Riding the Tater Tunnel Trail
April 8, 2019

In the good old days before refrigeration, ice cream and the device you’re reading this on, folks used to store their canned goods and root vegetables in root cellars. Around here in western North Carolina, folks call them tater tunnels, because that’s were potatoes were stored. I counted 5 on the roads that lead from Colletsville to Gragg. No doubt I passed many more that were hidden. Call it the tater tunnel day.

Bernie Harberts, tater tunnel
How we started the day in Globe. The big pile is my gear under a poncho. I try to keep my gear dry, be it from dew or downpour. The slanty-looking constuction is where I slept last night. It’s a poncho tied over some sticks and string and my bivy bag. It poured last night but I was cozy dry. Thanks Milton Gragg for putting us up.
Bernie Harberts, tater tunnel
Cracker and Brick descending a stretch of Globe Mountain Road that connects Colletsville to Globe.
Bernie Harberts, tater tunnel
Look closely and chances are good you’ll spy a tater tunnel like this one behind one of the many abandoned homesteads that line the road. I’ve driven by this one many times without seeing it. I had to clip clop past by mule for it to catch my eye.

Some tater tunnels are on the road. Others are in folks’ back yards. Some look like a giant mole bored its way out out of the mountain, blinked its eyes and went back inside. Others are more elaborate, like this one at the Anita Alta horse camp.

Bernie Harberts, bride, mule
This tater tunnel is fronted with stonework.
Bernie Harberts, bride, mule
Metal in the overhead beam that supports the entrance. If I was better with old equipment I could probably tell you what it is.

My favorite one of the day I found on the side of the road deep in the woods. How it wound up beside a gravel road I have no idea. Well, actually, it’s probably the other way around. It was dug when what’s now the road was just a path. Gives you an idea of how old it is.

Bernie Harberts, bride, mule
Cracker ponders what Hobbit-looking beast could come bounding out of this tater tunnel. He is not a fan of the tater tunnel and requires vigorous riding to get even close. Of course I had to climb off my mule for a peek inside.
Bernie Harberts, mule tater tunnel
The sides were sandy, crumbly, the walls green with moss. At a glance, the tunnel shape had an arch-like feel to it, like something you might find in the annex of a cathedral. Or a sand castle.
Bernie Harberts, bride, mule
Close-up of a root feeling its way down the wall. Makes a man feel a lot like a mole.
Bernie Harberts, mule tater tunnel
“Oh hell no!” Cracker said when I invited him inside. Brick wanted to know if found any taters. I informed her, that sadly, I had not.

Day’s end found us in Gragg. Tonight we are camping at Richard Gragg’s. Thanks for putting us up Richard!

Posted Monday April 8, 2019 by Bernie
Where this story happened:

Pardon my ignorance, but isn’t a Top Hat the proper attire for a Tater Hole?
“Top Hats & Tater Hole’s” sounds like another book project.
I’m still hollering down every morning!
Good luck!

— Pete Lupo · Tuesday April 9, 2019 · #

I was always amazed at how much more is revealed at walking speed compared with what is seen when driving by in a car. Our brains are definitely designed to process information gathered at 3 MPH.

— Bob Skelding · Tuesday April 9, 2019 · #

It’s good to see that you are finally off on your adventure on hoofs. I’ve traveled 463 miles on my two-wheeled steed so far. I am going across middle Georgia about 6 miles faster than you what travel.

I love the picture of where you stayed. Saturday night, I was camped out in my tent in a thunderstorm in Geneva, GA. Last night, I was camped out on the floor of a classroom of the First Baptist Church in Butler, GA sleeping on two crib mattresses that the associate pastor got for me. Tonight, I will be sleeping on a king sized mattress. The pastor at the Methodist Church in Fort Valley, GA offered to get me a room at a local motel instead of letting me camp out in his church tonight.

You and I know just to carry the essentials. This morning a few miles out of Reynolds, GA, I came across a guy walking his bicycle. The bicycle was so packed up that I couldn’t see the frame. The guy was also towing a two-wheeled kiddie trailer that was overstuffed. This wasn’t enough for the guy because he was wearing a large backpack. The guy’s load must have been over 250 pounds.

Rev Johannes Myors · Wednesday April 10, 2019 · #

Hey Pete,
Didn’t you get my hollerin’ code?
I was trying to say “Top Hats & Tater Hole’s would be a great name for a book.” Do we have an intellectual copyright issue here? Let’s holler it out.
Your holler dweller buddy Bernie

Bernie Harberts · Saturday April 13, 2019 · #

Hi Bob and Rev Hans,
Great hearing from you my horse and bike traveling friends. Bob, you’re one of the few folks I know that gets the long-term observational benefits of moving at 3mph. It’s amazing when you match up brain speed with life speed. You see all the details like the cement-filled mailboxes in some neighborhoods and the way the river flows around large rocks.
Rev Hans, you really gotta write up all those places you’ve slept this week! Now if I could just squeeze mules Brick and Cracker in to a hotel room…..
Super hearing from you my wandering friends. Keep in touch

Bernie Harberts · Saturday April 13, 2019 · #

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