Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Have Been To the Mountain Top ... Literally

I decided to take the scenic tour on the way home from Crabtree Falls. I was in no particular hurry ans was interested in the colors at the various elevations, I stopped at every overlook on the way as I wandered back down the BRP toward Asheville.

The Crabtree Falls parking lot is around 3800 ft elevation, and the colors there are mostly shades of green with substantial amounts of yellow, and a bit of orange. The trip south was a steady climb. The increase in elevation produced a noticeable change in the amount of green that had 'gone over' to the yellow and orange side.

The farther south I got the worse the cloud cover got. By the time I got to the visitor center at Craggy Gardens the sky has lost all the blue and was a pasty dull white mix with a few rainy clouds mixed in ... definitely bad for pictures, but I was on a fact finding mission, not a picture taking trip.

The picture at the left was take from across the road from the Craggy Garden visitor center, looking northeast, back toward the Craggy Garden tunnel. Plenty of yellows and greens with a few orange spots thrown in.

I continued south, stopping at all of the overlooks to survey the color. I made the hard right on Mt Mitchell road and started the climb. About halfway up the smell of the balsam trees started wafting in through the open windows. Wow, what a fantastic smell. I could breath that stuff forever. I'm not sure but peak color may have already come and gone at the top of the mountain, there's was lots of yellow, some of that turning brown, plenty of orange, and more red than I'd seen anywhere else.

I drove to the parking lot at the top of the mountain and walked up to the overlook. I'm now at the highest mountain peak east of the Mississippi (the sign said so). By now the clouds were rolling pretty good and the wind was whipping up. I knew didn't have much time before the mountain would be totally socked in. 

So, to prove I was there, I snapped a cell-phone pic of my GPS reading 6721 of elevation (nerdy fer sure, and yes, the GPS was off by about 40 ft), and I snapped the picture to the right of the clump of trees at the bottom of the overlook ... it was the only thing up there that wasn't covered in people. By the time I got back to the truck the clouds had rolled in and visibility was down to 100's of feet.

So it was time to head home through Asheville with the obligatory stop at Louella's for a pork BBQ sandwich to go ...

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