I needed to clear my head today. Sitting around the house does me no good at all and it’s easy to sink into negative emotions like depression and worry. I knew I had to get out for awhile. Fortunately I live very close to the Blue Ridge Parkway, so I decided to take a nice long Sunday drive. I decided to go up into the Black Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge just north and east of Asheville.
I drove about 60 miles, to Green Knob, which is about 15 miles past Mt. Mitchell (at 6,683 feet, it is the highest peak on the East Coast, even higher than Mt. Washington in New Hampshire). I was going to go up to Mt. Mitchell and take some pictures, but I took one look at the line of traffic on the off road going up there and said, “no way.” There are other spots just as nice.
The drive up there is always interesting. As you climb, you feel your ears pop, and the air gets noticeably cooler. I was able to turn off my A/C and roll down the windows and breathe in the fresh mountain air. After awhile, the deciduous trees get shorter and stumpier, until they are mere twisted shrubs. Craggy Gardens is filled with these stunted little trees and lots of wild rhododendrons, which are native to this area. When they’re in full bloom, they have beautiful, big lavender clusters of flowers. Right now they’re just dark green.
Climb a little higher, and the deciduous trees and shrubs are completely replaced by conifers. I’ve been told the climate up here is similar to southern Canada. There’s a lot of ice and snow here in the winter and this part of the Parkway is usually closed off during the cold months. Mt. Mitchell itself is covered with the skeletons of the Frasier firs, which were indigenous to this area but died off about 30 years ago due to an aphid infestation. But it isn’t all bare–there are other types of conifers that are surviving quite nicely.
On the drive home, it rained a little–some of the photos here show the building up of the storm clouds. I got home and felt much more at peace. Spending time with nature always has that affect on me. Here are the rest of the photos I took today.