Torrential Rain along the Blue Ridge

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.

 

road 4Otter Creek Road after a flash flood passed through…

Blackberries and Mountain Laurel

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.

berry 2Blossoms cover entire meadows…

berry 1

yellow 1The Ragwort have found a safe place amongst the thorny vines…

iris 1Bearded Iris from long ago planted bulbs are appearing in the strangest places…

azaleas 2Wild Dwarf Azalea are in bloom all along Otter Creek…

Laurel 3The White Laurel is always the first to bloom…

laurel 2And the Pink Laurel is opening right on time…

laurel 1

 

 

 

Wolf Pen Mountain at Sunset

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.

sunset 1

Along the Eastern Continental Divide

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.

blue ridge 2View toward the southeast….

Blue Ridge 1View toward the South…

deck green 2Back home again… looking northwest.

 

 

Dogwood, Azalea, and Green Mountains

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.

west view 6

All of these views were to the west five miles north of Lake Lure in the northwest Rutherford mountains.

west view 9

west view 9a

west view 8

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.

east view 1

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.

pink 4

pink 5

pink 8

Pink 1

pink 2

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To Asheville over the Continental Divide

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….Hay Meadow Large hay fields just add to the beauty.

Three DogwoodThe Dogwood are two weeks late this year.

Biltmore GateThe main entrance gate at Biltmore…

Tower dogwood close

tulip paradeThe Tulip beds are spectacular this year.

tulip azaleaThe Azaleas are late this year. I found a few in bloom.

lavendar phloxLavender 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.

 

Rutherford Mountains Welcome Spring

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.

bills creek farmHomesteads 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.

youngs mtnYoung’s Mountain, at 2,600 feet, dominates the horizon for two miles.

runbling baldRumbling Bald, and Mount Shumont, at 4,000 feet, create an impassable wall between here and Asheville to the west.

panoramaThe view across the Apple Valley Golf Course is always spectacular, but in Spring, the Kwansan Cherry trees add color under the mountains.

azalea hillFire red azalea surround the entrance to a cart tunnel on the golf course, with Kwansan Cherry in the background.

tunnelThe tunnel opens to the east side of the course.

buffalo creek houseLate 19th century farmhouses are protected by the traditional White Oak trees. Dogwood always find a special place in these historic gardens.

azalea yardAzaleas have flourished over many generations along Bill’s Creek Road.

dogwood ridgeForests 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.

dogwood pondPastoral meadows and ponds abound under these pine forests.

Kwansan cherryThe Kwansan Cherry groves are the most impressive of all.

Pink MountainOak Mountain is the last peak at the north end of Bill’s Creek Road. The Redbud are is full bloom this week.