Top of the Roan

Normally I don't think about fall until October, but with pumpkin-flavored everything starting to turn up around here I guess summer's about over, and I haven't really made a single post from my adventures this summer. I am excited for fall though, this will be the first time I experience "fall color" which we don't get a lot of down south. Things just go from green to yellow, to brown, while a lot of things actually stay green. I'm planning a lot of sight seeing trips for the next couple of months so that hopefully I'll have some fall pictures to share with you! But first, let me start recapping my summer.

Date of Trip: 5/18/14

Technically still spring, but I couldn't have adjusted any quicker to the warmer temperatures. These pictures were taken on top of Roan Mountain in Tennessee, at Carver's Gap and around the State Park. Roan Mountain State Park is actually south of the town of Roan Mountain, TN, along TN-143. The Park has numerous trails as well as a visitor's center, campgrounds, and amphitheater. If you continue south past the park along TN-143, you will keep going up in elevation until you reach Carver's Gap. Carver's Gap is right on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, and sits at over 5,000 ft in elevation. The Appalachian trail runs along the border between NC and TN and crosses Carver's Gap. Shane and I took a day trip up here to hike and run on the AT, but I was still recovering from a cold so it was mostly a hike. There are several gorgeous vantage points - several of which you can see for several miles out in all directions. I was sorry I didn't have a wide angle lens.

f6.3, 1/500, ISO 80
Climbing up towards the bald

f6.3, 1/500, ISO 80
Still climbing upwards, north on the AT.
 I love the color in this photo, as well as how well the clouds pop out of the sky. On my wish list is a good polarizing filter so that they don't come out too bright and unrealistic-looking though.

f8.0, 1/500, ISO 80
One of the first outlooks

 Love the color in this one too; I cropped it to make it feel more panoramic.

f5.0, 1/500, ISO 80
A view of the AT to north, from the AT.
 I love this spot on the trail. For a moment you forget you are in Tennessee and think you are in Switzerland or something. You can barely make out the AT trail climbing up the hill, towards Engine Gap.

Again though, I think a polarizer would have helped with the fluorescent-looking clouds.

f5.6, 1/500, ISO 80
This is taken from the same spot as the above photo, but is looking straight down the AT instead of off to the side. Like I said, you've got 360 degrees of gorgeous views up here!

f5.0, 1/500, ISO 80
Same hill in the distance, climbing up towards Engine Gap, only now a little closer.
 I would love to return to this spot (and many others up here) with a wide angle lens. The colors and scenery are beautiful but I feel cut off at the sides.

f5.6, 1/500, ISO 80
View from a rocky outcrop on the return hike.

f4.0, 1/40, ISO 100
The "forest wonderland" section of trail.
 One of my favorite parts of the trail is a short section that winds in and immediately back out of an alpine forest. It is towards the beginning of the trail north from Carver's Gap parking lot. It reminds me of something out of those Narnia movies or something. Shane got to see it covered in snow when he went running up here by himself in April. His blog pictures are amazing too - Shane's Roan Mountain Photos.

f3.2, 1/160, ISO 80
Doe River as it runs past the visitor's center.
After hiking and running at the top, we came back down to the state park area and walked around some of those trails looking for interesting plants. I don't consider myself a plant guru at all (ignore the job title!!!), I  pretty much just take pictures of whatever I think is pretty, but Shane was on the hunt for orchids and other various-named species I can't recall. I believe we were on part of the Cloudland Trail.

f2.0, 1/60, ISO 200
Wild geranium - Geranium maculatum
(and fly)
I am not sure what causes it, but I don't like how really vivid colors come out almost neon in my photos, with overly sharp edges. I like the detail though.

f2.0, 1/60, ISO 100
Foam flower - Tiarella cordifolia

f2.0, 1/60, ISO 80
More wild geranium

f2.0, 1/60, ISO 100
More wild geranium, and fern...
I really liked how the dense tree canopy above filtered enough light to help me avoid shadows and really harsh reflections, but no so much that I had to use flash.
f3.5, 1/60, ISO 80
Creeping phlox - Phlox stolonifera
Enlarged, this photo looks more blurry than I thought it was but LCD screens are so hard to view in daylight.

So, hopefully I have inspired you to go visit Roan Mountain! Or at least to get out there and enjoy some nature :)

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