Is this Heaven? No, it’s Spring in the High Country!
Sorry, Shoeless Joe and Dyersville, Iowa with your Field of Dreams. Yes, your summer with its acres of corn tassels blowing in the wind is an awesome sight but how about the other three seasons – Almost Winter, Real Winter and Still Winter? Perhaps you need to visit North Carolina in the springtime to see the real heaven on earth.
My recent posts have detailed my travels to the edge of the world but ultimately there is no place like home. Thus, my next several postings will focus on spring in the mountains of North Carolina. That’s a pretty good chunk of land so I’ll start with Blowing Rock and its immediate vicinity (a 3-4 mile radius). What makes Blowing Rock so picturesque? Is it Downtown and it’s numerous shoppes, beautiful parks and walkways? Or its location on the Eastern Continental Divide with steep overlooks to the east and south into the Foothills far below? Picturesque Bass Lake? Beautiful museums like the Moses Cone Mansion and BRAHM? Close proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway? A few images and I’ll let you decide why Blowing Rock was voted the “prettiest town in North Carolina.”
Downtown Blowing Rock – Two historic stone churches, Rumple Memorial Presbyterian (celebrating its 100th year anniversary and St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal (built in 1918) lie on opposite sides at the south end of Main Street in downtown Blowing Rock. I’m not sure if there is friendly groundskeeping competition between the two churches but both deserve honors and accolades.
Broyhill Park, located approximately one block from Main Street, is also special in the springtime with its wildflowers and numerous ducks and geese. There is an easy trail around the lake and for those ambitious hikers, a much more difficult 1.6 mile trail leads down to Glen Burney and Glen Marie Falls (just remember, it’s a steep climb back).
The Blowing Rock Country Club is located on the south end of Blowing Rock on Highway 321 just before it starts it ten mile descent into the foothills. Again, springtime is a special time at the Country Club with the bloom of rhododendrons and other wildflowers.
Bass Lake is located approximately 0.7 mile from downtown Blowing Rock on Hwy 221 South. There is 0.8 mile hiking trail around the lake with many photographic opportunities especially in spring – ducks and geese with their newly hatched swimming machines, beavers and their dam, water lilies, rhododendrons, fog and reflections. Every hike around the lake is different as evidenced by this pre-dawn image. Is that two swans a-sleeping or the eyes of the Bass Lake version of the Loch Ness monster lurking below the Moses Cone Mansion? You decide!
Speaking of the Moses H. Cone Manor Manor House – it is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 294) and normally overlooks scenic Bass Lake and the town of Blowing Rock. It’s a great place to catch a sunrise but on this spring morning, the hills around Blowing Rock were islands in the fog that immersed much of the village. Blowing Rock has its fair share of foggy mornings because of its location on the Eastern Continental Divide and the warm thermals rising up the steep elevations from the Foothills and being greeted by the cooler mountain air.
Blowing Rock is unique as it is one of the few villages located directly on the Blue Ridge Parkway. One of the most popular overlooks on the Parkway is Thunder Hill Overlook, located less than a mile outside of town limits. While the prime attraction at this Overlook is the sixty-mile view into the Yadkin River Valley, the north side with its field of blooming rhododendrons also offers an impressive display in the spring. This image was shot on a rainy and foggy afternoon. I had to wait quite a while to capture a vehicle that somewhat matched the color of the rhodos.
The Thunder Hill Overlook is generally a good sunrise location; however, in the late spring to early fall months the sun rises too far to the north and compromises the sunrise from the typical Overlook sunrise. A little wandering on a recent spring morning provided this silhouette of a barbed wire fence with the brilliant high clouds to the east and southeast in the background.
Patagonia and the Atacama Desert – I traveled over 16K miles to capture their beauty and glory. Blowing Rock – all were less than five miles from home! Also for my Iowa friends, I’ve got some great Eastern Iowa Real Winter images that were shot at -14F. Perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best, “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
Stayed tuned for more High Country spring images in my next post. Until then, enjoy life and happy shooting!