Friday, October 14, 2011

Carver Gap–Elk River Falls

Carver Gap is a very popular place on the Appalachian Trail.  Not only can you drive to one of the premier “balds” in the  Southern Appalachians, but in season it is the closest approach to the rhododendron “gardens” of Roan Mountain.  Today it wasn’t too crowded, SINCE IT WAS 41 DEGREES AND WIND GUSTING TO 50MPH!!!  Seriously folks, a ice axe might have been helpful just to hold your place on the trail.  Clouds were scooting overhead at warp speed, blinking the sunlight off and on like a disco; a single yellow leaf could be traced as it shot UP from below and coasted across the bald twenty feet in the air like a canary with its tail afire.
carver gap


Rhodies starting to curl up –Brrrrr.

view from grassy bald

View from Grassy Bald ---also Brrrrr

We retreated to lower altitude, thinking that this sustained wind may just spell the end of the fall colors.  There were times when sheets of yellow leaves were crossing the road horizontally.  We drove to Elk River Falls thinking last night’s rain would swell it’s volume.  Oh Yes, and the Kodak people had left just one more brilliant red limb for your photographic enjoyment. 
elk river falls
We had heard about the Valle Crucis County Fair and the Wooly Worm Festival in Banner Elk; We planned our weekend to take them in, but our little drive over highway 194 (“one lane, road work” “road closed. local traffic only” ) convinced us that the festival traffic would be an unqualified nightmare. We will be seeking amusement nearer the campsite.
On the way “home”, Pat bravely went where we were forbidden to go and neatly bypassed the blasting zone at the Watauga River bridge.  To celebrate, we dined at the Captain’s Table, a fifty year old Marina restaurant overlooking the lake.  From our cozy perch, we watched whirls of wind whip the lake surface into whitecaps while a steady stream of puffy flat bottomed clouds pushed toward an impact with the mountains behind us.  We are happy to be back in our snug campsite in the hollow, electric blanket on high and a little hot chocolate steaming..

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