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.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

aim high

If you set your goals ridiculously high and it's a failure, you will fail above everyone else's success.

--James Cameron (b.1954) Canadian filmmaker and explorer.

Above: Appalachian Trail on Round Bald in the Roan Highlands

Sunday, March 13, 2016

filled with glory

Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory. 
--Betty Smith (1896-1972) American author.

Above: My friend Tim takes in this view of the Nolichucky River from the Appalachian Trail for the first time. For a description of the hike and directions, click here.

The Nolichucky is a tributary of the French Broad River and flows 115 miles from western North Carolina through east Tennessee. The name, Nolichucky, is a bit unclear. Some say the name derived from a Cherokee village that once stood near today's Jonesborough, TN the name of which meant "spruce pine place." Local lore says it derives from an Indian word meaning "Rushing Water(s)", "Dangerous Water(s)", or "Black Swirling Water." As you can probably guess, today it is a popular whitewater rafting destination. The railroad bridge you see in the photo was built way back in 1907.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


Success and failure. We think of them as opposites, but they're really not. They're companions - the hero and the sidekick. 
--Laurence Shames (b.1951) author.

Above: Blue and my shadow on the Appalachian Trail. This is the view from Round Bald looking out on Jane Bald and Grassy Ridge.

Friday, March 11, 2016

B&W Photography

To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul.  – Andri Cauldwell (b.1982) photographer.

I always turn to working in black and white at this time of year when the colors of our world are still at their lowest ebb (at least in higher elevations). An accomplished landscape photographer was asked why he preferred to work in color. He explained that color photography is akin to non-fiction, while black and white photography is fiction -- and he preferred to capture the world as it is. There's an honesty to color photography. Black and white gives us an artificial, 'unreal' way of viewing the world. I think for many, that's the allure of it. It's seeing the world in a  unique way -- and in the process we notice new aspects of a scene that were hidden or obscured by color: light and shadow, texture, lines, shapes, repetition -- all become more prominent as we remove the distraction of color.

Above: Appalachian Trail near Round Bald in the Roan Highlands.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Changes to Lower Higgins Creek

With the purchase of the expansive Rocky Fork tract in Unicoi County, TN and the recent creation of the Rocky Fork State Park, efforts are underway to  make it more accessible to larger numbers of visitors. On the northern edge of the park, at the Lower Higgins Creek entrance, you can see a great deal of work is underway: the rickety, old bridge has been replaced and the road leading into the park has been widened. I'm happy to see more people visiting and enjoying the area, and the new bridge was desperately needed. I'll miss the wildflowers that used to line the path in this section of the park. Things are in pretty rough shape at this point, and parking still limited. But clearly changes and improvements are underway.

The top photo is of the first waterfall you come to, Lower Higgins Creek Falls (100 ft tall). The second is of the area where the new bridge was installed. Next is the widened road leading into the park. The bottom photo is of the turn around area where the road ends and a new gate has been installed.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


I believe that appreciation is a holy thing, that when we look for what's best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we're doing what God does; so in appreciating our neighbor, we're participating in something truly sacred.

--Fred Rogers (1928-2003) TV personality, minister, author.

Above: Lower Higgins Creek Falls, directions here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

the lingering season

Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour.
--John Boswell

Above: A snowy pastoral scene found near Unicoi, TN.

Monday, January 25, 2016

cabin sweet cabin

There is hardly a pioneer's hut which does not contain a few odd volumes of Shakespeare. I remember reading the feudal drama of Henry V for the first time in a log cabin.
--Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) French Historian and Political scientist.

Above: Fort Watauga at Sycamore Shoals State Park in Elizabethton, TN.