Fall Along the Rutherford-McDowell County Line

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.

shumontMountains 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.

long-mountain-2To the east, the twin peaks of Pinnacle Mountain reach for the low clouds.pinnacle-peak-1

To the northwest, Hickorynut Mountain stretches for three miles above the valley…hickorynut-5


hickorynut-3Tight Run Loop heads down the valley toward Cove Creek.

tall-pinesVery 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.fall-deckThe 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



Lower Catawba Falls (Under Construction)

Hiking the two miles up the gorge to experience the Lower Catawba Falls today, I was struck by the amount of heavy equipment that is being employed to completely remake the old trail and the woods that surround it. Back hoes were lifting large boulders, Bobcats were pushing around dirt, and new metal bridges were resting in the public parking area, awaiting their move up the mountain that would remake the hiking experience.  A new pedestrian bridge over the creek has eliminated the risky crossing that usually meant wet feet, especially after a big rain. All the same, people were there, trudging up the uneven trail, knowing the dramatic reward that awaited at the other end.  

rocksEven before you get to the falls, giant boulders, brought down from the walls of the gorge, clog a side creek that runs into the main stream. 

Even with the sound of bulldozers echoing through the narrow gorge, you know that your efforts will be rewarded if you just keep climbing.  Here are a few images that I captured after climbing the steep cliff alongside the high falls. From this spot, the sound of falling water drowns out the man made competition. There is not one large falls, but a series of small rivulets cascading down a sheer rock and plant covered wall over 150 feet high. It has that “Shangri-La” paradise feeling about it.

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Moss and water plants cover the rocks



catawba-falls-lowerThis is an image that I made three years ago showing the entire falls after more rain.

vann-fallsYours truly in one of his favorite spots…


First Color at Grandfather Mountain

Now that hurricane Matthew has cleared the mountains, it was the perfect morning to go up The Parkway to Linn Cove Viaduct on the eastern slope of iconic Grandfather Mountain. It was 47 degrees with  sustained 50 mph winds  speeding along the Parkway from a wind tunnel created by the shape of the slope.  I could hardly stand up. The colors are running a few days late this year, but are still beautiful.

The Parkway climbs above 4,500 feet in this area…wallTo the east are the Foothills and the Piedmont Plateau.

grandfather-eastThe east face of Grandfather…

grandfather-peakThe peak of Grandfather Mountain.


viaduct-1Linn Cove Viaduct

viaduct-4Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountain to the south.



Autumn Creeps In

As the first week of October is almost in the books, the wildflowers and changing leaves are keeping the woods colorful in Otter Creek Valley, north of Lake Lure.






Narrow Leaf Sunflowers in Fog

As September draws to a close every year, my meadow is filled with a sea of Narrow Leaf Sunflowers, and this year, there are more than ever. Although they are dramatic in bright sun, they take on a different personality in the early morning fog.

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Hemlocks and Sunflowers


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Mille Fleur

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Blue Aster Companions

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Colorado Blue Spruce

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Before Sunrise


dishIn the back meadow…


Mountain Sunsets in Late Summer

There’s just something special about the sunsets in the mountains, and late summer thunderstorms can produce some of the best.

Driving west on Interstate 40 is always memorable, but when the clouds and the Sun come together in just the right way, the effect can be breathtaking.




The Grove Park Inn in Asheville has one of the best panoramic views of the Great Smokies, but when conditions are just right, magic happens…grove-sunset-1

Montford Cove is a farming valley north of Lake Lure, and when eastern thunderstorms catch the setting sun, the colors are magnificent…montford-1



Harvest Moon Over Long Mountain

Finding a spot with an unobstructed eastern view a mile north of the house had me waiting for moonrise. Long Mountain dominates the horizon, and just after sunset, this was the view of Pinnacle Peak on the northern end of the mountain.


The last light turned Long Mountain into a blue cloud…

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Twin Peaks of Long Mountain in Montford Cove

…and within twenty minutes, it appeared…………moon-3

…then the clouds moved in, and the sky looked more like sunrise than moonrise.best-view-2

…but the Harvest Moon had one last appearance to make.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

September 16, 2016

19th century oil by Thomas Worthington Whittredge        “Hunters on a Lake”thomas-worthington-whittredge-hunters-on-a-lake-120226-65958