Misty Mountaintops

I am itching so badly to share some new fall color photos with you, but I told myself I have to finish posting my summer stuff before I get to those...

This trip took place in mid-June, during the Rhododendron festival at Roan Mountain. I didn't actually go to the festival, but it usually coincides with peak Rhodie bloom on top of Roan Mountain. So I headed up to Carver's Gap for my second time this year, hoping to find endless pink and white blooms.

However, this was actually a rough morning... I had planned to do a 7 mile run, and then head to the gardens for some pictures. But I woke up late, wasted an hour trying to decide if I should still go, left, then forgot a piece on my hydration pack that I had to turn around for, and then ran into rain on the way up. By the time I got there I was more than slightly frustrated. Then when I entered the park, the ranger told me the blooms were pretty much done but that I may be able to find a few.

They always say the best things in life come unexpectedly and this was a great example. The rainy weather that I had been cursing actually draped the mountains in a heavy misty fog - something I had never really seen before but is common here during wet weather. This was my first time actually having to drive through it, and walk through it, and yes, it was as cool as it sounds!

I decided to head down the AT into North Carolina, and I was literally blown away at the beauty I saw. I felt like I was walking through the PacNW, it was so foggy and green. Pretty soon I didn't really care whether there were Rhodies or not...

Date of Trip: June 21, 2014

This was definitely my favorite trip of the summer. It was a solo trip, but I find times alone are the times you are most sensitive to your surroundings, and I was blessed with a lot to take in that day!

1/13, f5.6, ISO 200
What is great about misty days is the color saturation you get as a result. You have to be careful not to include sky, which will probably get washed out, but the diffused light eliminates harsh contrast and shadows that can be detrimental to color. I love the ferns and moss in these two pictures, and the soft light that they reflect upwards from the ground.

1/250, f4.0, ISO 3200
Still love the green, but this picture was odd because I didn't have a trail running through the picture - it's literally just a mass of green.

1/60, f2.0, ISO 200
This was the start of the trail, I love taking pictures of steps as much as I like trails. They give something for your eye to follow, and in this case invite the viewer into the misty woods.

1/60, f2.0, ISO 100
 A little bit of harsh white in the sky but again, love the diffuse light and super green ferns!

1/60, f2.0, ISO 200
Love the winding trail and the round rocks that give a nice focus for the foreground in this shot. Sometimes I wonder if I could have cropped this photo and had a nice landscape shot with just the bottom third... not sure....

1/50, f5.6, ISO 200
I like the contrast of the tree trunks as well as the jagged rocks, and the distance the picture takes your eye down the trail.

1/60, f3.2, ISO 80

1/60, f2.0, ISO 200
In this photo the sun had started to come out, but there was still plenty of mist to soften it. The result was saturated colors and beautiful reflection from the moss on the rocks. Definitely one of my favorite shots.

1/60, f2.0, ISO 200
Finishing my hike, going back up the steps I showed in an earlier picture. The mist was mostly cleared up by now and is shining through the trees.

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Inside the Rhodie Gardens. More moss and trees, and rocks.

I then went back down to Carver's Gap to look around and take more pictures. My 7-mile run didn't happen but I didn't really mind. I was too busy looking around. Plus... 7 miles at 5,000+ft - who was I kidding???

1/250, f4.0, ISO 80
Who needs rhodies when you've got beautiful native azaleas??

1/250, f4.0, ISO 80
 Another shot of AT you may recognize from earlier posts. Just covered in clouds now.

1/500, f5.0, ISO 80
Looking out from the AT. Love the billowy clouds. Nice to have both a visible sky and visible foreground as well!

1/250, f3.5, ISO 400
Oh, and I did find some Rhododendrons... :)

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