Linville Gorge in Early Spring
Visiting Linville Gorge in spring is especially rewarding because the summer crowds are still months away, and you can have the whole place to yourself. The first week in April is still very winter like, and morning lows can still be in the 20’s, but the first greens are already creeping up the walls of this “Grand Canyon on the East”. Wiseman’s View, above, is the most accessible place to really appreciate the awesome grandeur of this ancient place, especially the distant roar of the Linville River 1,500 feet below. No climbing or long hikes are required to get there, and the reward is breathtaking.
The southern boundary of the gorge, above, is marked by Shortoff Mountain, a flat topped mesa that has many rock climbing possibilities. The tender green leaves of the hardwoods were just beginning to burst forth after a particularly cold winter.
To the east are two of the most prominent geologic features, Hawksbill Mountain to the left, and Table Rock to the right. The blue ridges in the middle are the famous Brown Mountains, where mysterious lights appear during the night, floating above the forest, with no known origin.
The Table Mountain Pine proliferates along these rocky cliffs, clinging to cracks in the granite, and growing very slowly in this harsh environment.
Looking north along the west face, millenia of rain and ice have sculpted craggy cliffs, making the river below totally inaccessible from these menacing promontories.
Tim’s dad, Ted, would be even more surprised if he knew that nothing was supporting the rock he was holding onto.
Hawksbill Mountain has a distinctive profile that gives it its name.
Father and son celebrate this glorious place while Table Rock lurks on the horizon.
Driving back home on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the sky was alive with sunset color as I exited onto U.S. 226 for the dive down the mountain toward Marion, N.C.