November 8th, 2018

Each autumn, I look forward to that one day when the colors peak here in Otter Creek Valley. Last year it was November 5th, and the year before that, when we had all the fires, it was November 2nd.  This year, it happened on November 8th, and wouldn’t you know, it drizzled rain that day, and the skies were very overcast. For the brightest colors you need a little sunlight. Not this day. I was not deterred.

Buddy, my trusty canine friend, arrived early that morning, and we set out to find color wherever we could. And find it we did. The entire valley has about 350 acres of walkable terrain, and we covered a lot of it. Only five houses have full time occupants, and there are two more cabins that welcome seasonal visitors.  Much more land than people. Our two gravel roads, Otter Creek and Fibber Magee,  both have dead ends. We have no traffic. Fibber becomes paved past my house, thanks to a gated development that went bankrupt in the Great Recession.  That mile and a quarter stretch of pavement winds through the most pristine and untouched land, covered by hardwoods and Loblolly Pine, that you will find anywhere east of the Blue Ridge escarpment. That’s the perfect recipe for vibrant colors accented by evergreens.

Dicks Mountain

The best way to showcase this  natural beauty is with a video set to soothing music, so that’s what I did.  When you want to just relax and forget the everyday interruptions that distract and intrude upon your valuable time, get comfortable, and let November 8th wash over you with the colors of Fall, five miles north of Lake Lure.  If you are one of my regular subscribers, and are reading this in your email, click on the headline above to go directly to the Blog, and the video is there.



Hard Freeze and Heavy Frost

Arriving almost a month late, the first temperatures under 25 degrees brought a heavy coating of Jack Frost throughout the valley.  I’m sure the Cudzu has finally bit the dust. Buddy and I walked to lower Otter Creek, and here are the scenes we found.

Otter PondOtter Pond

Sycamore FrostFrost Sycamore


Frosty corn field

Frosty Buddy

Oak MountainOak Mountain

buddys houseToward Buddy’s House…

corn fieldOver the corn field toward Otter Creek…

Yesterday I went to Black Mountain, and was surprised to see snow atop Mt. mitchell


Amazing Maples near Lake Lure

Lake LureAll varieties of Maple are always the showiest trees in Autumn in the North Carolina mountains. From red, to vermilion, to bright yellow, they never disappoint. Just northeast of the northernmost tip of Lake Lure is Apple Valley Golf Course, and near the entrance to the clubhouse is a row of five large Maples.  Consistently, every year, they produce the most vibrant colors of any trees I have found anywhere in these mountains. I’m especially proud of this set of images from today, November 4th, 2018.

Rumbling Bald 1Rumbling Bald Mountain

Rumbling Bald 2

Two Maples

Yellow Maples

Three Maples 1

Maple Explosion

This short video will give you a sense of three dimensionality.

Colors Peak in Otter Creek Valley

This post is from three years ago this Monday. It’s worth revisiting to remind us of how beautiful this valley can be at it’s peak color.

Living in The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina- A Blog

Otter Creek Color Hillside

For the past six Fall seasons, the colors in the upper part of Otter Creek Valley have peaked on or about November 5th, and this year was no different. After many cloudy, misty days, the Sun broke through this morning just long enough to let me capture the splendor that unfolds here every year. All of these images and the video at the end were made just up the road from my house.

Horsetop Mountain Clouds
Horsetop Mountain is hidden under a cloud bank in this southerly view.

Fibber Magee Curve
My road is unpaved leading to my house, but it was paved higher up the
valley seven years ago when a new gated development opened. The paved
road winds through the valley for almost a mile, ending at a Cul-du-Sac.

Fibber Magee South View
This pristine wilderness still has only one inhabited home. I like to refer to this section of road as my own personal Blue Ridge Parkway…

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Cedar Creek Falls is Resplendent in Fall Colors

A few miles north of Lake Lure, Cedar Creek tumbles down the Blue Ridge Escarpment from Stone Mountain in Buncombe County. As it nears the Piedmont Foothills, it encounters a rock ledge carved over millions of years by water and ice.  Cedar Creek Falls have become a favorite swimming hole in the summer, but as Fall descends along the Blue Ridge,  they explode in red, orange, and yellow splotches that seem to vibrate when viewed against a background of evergreens.


cedar 3

cedar 1

Check out this short viseo of the falls…

Immediately across Cedar Creek Road from the falls is a gated community where planted Maples mix with wild foliage to create an autumn wonderland.fence 1

fence 2

fence 4

fence 6

Late October finds a curious migration of a creature barely  2″ long. A furry caterpillar known in these parts as the “Woolley Worm” , is on the move from it’s hatching grounds along creeks and bogs, in search of a rocky crevice or large dead tree where they can spend the winter, and weave their cocoon. I happened upon this determined traveler as he was attempting to cross the road.Woolley Worm

Legend has it that the ratio of black hair to orange hair can indicate what kind of winter lies ahead.  Even the trusted Farmer’s Almanac will base its predictions on these tiny travelers. There are thirteen segments along its body. Four segments or less of orange means a cold winter ahead. Five or more segments means a milder season. Our little friend here is showing four and a half segments of orange, which means a colder winter than average, but not bitter cold.

In the late Spring, an Isabella Tiger Moth will emerge from its cocoon, and begin laying eggs for a new generation of weather prognosticators.  Here she is in all her glory…isabella_tiger_moth-andyreagochrissymcclarren_full_widthThat is an egg in the lower left.




Autumn Finally Arrives

After the warmest September in years, and more October days in the 80’s, a freeze last Sunday reminded the trees that they had a job to do. Everything will be two weeks late this year, but no one told the Red Maples.

Maple Teal

The western slopes of 3,100 foot Hickory Nut Mountain along the Rutherford, McDowell, Buncombe County lines are awakening with color.Feather Grass at Hickory Nut Mtn

Hickory Nut 2

In Asheville, the Sugar Maples are peaking…Biltmore Park 1

Caddy homeWolfpen Mountain looms on the northwest horizon as a cold front approaches.

Advancing Cold Front Along the Blue Ridge Escarpment at Sunset

As I await the first cold front of the season, I thought it would be nice to look back six years this week as a front moved over Lake Lure

Living in The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina- A Blog

At sunset on October 7th, the first major cold front of the season was passing over the eastern escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Earlier thunderstorms had given way to smaller showers and fast moving clouds. This view is toward Lake Lure from a ridge just southeast of my house.

Turning toward the northwest, Hickory Nut Mountain was dominant over the changing woods. The white dot in the center of the photo marks the direction of my house, which is down in the valley over this ridge.

A twenty minute drive to the western summit of 2,400 foot Youngs Mountain at the north end of Lake Lure was rewarded with this majestic panorama (above).

Looking toward the northwest, the long escarpment ridge had two cigar shaped lenticular clouds hovering above its 3,500 foot peaks.

Turning toward the south, an ominous storm was moving northward through the gorge, dwarfing Rumbling…

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