Sunday, October 23, 2016

autumn road

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid.
--Frederick Buechner

Above: Autumn Road near the Nolichucky River, Erwin, TN.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.
~Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross

The view from Horseback Ridge on Unaka Mountain looking toward Erwin, TN.  The autumn colors are beginning to appear at the highest elevations. Click here for directions. Below is the view looking out toward Buffalo Mountain in the distance -- in the foreground is Stone Mountain and the ridge behind it, Little Mountain.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Pain, Rain and Maine.

No Pain, No Rain, No Maine.
–Appalachian Trail saying. 
Talking with those AT thru hikers that pass through this region in early spring, there are days they wake up to knee-deep snow or weeks when the rain just won't stop. Still the hardy and determined (and possibly insane) trudge on, though the weather will thin their ranks. I appreciate what they do and admire them, but I like my comfy bed and hot shower too much to ever do what they do. Six months is a long time to sleep out of doors. And 2,180 miles is a lot of miles to walk. I often ask them why they're out there. It seems you can put the thru-hikers into two camps: those who say they do it for the bucket-list-worthy, physical challenge of the trek and those who've come to clear their minds and get back in touch with nature. For both groups the pain and rain on the way to Maine is an essential part of this challenging and cleansing experience.

Above: The Appalachian Trail as it crosses the summit of Unaka Mountain in eastern Tennessee. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

light and shadows

Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby.
--Ruth E. Renkel

Hiked up to the summit of Unaka Mountain yesterday around sunset. Such an eerily beautiful place. No majestic mountain views, just spruce pines as far as the eye can see. When the fog and mist move through the trees, it's one of my favorite places to visit. The hike back in the dark was a little treacherous but made for a fun adventure. :)  Pictured here is my friend Peter Nelson hard at work -- visit his gallery here.

For directions and a description of the hike, click here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

point of view

If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from that person's angle as well as from your own.
--Henry Ford (1863-1947) American industrialist.

Above: Rhododendron Gardens Overlook, Roan Mountain.

Monday, July 11, 2016

sacred in the ordinary

The great lesson…is that the sacred in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one's daily life, in one's neighbors, friends, and family, in one's back yard.
--Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) American psychologist.

Above: Fern illuminated by early evening sun

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive.
--Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) Scottish author. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

road to greatness

It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.
--Seneca (c. 4 BC – AD 65) Roman philosopher and statesman.  

The road to the top is narrow and difficult. But worth it. Not having time (or more accurately, energy) to complete the entire 9 to 10 mile Pinnacle Trail (round-trip), I drove to the parking area near the top. The Forest Service road starts out wide and gradual and in pretty good shape, but it gets narrower, steeper and increasingly pot-hole ladened. The good news was that from the parking area, it's a much shorter hike -- 3/4 of a mile walking up the rest of the road from the gate (steep!), or 1.5 miles via the upper section of the Pinnacle Mountain Trail (gradual). We took the trail up and the road coming back down. For a full discussion (with directions) of the Pinnacle Mountain Fire Tower and Trail, click here.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

reaching the heights

All in the dark we grope along,

And if we go amiss
We learn at least which path is wrong,
And there is gain in this.
We do not always win the race
By only running right;
We have to tread the mountain's base
Before we reach its height.
--Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) American Author and Poet.

It's a long and difficult drive to get to Max Patch (an enormous 300 acre bald about 50 miles west of Asheville), but it's well worth the time and effort. I wish it was closer, I'd be there all the time. Click here for directions and full description. Once at the parking area, the masses head straight up the bald ignoring the 'trail closed' signed which is intended to preserve the bald by minimizing erosion. I recommend heeding the sign and turning to your right or left. This loop trail takes you around the bald and then meets up with the Appalachian Trail which will take you to the summit. Most people head straight up the bald, and in the past I've been guilty of that myself. But taking the trail less traveled will really help you to appreciate the scope of Max Patch and give you amazing views everybody else (except thru-hikers) misses.  The top photo is the view of the bald coming in on the AT from the north. The people at the top look like ants! The second photo shows the view once you climb the bald from the south on the AT.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.
--Mitch Albom (b.1958) author. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016


All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous, unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.
--Henry Miller (1891-1980) American Author and Writer. 

Above: Poplar tree leaves budding in spring.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

today is a gift

Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift. That's why it's called the present.
--Bill Keane (1922-2011) American cartoonist.

What a gift! The eight mile long Kingsport Greenbelt offers such beautiful scenery and provides great recreational opportunities for walking, jogging and biking. The path runs from the Exchange Place on the east side of town to Rotherwood Mansion on the west. Visit the website here. To see a detailed map, click here.  See a previous post of mine here.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.
--Harriet Ann Jacobs (1813-1897)

Beautiful bluebell blooms blanket a byway at Winged Deer Park in Johnson City, TN. Click here for a map of the park and its many trails. The scenes above are found on the aptly named Bluebell Loop. The blooms are approaching the end of their spring show, so get out to see them in the next day or so if you're in the area.

Click here for a previous post describing the trails at Winged Deer.

Click here for a link to JC Parks page.

Friday, March 25, 2016

vanishing light

Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.
--Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) French photographer.

Above: Sunset at Beauty Spot looking southeast into North Carolina. You know spring has arrived when the Unaka Mountain Road gate is open once again.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

the gift of music

Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.
--Martin Luther (1483-1546) German theologian.

The photos of the flute player statue were taken a few years ago (at different times of the year) in the gardens outside of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.

"Biltmore Blooms" is underway from March 19-May 26. Save $50 off an annual pass if you order during the month of March. Click here to find out what's blooming now.

Click here, to see my previous Biltmore photos and posts.