Enjoy the Colorful Photographic Impressions created by Vann Helms
After two weeks of burning, the fire on Rumbling Bald Mountain over Lake Lure appears to have moved north and west. Visiting the area at sunset yesterday found smoke in the air, but no visible smoke rising from the mountain.Rumbling Bald and Mount Shumont behind the Apple Valley Golf Club at the north end of Lake Lure. A week ago, these slopes were not visible from this vantage point.
Maples around the golf course.
Rumbling Bald and Mt. Shumont as seen from the eastern shore of the lake.Fire had moved to the slopes of Round Mountain to the far right.
From the far south end of the lake, smoke is visible on the far north horizon.
Colors around the lake peak in the middle of November…
Larkin’s Restaurant and Bayside Bar and Grill are open for business. This is the only restaurant located directly on Lake Lure.
The middle of November has always found the most intense color here in Otter Creek Valley. This season, a record drought has delayed the event, and muted the yellows and oranges, and nearby wildfires have cast a pall across all of these Mountains. A blanket of smoke has robbed the senses of the usual appreciation of this most beautiful time of year. But nature is fickled, and can surprise even the most disheartened observer.
After sunrise this morning, sub-freezing temperatures and a favorable northerly breeze swept all of the smoke and irritating odors completely away, at least for a little while, and allowed the vibrant hues to return.
Smoke was visible on the southwest horizon, but kept its distance for awhile.
As happens most days since the fires started, the winds shift, and the smoke returns, and at sunset, a haze once again cloaked the ridges. I took advantage of the dimming sun and went further up the valley in search of the illusive “peak” of color, and there it was, much as I remembered it.
The yellows weren’t bright like in years past, and the vermilion Maples were more maroon this year, but the overall effect was still breathtaking.
Looking to the west, the smoke was thicker, but the way it diffused the light created this ethereal scene around Roan Horsetop Mountain.
Take a couple of minutes to watch this video so you can get the full dimensional view of the Mountains and trees.
Saturday evening, a wildfire broke out along the high rocky slopes of Rumbling Bald Mountain facing Lake Lure. Although no homes were threatened at the time, an all out battle to contain and extinguish the blaze was mounted, and helicopters ferried large containers of water from Lake Lure 2,000 feet below to dampen the inaccessible area. Backfires were started to keep the flames from moving down the mountain. By Tuesday morning, a temperature inversion, combined with no wind, held the smoke over the area in a twenty mile circle, causing stinging eyes and respiration problems. These images from Tuesday afternoon will give you a feeling of what it was like.
Yacht Club Island sits out in the lake, where it is usually framed by majestic Rumbling Bald Mountain, below.
On better days, Sugarloaf Mountain dominates the western view from high above the lake.
But on this day, it was barely visible through the smoke.
Driving back down to lake level, I found this rustic cabin perched above a giant boulder on a cove near the Lake Lure dam.
Even in the midst of a threatening situation, there is still so much beauty to enjoy.
Sometimes conditions just come together to produce something special. This morning was right at 32 degrees with a light frost on the fields. We went to the top of the ridge above the house, and were treated with this incredible display of nature.
Broomsage Grass covers most of the meadow…
Contrails from Charlotte reminded of the cold air, and the frost was crunchy under my feet.
Turning due north, Brushy Top Mountain really showed her colors with the rising sun…
To the northeast over the rising mist of Otter Pond, Pinnacle Mountain was breathtaking…
Walking north along Carolina Peaks Parkway, the western view toward Wolfpen Mountain captured the essence of this perfect sunrise.
Every year I drive up NC 80 from Marion to the Blue Ridge Parkway, then go west on NC 80 to the Mt. Mitchell Golf Club. This year, the best color was just at 3,000 feet, and the area just below the Parkway was dramatic.
Once on the Parkway, the Overlook toward the east was worth the 2,000 foot climb.
Driving across the Blue Ridge, the golf course below 6,680 foot Mt. Mitchell was a contrast in seasons.
Much has been written about the effect of the drought in the Mountains when it comes to Fall colors. If my visit to Asheville and Black Mountain on October 27th is any indication, the effect will be minimal. What can be affected is the timing of the changes, and my observations seem to support that colors are arriving about a week later than average this year.
I drove through the Sunset Mountain district above The Grove Park Inn, and found breathtaking vistas from every vantage point.
Stopping in Black Mountain on the way home found dark skies from an approaching storm near sunset, which always makes for interesting contrasts.
Less than a mile north of the house, the county line cuts a swath through the Blue Ridge escarpment. These mountains are mostly free from the development of nearby Lake Lure and Chimney Rock. The roads are old and lightly traveled. The ridgeline hovers from 2,500 feet to over 3,000 feet. Black Angus farms and corn fields dot the valley. An approaching cold front filled the sky with occasional clouds, but blue sky was more the norm.
Mountains around Lake Lure dominate the southwest horizon. Mt. Shumont at 4,100 feet is the tallest. Hemphill Road, named for original settlers, winds it’s way through the area.
To the east, the twin peaks of Pinnacle Mountain reach for the low clouds.
To the northwest, Hickorynut Mountain stretches for three miles above the valley…
Tight Run Loop heads down the valley toward Cove Creek.
Very tall Virginia Pines above Ham Creek…
Returning home, Wolf Pen and Bear Gap Mountains are witnesses to the changing colors toward the northwest from my deck.The peak of color is still ten days away in Otter Creek Valley.
Very tall Virginia Pines above Ham Creek
Back at home, Wolf Pen and Bear Gap Mountains a
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