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.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

be curious

Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly.  
--Arnold Edinborough

Monday, October 20, 2014

brilliant blaze

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.  
--Jack London (1876-1916) American short-story Writer and Novelist.

Above: Early morning shot of Grandfather Mountain from MacRae Meadows.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

rhythms of nature

Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night; and thus he would never know the rhythms that are at the heart of life.
--Hal Borland (1900-1978) American author and journalist.

Above: The Linn Cove Viaduct as seen from Rt. 221 below. The colors were at peak in the area in and around Grandfather Mountain this week. This weekend the leaves were a little past peak in the highest elevations where many trees had already lost their leaves. But as you can see from the shot above, there are still places that could be described as 'peak color.' I've always loved the winding Rt. 221 connecting Blowing Rock to Linville.  

To the left, leaves swirl at the base of a small waterfall found beside the road.