|Mountain Red Head|
Hurricane Matthew made landfall late in the week, and started to severely affect the weather patterns in NC, clear out to the mountains. Ironically though, I was looking forward to the freaky weather, and was ready to embrace it come Saturday morning. I woke up early...about 3:45am so that I could get out to the Parkway in time for a sunrise. My plan was to head out to Rough Ridge, and work a slightly different angle than I had previously for a sunrise. I figured that getting there long before sunrise would cement me a solo visit to the trails.
|Rough Around the Edges|
They got a head start on the trails since I was still getting things ready at the truck. I could keep track of their progress from their talking. It is amazing how far a voice carries in the mountains in the early morning hours! As I made my way along the trail, I could hear that they were still moving, so all was well. It was when they stopped going forward that I got a little worried. It sounded like they had paused on the boardwalk. Great....now I was going to have to listen to them while I was trying to internalize the atmosphere. Well, it was worse than that...they were now sprawled out on the precipice that I was planning on setting up on. They had bags to sit on since it was raining lightly, so it did not appear that they were going anywhere anytime soon.
I had to make alternative plans for sunrise. That was ok I suppose, since the clouds were pretty thick and I didn't really see much chance of morning color like I had hoped for. I continued on though the trail in search of another vantage point I could take advantage of. I found what I was looking for in a jagged rock outcropping. I could photograph it three different ways, just in case the sun decided to light up the sky. Of course, that didn't happen, so I climbed up on another outcropping and set the camera up, pointing Southeast. The elevation allowed me to exclude the sky for the most part, and use the distant terrain as my backdrop. Exposure was a little tricky with the extremely dim, and cool light. I managed to get it set up without the aid of filters which was great. That allowed me to use my lens hood on my 24-70mm to keep the front element dry in the early morning mist.
When I was done, there were a pair of other hikers that decided to climb up on the outcropping and take their own pictures. They didn't even see me until they had started to climb up on the rock. I think I scared them a little bit. It wasn't long and they were done. The sky was making it so that I was done as well. From here I continued hiking along the trail to see what else I could find. My hopes were not high as there was very little detail in the early morning sky, and the wind was a little high to worry about photographing intimate landscapes within the trails.
|A Golden Crown|
|Rough Ridge Fall|
|A Secret Path|
As I was leaving, I stopped to photograph the foot bridge, but really didn't find anything significantly different than what I had done before. Since the leaves hadn't really changed at this point, I decided to trash the pictures from that location. I did meet another photographer while I was working on some of the compositions. He was also out in search of leaves, and like me, was a little disappointed in the lack of color along Rough Ridge. With the altitude, this is usually one of the first places to change in this section of the Parkway. He did let me know that Linville had a good many trees that had already changed. With that information, the Linville Gorge turned into my next destination.
|A Steady Stream|
I decided to go on a little hike at Linville Falls. It has been a long time since I've been here, and with the cloud cover, it was a good day to work waterfalls. Apparently, I wasn't the only one with that idea though. The parking lot was nearly full, and there were people milling around as far as my eyes could see. To avoid the crowds, I decided to go down the self guided nature trail to see Dugger's Creek Falls. This is a favorite of mine, and I was hoping to find it with good water flow today.
The hike was uneventful and I didn't see any other hikers which was great. I went ahead and dropped beneath the bridge, and started standing in the water which I have become quite good at over the years of doing waterfall photography. I already knew that I was going to need the reach of my 70-200mm lens due to the layout of the cavern the falls are in.
|Dugger's Creek Falls|
I played with Dugger's Creek Falls for about 30 minutes or so before I packed it all up and started back out to the main trails. I wasn't looking forward to being in with so many other people, but I wanted to do more waterfalls since it seems like forever ago that I photographed one. I was also hoping that I was going to find some nice fall color along the way as well.
I followed the first trail that I came to, knowing that it would take me to the upper falls, and three different viewing platforms of the Linville Falls. I wasn't overly interested in getting the big waterfall today because I knew that everyone and their mother would be out to do just that. In turn, I decided to check out the Upper Falls. It has been many years since I have been here to photograph the pair of cascades, and the subsequent rapids that flow to the main falls.
|With a Quickness|
|Froth and Foliage|
After working the twin falls for a second time, I realized that I had gotten the goody out of this location. The fact that there were now about 50 people on the viewing deck, it was time to go. I thought about heading up to the other viewing platforms, but decided against it. I had seen the first two platforms while I was at the upper falls. Both appeared to be full of people on a rotating basis. This was not something that I wanted to get involved with at all. The decision was made to pack it in, and head on down the Parkway to see what else I could find.
|Summer Says Goodbye|
Well, my next stop was just a few miles down the road and around the corner. Had I not been looking in my mirrors, I would have missed it, as I have many times in the past. Tucked over a hill, well off the side of the road, I saw some bleached wooden walls of what could only be a barn. I stopped, and backed the truck up, pulling it off of the road. I got out and went over to the barn to see what it looked like. It was fenced off unfortunately, but I was able to previsualize a couple of compositions that could use the fence. I walked back to the truck and got the camera out....just in time for the rain to start.
At this point, I was closer to I-40 than getting back on US-421, so I worked my way onto I-40. I knew that I was going to be going by the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge, and decided that it would make sense to go there on my way home. You see, I have a friend that has been after me to get a picture of it for quite some time. I was going to have good light, and the time, so why not?
The bridge was not far off of the highway, so it took nothing at all to find. When I got there, I was a little disappointed in its condition though. There had been a great deal of vandalism to this bridge, and the spray paint detracted from the look of this historical landmark. I almost bypassed the shoot, but decided that I would go ahead give it a shot so that I could say that I have.
|Bunker Hill Covered Bridge|
With that, I'm going to end this blog entry and hope that it makes sense. My mind wandered more than once, and I caught myself typing things that I said my dreams...that I had while typing. Yeah, I'm that kind of tired.