Mountain Trip – June 2014

June 18, 2014 – Another trip through Linville Gorge. Got to the campsite at the bend just before a huge thunderstorm rolled past.  You could see the thunderstorms building as I headed up the ridge from I-40. Now I’m just waiting for the charcoal to get going so I can put the pork chops on.  I decided to grill each night that I’m Jeep camping – we’ll see how it goes.

I plan on driving up to a spot before Wiseman View on the right where the trees are cleared and see if the sunset will shot.  Tomorrow the plan is to hike to the bottom of Linville Falls.

June 19, 2014 – Tried to shoot the sunrise at Wiseman View.  I took a couple of shots, but no clouds or good color.  I went back to the campsite to see the sun rise over Hawksbill Mtn, but the sun comes up farther to the north this time of year.  I should have checked the Photographers Ephemeris before I came.

I hiked to the bottom of Linville Falls.  It’s not too bad of a hike.  15-20 minutes to the bottom.  A lot of rocky spots to scramble through though.  I met a hippy yoga instructor with a dulcimer.  Her name was Ann Marie.  She said that the good light is ~8am this time of year.  She also said to order the trout BLT at Little Switzerland.

I took a few shots of the falls from the shore on the right side of the falls.  I also climbed up to on a large boulder in the middle of the river and checked the angle from there.  I plan to go back down with the Hassy 1st thing in the morning.  I also “hiked” to a small falls on a creek near the visitor center.

I drove up the road to Roan Mountain State Park – it took about an hour or so from Linville Falls area.  I hiked the trail to Roan High Knob.  The trail head is at the back and it’s only a 1/2 mile to the lookout point.  It was too hazy for photos, but I got some good cloud shots if they turn out.  I was using the circular polarizer to get some dramatic skies.  I also tried some shots of a pretty fern.  Then I hiked through the Rhododendron Gardens & found placed to shoot tomorrow.

June 20, 2014 – It’s a very windy night on Mt. Mitchell.  It’s almost as bad as the night that April and I spent camping on Blood Mtn.  I had to cook in a hurry again because of thunderstorms.  I still haven’t been hit with one yet.

I had breakfast at Famous Louis Rock House.  Not bad – got some strawberry peach jelly for April.  I hope it makes it home without spoiling.  Got to the base of Linville Falls about 8:15.

I took off my shoes and waded across to climb a boulder in the middle of the river.  The light moves from left to right as the sun rises.  I used a split ND filter to try and even it out the best that I could.  I hope the pictures turn out.

I climbed back out and shot a nice little waterfall in a creek (can’t remember the name).  Had to set up in the middle with flip flops.  I never could get much light to work with because it was too overcast.  This was around 9:30am.

I pulled the tops on the Jeep and drove to Roan Mtn without any problems.  I ate lunch at a picnic table surrounded by Rhododendron.  It was pretty cool.  I met a couple who showed me what a Jack in the Pulpit is.  I got a few good shots of flowers & worked on some closeups.  I went back through Linville Falls to get on the parkway & found a place not far from Linville Falls that should be a great spot for sunsets in the future.

I ate lunch at Little Switzerland.  It’s a nice place that we may want to stay sometime.  I had a burger and a Fat Tire.

Mt. Mitchell is really small for a campsite.  They have a restaurant and everything but only 9 tent sites.  All of them are up a big hill from the parking lot.  You have to carry everything and alcohol is not allowed.

The view from the top is amazing.  Probably not good for pictures though – nothing to base a composition on unless there is some kind of amazing light or low clouds.  I found a good place to shoot the sunset from the restaurant parking lot.  I may try to shoot the sunrise in the morning if I don’t blow away!

June 21, 2014 – I got up at 5:30, but it was too foggy to get any good shots of the sunrise.  I waited for the park gate to open at 7am and then I was on my way.  I went south on the BRP to Ashville & ran across Chris Strong shooting at a turnout.  He’s from Opelika.

Had to fight traffic in Cades Cove again, but made it to the trail head.  The campsite at the top of Gregory Bald is closed due to bear activity.  I hiked the 2 miles to campsite 12 in 40 minutes and set up camp.  There are already several people there from Carmax.  Frank, Don, Justin, and Stefan.

I went back to get my photo backpack and got soaked on the way back to the camp.  I set things out to dry and took a long nap until the rain stopped.  It was too late to climb Gregory Bald.  Good night and conversation with the guys around a campfire.

June 22, 2014 – Up at 5am, cooked breakfast and started up to Gregory Bald at 6am.  3 1/2 miles straight up.  2500 feet of elevation gained from campsite #12 to the top.  I stopped every 15 minutes to rest.

I got to the bald and got some shots of hybrid azaleas.  It was really foggy at first, then the clouds started blowing out and you could catch glimpses of the view.  It was really tough to get good shots of it though.

This may be my 2nd favorite spot behind Yosemite to be with a camera.  I shot for 2 1/2 hours before heading back.  Total for the day was 13 miles and 6500 feet elevation change.  Took Parson’s Branch Road (bad idea) out of Cades Cove and headed home.

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