Thursday, March 08, 2012

Late Winter Snow

After I left Hunt Fish Falls I hopped in my truck and headed for the Blue Ridge Parkway. To do this, I took Forest Service Road 981 which intersects with the Parkway just south of Grandfather Mountain. My original intent was to hike up Grandmother Mountain and bag that peak, but I was stunned to discover that the mountain is now home to a high income vacation home subdivision. Complete with roads to the summit. And some kind of radio/microwave tower. Well, there was another plan shot down.

At any rate, the weather was getting weirder and weirder. Clouds would roll in and snow would come driving down. Then the cloud cover would vanish and it would stop snowing for a couple of minutes, and then the clouds and snow would return. And the wind just kept getting more and more fierce.

Finally, I decided to drive to the short Beacon Heights Trail and hike there. It's only about a half-mile round trip and leads out to some very nice exposed rock with really excellent views, especially of Tanawha (Grandfather Mountain). By the time I parked there the snow was really slamming the ridge but I bundled up in my gloves, my Postal jacket, a knit cap, and a scarf. Soon the ground was turning white, and the sky kept doing its chameleon thing with clouds and clear blue then clouds again.

After taking a bunch of photos I went back to my truck and remembered that I hadn't eaten yet, so I had a sandwich and cookies and then figured that I'd drive south to hit some other trails that I have been curious about. But soon after I passed the turnoff for Linville Gorge I found that the Parkway had been blocked off by the Park Service due to the inclement weather. I just couldn't win.

I turned around and headed back toward Linville where I knew I could drive down the Kistler Highway and walk to the top of the falls. I'll pick it up there tomorrow...

There aren't many original buildings remaining from the days when Mortimer was a thriving town. But this one still stands. I'm not sure what it was, but my suspicion is that it may have been the train station. (Or it could just be someone's vacation home.)

And this little building sits out on the same lot as the "train station".

I take photos at Beacon Heights during a break in the clouds.

Whoops! Here comes another snow squall over the 6,000-foot summit of Tanawha!

Damn! The storm is gone again!

This storm really caught me by surprise!

Looking off toward the east.

Then the snow starts getting serious again and soon the ground is beginning to turn white. Checking weather reports the following morning, I discovered that the area got around five inches of snowfall.

Lost Cove Cliffs as seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway. I've hiked there a couple of times. It's a very beautiful area.

No comments: