Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Unaka Mountain Road

One thing that we really enjoyed on the stay at Rock Creek was driving the Unaka Mountain Road. I wouldn't suggest it with a regular car, but if you have a high clearance truck and/or four-wheel drive, then you should really enjoy it. The road climbs quite high--at or above 4800 feet, not too terribly far below the summit of Unaka Mountain. Plus, you have access to some great hiking trails, waterfalls, and overlooks.

The first day we got there the weather was great and the views were exceptional. Then a front came through and the next day we drove the road everything was quite wet and the views were limited, at best. Still, the forests and fields have their own special charms at such times, and we found them.

This place is called "The Beauty Spot". It's a classic southern Appalachian bald and the AT runs right through it. The treeless area makes for some fantastic views.

The heights of Unaka Mountain from the field known as The Beauty Spot. You can see a marker for the Appalachian Trail standing in the tall grass.

When the long distance views are denied you, look closer at hand.

Bumblebee sipping nectar.

Very pretty blossom at a high overlook.

Nice flowers were just about everywhere we looked.

At this overlook Carole heard a noise and pointed, yelling for me to look down near my feet. I'd failed to hear what she had so clearly heard--the buzzing of a rattlesnake! Fortunately, he wanted nothing to do with us and was retreating. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a photo of him before he (or she) crawled beneath a rock wall at the overlook. It was quite fat and healthy.

We kept running in to rhododendron blossoms hanging on here and there.

This was the trailhead for the Rattlesnake Ridge Trail.

A misty stream made even more soggy by relentless rain.

This ruffed grouse walked around in front of us, pretending to be injured until her chicks were safe and sound off the road. As soon as they were, she flew up into the brush and away, her job completed!


MarkGelbart said...

Those are some nice photographs.

You saw a rattlesnake on rattlesnake ridge. I guess it's aptly named.

I've never seen a rugged grouse. Coincidentally, it's the subject of my next blog entry which'll probably be next Monday.

HemlockMan said...

That's "ruffed" grouse.

I wish I'd seen the rattlesnake before my wife did. By the time I saw it the snake was already halfway under a ledge. What I did see of it was very dark (I figure a rattlesnake living at close to 4800 feet above sea level that far north would need dark coloring to absorb as much heat as possible), and it was a very fat snake. In addition, it didn't have many rattles, despite being a big snake, so I suppose some rattles had broken off, which I know they will do from time to time. Thus the very minor buzz it was generating.