrines nested in western North Carolina last year, eight of those pairs on USFS land, but of the eight, only three pairs fledged young.
We began our hike in fine conditions, but by the time we got to the observation platform (actually, a new platform, the old one having apparently been replaced in the interval), heavy cloud had rolled in and the cliff was invisible in the fog. No matter; it was enough to be there, and to know that the peregrines were there too. As has been observed before, "They sure know where to live."
[Photos by Mark and Jess]