Heavy Snow in Otter Creek Valley

After falling for 14 hours, a record 12″ of heavy snow covered the valley. This was the most snow reported by any area for the January 6th and 7th period. Just lucky I guess. Here are some of my favorite images, followed by a five minute video. It was 10 degrees this morning, and most of the snow is still here.

KODAK Digital Still Camera


KODAK Digital Still Camera




KODAK Digital Still Camera

This is a short video made early Saturday morning while the snow was still falling… Make sure you go directly to the blog to see the video if this is part of your e-mail alert.




























First Snow of the Winter

After just two hours, almost two inches have fallen. I can’t wait until first light in the morning.



Winter Storm Approaches

As the season’s first snow is forecast for Friday and Saturday here in Otter Creek, it seemed appropriate to share some scenes from yesterday’s walk.

deck-viewSunrise from my deck….

creek-otterOtter Creek has returned to pre-drought levels, and the threat of fire is minimized by almost ten inches of rain over the past month.


Tallahassee in Late Autumn

Escaping the fire threat in the North Carolina Mountains, Florida seemed a good place to go. Earlier this week I spent three days in the state capitol, and found Tallahassee quite picturesque.

No tour of this historic Southern city can escape the beauty of Florida State University, founded in 1851, and Westcott Hall and fountain seemed the perfect place to begin.



Towering Loblolly Pine on campus

The Old City Cemetery just a few blocks away had the prettiest Camellia in town.camellia-1

In the area near the State Capitol building, many 19th century homes have been restored, and a walking tour is warranted.


Brokaw-McDougall House  1856-60

The most special place in the county is the iconic Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park on the northeast outskirts of town. Known internationally for its winter display of Camellias and springtime collection of Azaleas, Maclay Gardens is the most popular place in town for weddings.maclay-4

KODAK Digital Still Camera





KODAK Digital Still Camera

Camellia Blossoms 




KODAK Digital Still Camera

Japanese Maple



Lake Hall makes the perfect backdrop for strolling through the gardens.maclay-2



Fire Progress around Lake Lure

After two weeks of burning, the fire on Rumbling Bald Mountain over Lake Lure appears to have moved north and west. Visiting the area at sunset yesterday found smoke in the air, but no visible smoke rising from the mountain.shumont-1Rumbling Bald and Mount Shumont behind the Apple Valley Golf Club at the north end of Lake Lure. A week ago, these slopes were not visible from this vantage point.

KODAK Digital Still CameraMaples around the golf course.

lake-4Rumbling Bald and Mt. Shumont as seen from the eastern shore of the lake.lake-3Fire had moved to the slopes of Round Mountain to the far right.

lake-5From the far south end of the lake, smoke is visible on the far north horizon.

KODAK Digital Still CameraColors around the lake peak in the middle of November…

larkinsLarkin’s Restaurant and Bayside Bar and Grill are open for business. This is the only restaurant located directly on Lake Lure.



Peak Color in Otter Creek Valley

The middle of November has always found the most intense color here in Otter Creek Valley. This season, a record drought has delayed the event, and muted the yellows and oranges, and nearby wildfires have cast a pall across all of these Mountains. A blanket of smoke has robbed the senses of the usual appreciation of this most beautiful time of year. But nature is fickled, and can surprise even the most disheartened observer.

After sunrise this morning, sub-freezing temperatures and a favorable northerly breeze swept all of the smoke and irritating odors completely away, at least for a little while, and allowed the vibrant hues to return.




Smoke was visible on the southwest horizon, but kept its distance for awhile.smoke-1

As happens most days since the fires started, the winds shift, and the smoke returns, and at sunset, a haze once again cloaked the ridges. I took advantage of the dimming sun and went further up the valley in search of the illusive “peak” of color, and there it was, much as I remembered it.

lodges-color-1The yellows weren’t bright like in years past, and the vermilion Maples were more maroon this year, but the overall effect was still breathtaking.KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Looking to the west, the smoke was thicker, but the way it diffused the light created this ethereal scene around Roan Horsetop Mountain.KODAK Digital Still Camera


Take a couple of minutes to watch this video so you can get the full dimensional view of the Mountains and trees.


Rumbling Bald Mountain Fire

Saturday evening, a wildfire broke out along the high rocky slopes of Rumbling Bald Mountain facing Lake Lure. Although no homes were threatened at the time, an all out battle to contain and extinguish the blaze was mounted, and helicopters ferried large containers of water from Lake Lure 2,000 feet below to dampen the inaccessible area. Backfires were started to keep the flames from moving down the mountain. By Tuesday morning, a temperature inversion, combined with no wind, held the smoke over the area in a twenty mile circle, causing stinging eyes and respiration problems. These images from Tuesday afternoon will give you a feeling of what it was like.

yacht-club-islandYacht Club Island sits out in the lake, where it is usually framed by majestic Rumbling Bald Mountain, below.




On better days, Sugarloaf Mountain dominates the western view from high above the lake.Sugarloaf Mountain over Lake Lure 1

But on this day, it was barely visible through the smoke.buzzards-view

Driving back down to lake level, I found this rustic cabin perched above a giant boulder on a cove near the Lake Lure dam.KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still CameraEven in the midst of a threatening situation, there is still so much beauty to enjoy.