I took advantage of one of the few wet and overcast days I had in the mountains this fall to photograph some interesting falling water throughout the Pisgah Forest. It's high enough here at Second Falls that what you may perceive as fog in this image is actually clouds... which made for some interesting hiking through here. Second Falls is located in an area called Graveyard Fields. While that name may seem a bit gruesome, its roots have nothing to do with the funereal. One theory holds that many years ago a tremendous windstorm uprooted the spruce forest, leaving behind stumps that gave the area the appearance of a graveyard. Another speculation is that logging in the early 20th century left tree stumps resembling gravestones. In 1925, fires swept through the area, destroying the stumps and scorching the soil enough to render it sterile. The forest has been slow in recovering, leaving beautiful fields that are now open for wilderness camping.
On this day, however, the park service had cancelled all camping permits at Graveyard Fields because of an increase of bear activity. I had never seen that to happen in all my years here. So, you might think that hiking through here might be a little iffy too, though there was nothing to worry about. If I had encountered a bear, it likely would have been on the run with bear hounds hot behind it... bear hunters were the only other ones in the parking lot, keeping watch on their dogs.
The pool at the bottom of the falls has accumulated boulders, leaving that pool at so many levels that cascade off in so many directions... that's kind of how I feel at this time of year, with so much to be done before Christmas and the end of the year, as well. But that's the way it has always been, and I feel I'm not alone in that. I've learned to thrive in stressful times throughout the years. How are you doing? I hope you're doing quite well, and if I don't hear from you beforehand, find some joy in this Christmas season!
Second Falls can be seen from a distance right off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 418.5
This was taken the day of my encounter with the camera club… that’s explained in detail on my image “Sunrise Over Courthouse Valley” several posts back. The gist of it is that they were in deep discussion as to their course of action because it was overcast, ruining their chances of a decent sunrise. My frame of mind is lemons to lemonade. I, too, headed for the high regions of the Blue Ridge Parkway with the realization it might not work for sunrise… nearby Second Falls worked out perfectly, however.
Here, the autumn foliage around the falls is as brilliant as it can be… who needs a sunrise? I shot this a short distance downstream from the falls where the jumble of boulders dominate the bottom of the image. As does electrical current, water current follows the path of the least resistance. There is no placid pool here… rather, the resistance these rocks offer sets up a myriad of smaller waterfalls along this drop.
One thing that stands out to me in this is the large boulder in the foreground. The full print size for this image is 24”x36” at 300 DPI… you can see incredible detail in that rock of not just the variation in color, but also of the moss and lichen evident on it. That rock is in a constantly wet environment, so there’s a lot living on it. The single red oak leaf (no, I didn’t put it there!) is also quite detailed and adds a sense of scale. It’s nice to go out with a thing in mind for the camera, and nature just works for you… I hope the “camera club” fared as well.
For those who do not know, Second Falls can be seen from the parkway at Milepost 418.5. Just south of there is the Graveyard Fields Overlook... you can hike down to the falls from there.
Hit the "L" key to see this better. It was the last day for me in the Pisgah region of the mountains of North Carolina. I had been by myself this week, but I was to meet Joyce and others for the coming week 100 miles away in Newland, between Linville Gorge, Grandfather Mountain, and the Roan Highlands.
As I checked out of the Pisgah Inn, the staff apologized to me as to the "sorry condition of the weather"... the area was socked in with fog (clouds, actually, at this elevation) and rain. I thanked them and let them know that the conditions on the Blue Ridge Parkway were just right for me.
Not long afterward, I found myself to be the only one at Graveyard Fields... rain had kept others at bay. After a short descent, I found this intimate perch underneath a maple tree at Second Falls... conditions lit up the autumn color in a grand way, and I didn’t have to fight anyone for it or jockey for position. I just had to relax and take it in.
My life has been somewhat of a whirlwind over the last year. There had been much to plan for and much more to do. There have been times when I felt like I was in way too deep... like a drowning man, I just needed some air. There’s still much to do, yet there are those things that keep me grounded... and encouraged to go forward.
The familiarity and beauty of these mountains refreshes me as though I’m coming up to breathe after so long... it slows me down so I can hear God speak of the blessings and mercies He’s freely given me... including the blessing to just be here. I pray those blessings for you, too. You'll have to get your own mercies, though... just kidding! It's a package deal that comes wrapped up in joy... go for it!
I’m up early in the morning, and ascending the trail to Rough Ridge, long before sunrise... come up with me!