The Catawba rhododendron didn’t do well in terms of showy flowers this year and put out more growth in the foliage, likely due to an extended and awfully cold winter this year… the flame azalea, however, apparently didn’t get that message. Here at Engine Gap in the Roan Highlands, flame azalea of several types and colors were blooming like gangbusters.
I got a late start heading up here on this Friday with friend Paul McKenna, intending a sunset shot from Jane Bald, but that thunderstorm some 20 miles away held my interest until the sun had set well behind Roan Mountain. Much of the background, apart from the very top of high Grassy Ridge Bald to the far left, is in shade, which makes that storm stand out. It’s reaching up as thunderstorms are prone to do and is probably 20,000-25,000 feet up at the top at this moment and still going up.
It was pitch dark when we got back to the car at Carver’s Gap… as we exited the last of the switchbacks down through the balsam woods near the parking lot, we encountered a couple of fathers leading some reluctant boys up into the spooky dark woods… they were apparently going to camp up there. I came within a breath of saying “Look out for the flying monkeys!” Two things kept me from doing it: first, I’m not sure they would have understood the reference (do you?). Second, the dads had their hands full just trying to keep the group putting one foot in front of the other… and you’ve got to appreciate a dad going through such hoops to open the world of wonder to their kids. The last thing they needed was somebody scaring the bejeebers out of them... even so, there must be flying monkeys in there somewhere.
At a quarter of 10:00 pm, we were back to Newland and laughing, as they roll the sidewalks up in that area at that time, even at McDonald’s. We found sandwiches at the local Ingle’s Grocery, so we didn’t go to bed hungry that night at the Parkview Lodge in Linville Falls.
This image is a composite of five vertical images stitched seamlessly together using Photoshop CC 2018. The original is greatly detailed with an output size of 60”x24”.