Tuesday, September 29, 2015

September 28, 2015 - Blue Ridge Parkway from Grandfather Mountain to Asheville

Today's outing was twofold - the main reason was so that my wife could complete the last hike for her next book about day hikes along the NC section of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The other reason was to check out the leaf color color progression along that section of the Parkway.

I figured the Parkway would be foggy in the morning, so we took the quicker boring way down I-40 to US70 in Old Fort, then up US221 to the Parkway at Linville.  We did see some very spotty color once we passed Linville Caverns on 221.  The fog got thicker as we neared the Parkway and we could barely see the trees once we got on the BRP.  The trail we hiked was a section of the Tanawha Trail from Cold Prong Overlook to Boone Fork Overlook.  It's a 2 mile section and is a nice stroll through the woods, but there are other sections of the trail around the Viaduct that offer more interesting scenery.  Just south of our endpoint is a nice foot bridge over Boone Fork, so we also stopped there to see how full that stream was. For those of you not from here or keeping up with our weather, this area has been in a drought all summer with the deficit reaching around 8 inches just 2 weeks ago. Creek and waterfall levels were really low. Then the rains came at the end of last week and it's been raining on and off ever since with most areas getting 4-8 inches - and there's more in the forecast.

bridge along the Tanawha Trail
Boone Fork

The fog began lifting somewhat on the return trip back to the vehicle. We had pretty much decided that we were going to take the Parkway back home unless the fog was too thick to see the road.  Unfortunately, it closed back in quickly. I had wanted to stop at the Rough Ridge Overlook to see that waterfall at the parking area, so we pulled in and you can see it below. Also at that overlook, they have redone the stairs up from the parking area and did a really nice job!

waterfall at Rough Ridge Overlook along the Parkway

We could barely see off the Parkway at this point, but were seeing some peak trees. It didn't look like full peak by any means, but it's still worth a drive if the weather would clear in the next day or 2.  It was still too foggy over the Viaduct and Grandfather Mountain areas to see much, but we could see some peak trees right next to the road. The fog thinned a bit once we approached Linville Falls and we could see enough to tell that the color was still spotty in that area. Cindy suggested we stop at Duggars Creek Falls right off the Linville parking area for a look at the water flow there. There were actually more colorful trees along the road into the parking area than there were along the Parkway.  Duggars Creek was gushing as you can see from the photo below.

Duggars Creek Falls

I normally go below the bridge to shoot, but you have to get in the creek for a good shot and I didn't want to chance it with the swift water. I just settled for a shot from the bridge. Back on the Parkway, the color situation remained the same for the most part - spotty, but still mostly green. In the lower elevations we could see off of the Parkway some and green was still the dominant color.  The color picked up a bit in the Mount Mitchell area, but so did the fog. The areas of exposed rock and trees had the most color.  We were hoping against hope that the clouds would part so we could see Glassmine Falls in the Craggy Gardens area and it did!  I really thought there would be more water on it, but there was none 2 weeks ago.

Glassmine Falls

That really shows the color situation in the higher elevations.  On the opposite side of the Parkway, the view down towards Barnardsville was still very green.  Color along the Parkway remained spotty all the way back to Asheville and we even saw a bit of sunshine! There's no telling what kind of effect all this rain will have on the leaf color. Only time will tell.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

September 27 - Back up to the Parkway

Cindy and I headed up to the Blue Ridge Parkway again today to check out the color situation south towards Hwy 215. This time we got on the Parkway at the The North Carolina Arboretum since there was a huge bicycle thing happening on 276. We started seeing some color almost right away which is really early for this elevation. The color is still very spotty, but there are some very brilliant trees along the Parkway. It was also very foggy and drizzly the entire day again, but when we could see off the Parkway, the dominant color is still green by far. This spotty color continued all the way up and the fog got thicker as we got higher in elevation. I was hoping for a view of Second Falls, but couldn't see a thing. We bypassed Graveyard and headed to Hwy 215 and down to Sunburst Falls. The color has really picked up in that area since last week, but still isn't peak. We also stopped at that small waterfall along the road on the left that's about 1 1/2 miles from the Parkway. Water levels are back up as you can see by the pictures below. (Since my last post, this area has received 2-4 inches of much needed rain over a several day period.) Once back up on the BRP, we headed south. Someone was shooting wildflowers along the road and when we passed her I said 'I think that's Emily Felty!' So we turned around and sure enough it was! I had never me her before (a FB friend) and we had a really nice chat. Cindy and I then decided to head back to the house and are hoping for some less foggy weather tomorrow. I think we're heading towards the Viaduct to see what's happening up that way.

small waterfall along NC215

Sunburst Falls

shot along the foggy Parkway

Saturday, September 26, 2015

September 21, 2015 - First Color of the Fall Season

This past summer has been very dry - moderate drought conditions actually - but dry summers can sometimes yield brilliant fall color. The leaf 'experts' are actually predicting a very colorful year, so we'll have to wait and see if they are correct.

The higher elevations are the first to turn and that's usually not until the first week of October. I spotted a post on Facebook yesterday that showed some early color in Graveyard Fields off the Blue Ridge Parkway, so Cindy and I headed that way today. The forecast called for foggy conditions and we were in and out of it all day long. We saw some very spotty color heading up US276 north from Brevard - a bit of yellow and the reds of the earliest turning trees. Once we hit the Parkway, we passed a few small patches of very bright yellows, peaches and reds. The overall color was still mostly green, but it's a bit early to be seeing these peak trees. It was too foggy to stop at East Fork and Second Falls overlooks, so the Graveyard Fields parking was our first stop. Visibility was low, but we could see color in the trees just below the parking area. We packed our gear and headed down. Once we got down to the bridge at Yellowstone Prong, the colors just popped! We wandered around for a few hours while the fog moved in and out. There were a lot of peak trees mixed with green ones, goldenrod was still very yellow, and blueberry and huckleberry shrubs were red to maroon colored. It was absolutely beautiful. At Second Falls, the color was more green, but there were also some reds and oranges mixed in. After leaving Graveyard Fields, we headed north on NC215 which is usually very colorful also. Peak is still at least a week or so away down there, but we could see quite a few peak trees higher up in the first couple of miles. Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades had a bit of color, but not enough to pull the camera out. Water levels were also very low - we need some rain! We'll be back up that way in the next few days to see how the color is progressing. Below are some shots I took in Graveyard Fields.

Yellowstone Prong

Yellowstone Prong

along the trail

along Yellowstone Prong

Second Falls
Second Falls


Those of you who have followed my web site - ncwaterfalls.com - for a while may have noticed that I used to chronicle my outdoor adventures though my galleries on PBase. It's a place to post photos, but I also added commentary and it served as a supplement to the main web site. I did this for several years, but in 2010 I met a wonderful lady and didn't really have time to keep this up. Long story short, we got married and are now both retired, so I now have the time. I decided on a blog this time and we'll just have to see how it goes.

I know the name 'Every Day is Saturday' isn't original, and I may change it if I can think up something a little more clever. The posts here will be only for any hiking or traveling that my wife and I do - or that I do alone - and I'm not going to bore you with any of the mundane day to day activities I do like working in the yard or on the house. My wife and I are also birders, so I'll include our birding adventures and may or may not throw in some pictures or videos of birds at the feeders. Thanks for looking!