Enjoy the Colorful Photographic Impressions created by Vann Helms
Storm Alberto brought over a foot of rain to most of these mountains in just four days. Creeks and rivers overflowed, and mudslides occurred in many places. Otter Creek, just below my house, rose more than six feet in a matter of hours. I made this short video on Thursday to capture the rage that a normally tranquil stream can muster when angry.
Otter Creek Road after a flash flood passed through…
For the past two seasons, a late March freeze here in the valley has meant that very few Blackberries were being picked in late June. This year is very different. For the past two weeks, the vines have prospered, and nearly a foot of rain over the past five days has ensured that this year, there will be berries for cobblers and for freezing once again.
Blossoms cover entire meadows…
The Ragwort have found a safe place amongst the thorny vines…
Bearded Iris from long ago planted bulbs are appearing in the strangest places…
Wild Dwarf Azalea are in bloom all along Otter Creek…
The White Laurel is always the first to bloom…
And the Pink Laurel is opening right on time…
After temperatures in the high 80’s for the first time this season, late afternoon storms loomed on the western horizon over 3,100 foot Wolf Pen Mountain along the Rutherford and McDowell County line. Thunder was heard in the distance, and the sweet smell of newly cut hay lingered in the heavy air. Buttercups are covering many of the pastures just to the north.
Interstate 40 dives eastward down the mountain from the Eastern Continental Divide. There are no overlooks along the highway, but a quick stop when traffic is light can provide breathtaking views of the mountains where the Catawba River is born, just to the northwest of Old Fort, North Carolina. I went there just after sunrise to experience the textures of the ridges and the thick forests. The vastness of the valley is remarkable.
View toward the southeast….
View toward the South…
Back home again… looking northwest.
When the Dogwood bloom, the mountains are painted in a million shades of green as new leaves push their way out of previously dormant branches. It’s my favorite part of Spring across the Blue Ridge.
Yesterday, heavy clouds hung over the mountains near sunset, and the effect was magical. I’ve never seen it like this before.
All of these views were to the west five miles north of Lake Lure in the northwest Rutherford mountains.
Looking back to the east, Young’s Mountain, at 2,600 feet, was still bare near the summit. Another week will change all of that.
As the front passed this morning, and rain wasn’t far away, I found these Dogwood and Azalea in southern McDowell County along the Rutherford Trace.
Asheville in the Spring can be quite colorful, especially the Gardens at the Biltmore Estate. A leisurely drive west over the Eastern Continental Divide always makes the hour long journey all the more satisfying. Along the way, the mountains are finally greening up…. Large hay fields just add to the beauty.
The Dogwood are two weeks late this year.
The main entrance gate at Biltmore…
The Tulip beds are spectacular this year.
The Azaleas are late this year. I found a few in bloom.
Lavender Phlox and white Daffodils…
This video highlights the drive over the Divide, and the mountain roads over Asheville. It takes you into Biltmore, and lets you experience the Gardens in all their splendor. If you’re viewing this as part of your email, click on the blue headline to go directly to the blog to see the video.
In the northwest corner of Rutherford County, the Escarpment of the Blue Ridge suddenly rises up to 4,000 feet, from a much lower 900 feet around Lake Lure. The elevation change is dramatic, and the lack of development allows for unlimited vistas and unspoiled forests. Yesterday I toured around these little known mountains to see how a late Spring was putting its touches on them. You can judge for yourself.
The main north-south access is Bill’s Creek Road, which follows the original Cherokee trading path, which, when General Griffith Rutherford brought his troops through here in 1776, was renamed the Rutherford Trace. The eastern side of the road looks out over the Carolina Piedmont Plateau, but to the west and north, a long ridge of mountains runs from the South Carolina line to Linville Gorge, thirty miles to the northeast.
Homesteads and cattle pastures are scattered along the valley. In the far distance, above, you can see the Black Mountains, home to Mt. Mitchell and other peaks above 6,000 feet.
Young’s Mountain, at 2,600 feet, dominates the horizon for two miles.
Rumbling Bald, and Mount Shumont, at 4,000 feet, create an impassable wall between here and Asheville to the west.
The view across the Apple Valley Golf Course is always spectacular, but in Spring, the Kwansan Cherry trees add color under the mountains.
Fire red azalea surround the entrance to a cart tunnel on the golf course, with Kwansan Cherry in the background.
The tunnel opens to the east side of the course.
Late 19th century farmhouses are protected by the traditional White Oak trees. Dogwood always find a special place in these historic gardens.
Azaleas have flourished over many generations along Bill’s Creek Road.
Forests of Loblolly Pine fill the valleys in this entire area. It’s the last place you’ll find them as you move west into higher elevations.
Pastoral meadows and ponds abound under these pine forests.
The Kwansan Cherry groves are the most impressive of all.
Oak Mountain is the last peak at the north end of Bill’s Creek Road. The Redbud are is full bloom this week.
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