Enjoy the Colorful Photographic Impressions made by Vann Helms
At the far north end of Lake Lure is Rumbling Bald Resort, and the centerpiece of the popular destination is the golf course. With spring suddenly arriving last week, it was the perfect time to get back out onto the links.
The Canada Geese had the same idea…
It was 78 degrees today around an almost full Lake Lure. After six days of mild temperatures, Spring is here, and it has happened in just a few days.
From a high ridge on the east side of the lake, Hickory Nut Gorge stretches toward Bearwallow Mountain on the western horizon. Hard to believe that all of this was covered in snow just seventeen days ago, and that the coldest temperature in ten years was recorded just three weeks ago.
Even before any signs of the approaching Spring are visible in Otter Creek Valley, the colors of the winter forest are as bright and electric as any other time of the year.
Roan Horsetop Mountain catches the rays of the rising sun.
A distant Mount Shumont at Lake Lure still dominates this winter sunrise, with Dick’s Mountain on the left.
Below is a 15 second video that shows Hunter and Buddy oblivious to the striking beauty all around them.
Lake Lure is called the world’s most beautiful manmade lake, and it sure lived up to its reputation yesterday at sunset. With no wind, the water was like a mirror, and a mist clung to the surface like the vapor of dry ice. Recent rain left behind low clouds that hugged the mountains. Over the past week, the dam has been almost closed so that the lake can refill after being lowered last November by almost six feet to allow for dock and seawall repairs, and dredging of mud and silt at the Rumbling Bald Resort on the far north end. Within a week, the rowing crews from many northeastern colleges will arrive for their spring training.
Otter Creek wends its way from deep in the forest below Roan Horsetop Mountain, to where it eventually flows into Cove Creek, a course of about four miles. As it passes below my house, it makes a sudden right turn, and heads under Otter Creek Road through double culverts placed there decades ago. Before it gets to those crushed and flattened metal pipes, it passes along a rock wall that has been carved for millenia by countless flash floods.
Sandbars form and reform as the water makes the turn…
The wall of the gorge rises thirty feet to the top of the ridge. Ancient layers of rock are made visible as the creek works its sculpting magic. Rhododendron covers most of the hillside, shielded from below zero temperatures by the moving water below.
Looking like a giant green bullfrog, this boulder tumbled down the wall eons ago, making the perfect home for mosses and leichens that want to be near the warmer water in winter. Ferns thrive just above the water line, even in the dead of winter. These mountain creeks often create their own micro climate zones, sheltering plants and critters from the harsh extremes of weather.
About a quarter mile west up the creek, another sharp bend carves a steep fifteen foot cliff. During heavy rains, the creek will rise six feet, rushing over Otter Creek Road, leaving large logs and small boulders strewn in the woods along the creek’s banks. Rushing water is a very powerful thing.
Two more remarkable houses were both constructed in Shelby, North Carolina, in the same year, 1875. Because Cleveland County, where Shelby is the county seat, was the cotton capital of the Carolinas, the barons that owned the largest mills built the most elaborate homes.
This Second Empire style home was built by the owner of the largest bank in Shelby, and was successively owned by the city’s wealthiest bankers. It became know as The Banker’s House, and is still a private home to this day. Years ago, the property was given to Preservation North Carolina, who continues to manage the property today. Occasionally, the house is opened for tours. It is made from yellow stuccoed brick, and features hand painted roof tiles.
This impressive frivolity was constructed in 1875 as a traditional Georgian house, but when new owners bought the house in 1907, they added the monumental portico in the neoclassical style, with ornate Corinthian columns. Today the house is known as the James Heyward Hull House, and is suffering from neglect. Even with flaking paint and rotting ornamentation, the house still stops passersby in their tracks.
On Wednesday and Thursday, February 25th and 26th, five inches of wonderful snow fell in Otter Creek Valley.
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