Enjoy the Colorful Photographic Impressions created by Vann Helms
Towering over the northwestern shores of Lake Lure, Rumbling Bald Mountain, at 3.020 feet in elevation, is a monolith of granite that is part of the Eastern Blue Ridge Escarpment. Originally called Bald Mountain, everything changed in 1874 when sounds suddenly broke the silence of Hickory Nut Gorge. Thought at the time as an earthquake, geologists have since theorized that the sound came from the collapsing of large caves beneath the mountain. The sounds continued for six months, and finally stopped, but locals began calling the mountain “Rumbling Bald”, because of the unusual phenomena. During the “rumbling” period, mammoth boulders were dislodged from the granite cliffs, and tumbled down along the north face of the mountain. Today, the area is known for the sport of “bouldering”, where adventurous rock climbers use the giant rocks to hone their climbing skills.
Over time, roads were built in the area below the exposed face, and a community of upscale homes was built. A championship golf course was built, and town homes and villas followed. Today the gated community is known as Rumbling Bald Resort, complete with restaurants. a marina, and vacation rentals.
Buffalo Creek flows through the resort, and feeds into the far north end of Lake Lure.
As thunderstorms roll over these mountains almost daily, bringing milder afternoons, and cooler nights, the rolling hills of Biltmore are more green and lush than normal. The Azaleas and Rhododendron have passed. Fall colors are still months away. Even the pre-dawn and twilight calls of the Whippoorwills have stopped. You might think that now is not the time to visit Biltmore, but you would be very wrong. Frederick Law Olmstead’s genius is on display more than ever. His vision of the perfect forest with lakes and ponds has reached its maturity after 125 years. For a limited time, the roadways past the mansion and the gardens and Olmstead’s giant pines, are accessible to the public. These vistas are as breathtaking as ever. If you’ve never been in August, you must go.
George Vanderbilt funded the construction of All Saints Episcopal Church in Biltmore Village, adjacent to the Estate. It stands today as a shining example of American Craftsman architecture.
On top of the world…
Just below the summit of 6,643 foot high Clingman’s Dome in the center of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the parking area for hikers who want to climb the steep trail up to the Observation Tower. Although you are standing on the North Carolina-Tennessee border, the views of the Carolina mountains along the eastern side of that lot are as spectacular as any seen from the tower.
On a low humidity day, the horizon can be 100 miles away. On this late July afternoon, the summer haze didn’t lessen the impact of the distant ridges. It was in the mid 60’s.
Passing clouds often hid the peaks…
Worth seeing again…
Located along the North/South Carolina state line just west of Tryon, Pearson’s Falls is always a treat to visit, but after a good rainstorm, it is especially beautiful.
Just west of Chimney Rock Village at the bottom of Hickory Nut Gorge, the Rocky Broad River tumbles over giant boulders, and creates pools perfect for a summer plunge. With Covid, it was the perfect place to social distance, and for the bravest souls, the cascades made for a refreshing thrill ride.
This short video is the next best thing to being there…
Biltmore Estate in Asheville is slowly returning to normal after a three month closure because of the virus. The Gardens are in full bloom, and the House is once again welcoming guests. The Estate roads have once again welcomed private vehicles after having ended that long loved practice last October for reasons still not very clear. The Garden Shop has reopened for business. Of course, masks are required indoors, and outdoors, when social distancing cannot be maintained. Even the “Downton Abbey” exhibit, which would have ended in April, is being reopened for an extended run.
Mid-June finds the Valley lush and green. The morning was sunny and dry, perfect for a drone session. My cousin brought his high tech “bug” from Charlotte, and here’s what he captured.
My house has the blue roof… This view was toward the northeast.
He flew the drone directly above the house to its maximum altitude, and did a slow 360 degree view of these Northwest Rutherford County mountains.
Where Buncombe County meets Rutherford County along Cedar Creek Road, a series of falls and cascades suddenly tumble down through a narrow gorge along the Blue Ridge Escarpment. You won’t find this place highlighted on any map, and there’s only one narrow entrance right off the pavement where you can enter the upper falls and grotto. From there, the gorge deepens drastically as Cedar Creek makes its way over a mile to the bottom, and the only way in is by knotted rope down the a steep embankment to the creek a hundred feet below the road. You can hear it, but thick vegetation hides the creek completely.
On this June afternoon, the creek was quite active from recent rains, and because of its obscurity, we had the upper grotto completely to ourselves. Here are my impressions of that grotto, followed by a video of the encounter….
The first major falls is twenty feet high…
Above the large falls are a series of smaller falls, and large sheets of granite worn smooth by millenia of floods.
This short video will show the natural beauty of this special place’
On a mild June day with low humidity, it was the perfect time to climb Sunset Mountain to get a clear view of the Asheville skyline from five miles away.
Looking toward the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Clingmans Dome at almost 7,000 feet in elevation.
Tiger Lillies along Sunset Summit Road….
Looking west toward the Tennessee border…
This week traditionally sees the peak blooming of these rare plants in the Catawba River in South Carolina…
Each year, around the end of May, the Catawba River in Chester County, South Carolina, is covered by delicate white flowers of the rare and endangered Rocky Shoals Spider Lilly. Because of hydroelectric daming along most of the river’s course, the habitat for these treasures has been depleted, but these few miles along the York and Chester County stretch are much as they have been for thousands of years. This year the bloom came early, and these photos capture the last of the display.
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