Friday, December 19, 2014

departing sun

Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart. 

--Washington Irving (1783-1859) American Writer.

Arrived at Little Rock Knob on Iron Mountain just in time to see the sun rays gleaming down on the distant mountains -- a little out of the way, but worth the trek. It's one of my favorite overlooks in our region. I wasn't sure which version I liked best, so I posted them both. The black and white seems to be less distracting to me -- and I was able to push the adjustments a little more. But I like the color one too.  :)  We had to hustle down the mountain to get back to the car before dark!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Colorado Springs

I visited Colorado Springs over Thanksgiving and thought I'd share some photos from my trip. This was my second visit to the Springs and once again I was in awe of the scenery. Click here for summer pics from my 2012 trip. The photo above is of Pikes Peak -- as seen from the Garden of the Gods.  Didn't venture up to the peak this time out. Though the weather was nice below, I didn't want to find out how cold and windy it was up there! But the Garden of the Gods is very easy to get to and such a beautiful place to explore.

We also ventured up Gold Camp Road which is a narrow dirt road (following the path of an old railroad line) that takes visitors up the foothills of Cheyenne Mountain.  Along the way we drove through two tunnels and had great overlooks of the city far below and surrounding peaks. The snowy conditions on the road made for an interesting mountain ride!  I found this quote while searching for information: "When President Theodore Roosevelt traveled this route, he described its beauty as 'bankrupting the English language.'"

We next visited Mueller State Park about 30 miles west of the city. It was a gorgeous day and we were able to get out and explore. This would be a fantastic place to rent a cabin and do some hiking. But our time there was limited to a couple short, 'out and back' hikes.  I'd love to return to see more of the park.

Finally, we drove out to Canon City. The hour long drive itself along Highways 115 and 50 was amazing. This area of the state is dry and rugged, with stunning mountain ranges to be seen around every turn. There are many things to see and do in this part of the state, but we were focused on visiting the Royal Gorge Bridge. Those from Appalachia might compare it to Grandfather Mountain. It too is a suspension bridge, but the two are quite different in scale. This bridge is huge. So large they drive buses and cars over it. Feeling the bridge move and shake as a bus drives along its wooden planks is an experience. What the two bridges do have in common is extreme weather. Cold winds whipped through the gorge, making our journey quite frigid. Far below is the Arkansas River and a railroad line which still operates, giving visitors a very close up glimpse of this canyon and river.   

Thanks for letting me share with you some non-Appalachian images. I hope to get back to sharing more local images soon. But... here's the bad news... Blue hurt his knee playing frisbee and just had knee surgery! It's going to be a long healing process for him. But while his frisbee playing days might be over, I hope he'll have lots more hiking adventures to come! Until then, I might not be getting out as much without my hiking buddy. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

ol' blue eyes

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself. 
--Josh Billings (1815-1885) American humorist and lecturer.

Hard to believe it's been four years... This was taken the day Blue arrived home from the shelter. From the very start he's loved playing fetch. :)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

give thanks

When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself. 

--Tecumseh (1768-1813) Native American leader of the Shawnee.

Above: Roan Highlands Morning (taken this past September).

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

why we climb

Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.
--Greg Child (b.1957) Australian-born rock climber, mountaineer, author and filmmaker.

I continue to comb through my autumn excursions for photos to share. These are from a rainy trip to Grayson Highlands State Park in Southwest Virginia in October. The clouds and rain got worse the longer I hiked, so by time I made it to the wild ponies, whatever good light I had was gone.

Seems I always pick extreme days to visit Grayson. I've been there when it's pouring rain, freezing cold and blazing hot. But whatever the weather, I'm always in awe of this place. With so many trails to hike, jagged peaks to climb and magnificent vistas to enjoy, there's beauty and wonder in every direction.  It's one of the most memorable places found along the 2,180 mile Appalachian Trail. While it's off the beaten path for most of us, it's well worth the journey.

Admission to the park is now $4 on weekdays, $5 on weekends, per vehicle. Such a deal. I still have a lot to explore at the park. Click here to visit the website, which includes driving directions and a detailed trail map. The Friends of Grayson Highlands webpage includes current weather information and a webcam. Another helpful resource is the Sherpa Guide.

Click here to see my previous Grayson photos and posts.

Monday, November 24, 2014

healing path

We do not heal the past by dwelling there; we heal the past by living fully in the present. 
--Marianne Williamson (b.1952) author.

Above: The Appalachian Trail on a rainy, autumn day.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

stormy weather

Faith is not a delicate flower which would wither away under the slightest stormy weather. 
--Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian Philosopher.

I haven't gotten out much to shoot lately, so I'm looking through my autumn shots from this fall for photos to share. Two of the prime weekends for fall color this October were stormy. So I have a lot of rainy, misty shots this autumn. At the time I took the shot above, there was a steady drizzle of rain, and I had had it. Hiking in the rain, keeping the camera dry and the lens free of rain drops (while holding a dog on a leash) ... not much fun! But shooting in these conditions can often make for some interesting shots in spite of the frustrations.

The photo on the left shows an old boat ramp entering the western end of lake near Hampton, TN. It makes me wonder where the roads used to be before the lake was completed by the TVA in 1948. Who knows, maybe this was an old road bed that led to the old town of Butler?  I haven't seen any old, 'pre-Watauga Lake' road maps of the area. There is a nice Butler museum in the new town of Butler, TN which is worth checking out if you're ever out that way (open seasonally). It tells the interesting history of the town and the people displaced by the lake.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Red Fork Falls

I ventured out to Red Fork Falls a couple weeks back and climbed down this series of beautiful waterfalls on Unaka Mountain further than I usually do.  Thought I'd share images of the six distinctive waterfalls to be found at Red Fork.  

1. This is the first waterfall you'll find at Red Fork. It's small, probably only 5 feet tall. Often I have found swirling watering in this area -- didn't quite work this time around, but under the right conditions, this creates a unique effect.

2. The main waterfall you see in the photo at the top of this post is actually the second one you'll encounter. At 60' this is quite impressive and powerful. In times of high water flow, you'll find the water forming a 'rooster tail' as it rushes out over the cascade.  

3. This cascading corkscrew is such an amazing feature. It's found immediately below the main waterfall. Like a water slide, the water rushes through a narrow, twisting formation on its way to the next small waterfall.

4. Continue climbing down the path and you next come to this stunning waterfall.  After the main waterfall, I consider this to be the next most beautiful one. It's worth climbing down to see!

5. Further down you come to this small split waterfall.

6. Finally I reached the end point of my adventure. This is another smallish waterfall, but a beauty. Some websites say there are eight waterfalls at Red Fork. I suppose it depends how you count them, but it's likely that there are others below what you see here. I have always stopped here at this point because opposite this waterfall is a sharply angled, slippery rock that usually keeps me from moving on! And plus, by this point, I'm pretty well exhausted from all the climbing. :)

For directions and a description of this short, but difficult (and dangerous) hike, click here. This isn't a hike for the kids or to take the dog on. There's a lot of climbing. It's also extremely slippery at the top of the main falls, so don't approach the edge. People have been seriously injured here. Below the main fall is also crazy slippery. But watch your step, take your time and you'll enjoy exploring Red Fork.

Before venturing out, please read my warnings, safety tips and disclaimers.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Glory Glory

A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.  
--C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) author and theologian.

A gorgeous weekend...great to see the colors staying around so long this fall. :)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

time slips away

Time by minutes slips away,
First the hour, then the day,
Small the daily loss appears,
Yet soon it amounts to years. 

--Ronald Tierney (b.1944) author.

Time got away from me and I didn't get these photos posted until now of last week's "sneak peak" at winter.  Glad to have warmer weather this weekend! These scenes are of Unaka Mountain in Unicoi County, TN.

Monday, November 3, 2014

autumn leaves

I miss you most of all my darling, 
When autumn leaves start to fall.  
--Jacques PrĂ©vert (1900-1977) French poet and screenwriter. 

Above: Buffalo Mountain as seen from Mountain Home (VA Center) in Johnson City, TN.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

autumn snow

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.

--Bill Morgan, Jr.

Above: Unaka Mountain covered in autumn snow. I'm glad winter hasn't decided to dig in its heels quite yet... There's still the beautiful late autumn colors to enjoy. But I have to admit, I love the contrast of seasons on display this weekend. :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

beauty within and without

Think of all the beauty that is still left in and around you and be happy.
--Anne Frank (1929-1945) writer and Holocaust victim.

Above: Red Fork Falls (taken Oct 19th) found on Unaka Mountain.

Monday, October 27, 2014

be true

Voyage upon life's sea,
To yourself be true,
And, whatever your lot may be,
Paddle your own canoe.

--Sarah Bolton (1814-1893) American poet.

Above: Taken last weekend, here's Price Lake found along the Blue Ridge Parkway, with Grandfather Mountain in the background.

Friday, October 24, 2014


You must take personal responsibility. you cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of. 
--Jim Rohn

Above: A scene found along the Blue Ridge Parkway outside of Blowing Rock, NC.