Friday, October 16, 2009

The Blue Ridge

So last weekend we went up into the Blue Ridge. We just wanted to get out, I suppose. We had no idea that the color was going to be so beautiful!

I think that's Lake Junaluska in the distance, but not quite sure.
I thought this cloud was interesting, how it was just spreading over the mountain.
Tunnel picture! We must have passed through twenty of them.

It was so foggy, at one point when we stopped, I walked across the road, turned around, and couldn't see the other side. The clouds just squat and hover, and then spread all over a place. You can almost see it happening.

We walked quite extensively through Graveyard Fields. Of course it doesn't look like a graveyard anymore, after the fire. But since the fire, only scrubby plants like blackberries grow there. They die and decay, and are slowly adding nutrients to the soil, making it richer. And so one day, trees will grow there again. Although I can't guarantee it will ever again truly merit its name. But it was all startlingly low and red and fiery-looking--it's easily recognisable, very different from the rest of the area.

Maura, who is successfully photogenic. That's her insulin pump in her pocket.
The ground apparently collapsed here, leaving a nice little place to walk in between the two pits.
This is Josiah, who thinks he's being photogenic. When you tell him to smile, this is what he does: stands stiffly and uncomfortably, like one of those little disgruntled Victorian children in uncomfortable clothes, and makes this constricted face. He really thinks he's smiling. Of course it's still absolutely adorable.
That was the sun. It was so hidden behind thick fog that it was really shocking to me that I felt any warmth at all.

I wanted to take a picture of this well-behaved little stream, which was flowing so perfectly in the way the NPS want it to go. I was in a hurry, so accepted the fact that my feet would be in the picture. However, my mom pointed out my reflection. So it turned out pretty cool.
This was the only thing that kept me from running down the long wooden walk: sporadic rot and breakthrough, possibly caused by running teenagers. I walked.It was all burnt oranges and scarlets and crimsons and rich browns from light to dark--it only confirms my belief, held by most, if not all, people who have been there, that this is the most beautiful place to spend the fall in. It's almost the most beautiful place in the world, but not quite. The end of the walk. . .whew. That's the fam, waiting for us.
Our drive that day convinced me that Stephen Vincent Benet is not only one who has fallen in love with American names, and also that he missed out on an experience he would gave greatly enjoyed by keeping his name-loving observations to the West. I've fallen in love with American names. . .

. . .the sharp names that never get fat. . .
. . . Cold Mountain. .
. . .Bear Pen Gap, Beartrail Ridge, Doubtletop Mountain, Lone Bald, Caney Fork, Wolf Mountain, Fetterbush, Beartrap Gap. They're alive and adaptable. They always fit.
There is Devil's Courthouse, named for its famous cave. The Cherokees called it Judaculla, Tsul'kălû'. They said that a slant-eyed giant lived in it. The settlers said that the devil kept court in that cave, and that's where it got the name it has today.
There is Looking Glass Rock, so called because when it gets wet the sun reflects on it all around. They say its most of all like a mirror in the winter, when sometimes the water freezes. It looks like one huge rock with a whole bunch of trees just set on the top, like it's a toy train set.

But I have not been able to find out why they call it Cold Mountain. Looking Glass Rock, Beartrap Gap--that all makes sense, but Cold Mountain? Everything else makes sense, but not that. All mountains are cold. Perhaps it was just named that by some dull person. Anyways, there she is, down below.Also, I'd like to know about Wolf Mountain. Why Wolf Mountain? Maybe there were lots of wolves there, but I'd like to think it was named for something of special significance to somebody. Maybe they fought a wolf off all alone there. That would be enough to make me call it Wolf Mountain. Or perhaps they saw a white wolf there, which is wonderful good luck. Of course, it would be good luck to see a wolf of any kind in the mountains nowadays. So I suppose now it's significant enough that it was called Wolf Mountain at all. That way we can say, "Look--see? They were here once."

Someone needs to write some good poetry about it, anyways. Somebody Byronic and quirky and memorable.

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