Enjoy the Colorful Photographic Impressions created by Vann Helms
From a place five miles northeast of Lake Lure, in the westernmost Foothills, the Blue Ridge Escarpment dominates the horizon, from the South Carolina border, running northeast to Interstate 40 near Marion, North Carolina. Along that almost impenetrable wall, only three Gaps allow passage to the west. The southernmost is Hickory Nut Gorge, with Chimney Rock guarding the steep passage, Stone Mountain-Round Mountain Gap, along the Old Fort-Bat Cave Road, and Sugar Hill-Old Fort Road north of 3,100 foot Hickory Nut Mountain.
Tryon Mountain is behind the tree to the far left, with 3,900 foot Sugarloaf Mountain next on the far horizon. Chimney Rock and the Hickory Nut Gorge are behind the big tree, then 4,000 foot Mount Shumont is behind 2,800 foot Young’s Mountain, with the tallest of all, 4,250 foot Little Pisgah Mountain on the far horizon to the right. This lookout is just three miles east of my home in Otter Creek Valley.
Sugarloaf in Polk County…
Shumont and Young’s in Rutherford County…
Cedar Creek Gorge between Stone and Round Mountains in Buncombe County. That’s Little Pisgah on the far horizon, the tallest mountain east of Asheville and South of Black Mountain. Look carefully, and you can spot a home near the summit of Round Mountain. The view east must be spectacular, with Charlotte visible on the horizon.
On this last day of July, the special haze that gives the Blue Ridge its name, was out in full force. Just three hours later, thunder roared over these giants, and a deluge dropped the temperature from a high of 87 degrees, to a chilly 69 degrees. So it is along the Eastern Escarpment.
Located along the Blue Ridge Escarpment just northwest of Marion, North Carolina, this 80 foot high waterfall is one of the least visited falls in Pisgah National Forest. An easy half mile walk gets you to the base, but a more difficult climb gets you to a pool at the top, great for swimming, if you can stand the cold water. Make sure you find the ruins of an old generating station, where a large water wheel once operated. Mica is plentiful in this area, and you can leave with a great souvenir.
Biltmore is always a wonder to visit. The Gardens are especially colorful in July.
A recent addition to the choices offered to visitors of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville is a special “Architect’s Tour”. Not only do you go into rooms that are normally off limits to the regular public, but you also are taken outside onto the walkway of Biltmore’s distinctive roof. You are above the gargoyles, and have panoramic views of the front lawn and gardens. Arriving early, the chateau is a silhouette against the rising sun.
From the normally off limits side loggia, the main staircase tower is resplendent with statues of Joan of Arc and St. George (?). The balconies are actually camouflage for the cantilevered stone stairs that protrude outside of the staircase walls.
Being above the gargoyles gives one an…
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Haven’t seen another Wood Rattler in seven years. That’s fine with me.
Let’s say that you’re in Asheville, North Carolina, and you decide that you would like a dining experience like no other in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Get on the Blue Ridge Parkway and head in the direction of Cherokee, and you’ll experience twenty-five miles of the most spectacular scenery anywhere in North Carolina. You’ll have a leisurely drive with no billboards to obstruct your view, and you’ll pass through seven tunnels as you approach 5,600 foot Mt. Pisgah. Suddenly, giant Douglas Firs will dot the mountainsides, and you’ll think you’re in northern Canada. Brilliant magenta Rhododendron will line the Parkway, and you can stop at any number of scenic Overlooks to take everything in. As you come around a sharp curve at Milepost 408, there it is on your left. You see a rustic two story building nestled amongst the weathered trees and shrubs, so you pull in and find a place to park. Just twenty miles southwest of downtown Asheville, at 5,000 feet, you have found the historic Pisgah Inn, and on a hilltop just past the lodging area, you’ll find an amazing restaurant where you’ll be pearched along a ridge overlooking breathtaking mountains and valleys, and, like the diners who got there before you, you’ll wait for a table along the expansive wall of picture windows, where you’ll be served delicious Southern Cooking by the most attentive team of young people anywhere. You’ll pinch yourself to make sure you aren’t dreaming.
You’re NOT dreaming…
You’ll walk up to one of those windows, and this is what you’ll see……unlimited blue ridges toward Looking Glass Rock, with thousands of acres of dense forests, and even on your left, you’ll see the Parkway as it carves a trail around the next bend.
When you’ve finished your meal, you’ll walk out onto a deck just to take it all in…
You’ll ask someone to take a picture with your friends, just to prove to the folks back home, that you were really here…
Then you’ll visit their incredible gift shop where you’ll find the perfect souvenir.
And if you’re lucky, there will be an empty rocking chair where you can just relax and maybe experience one of the best sunsets you’ll ever see.
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