Memorial Day 2014

May 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

One of the places in Southwest Virginia that most ardently celebrates Memorial Day is Marion.

The courthouse square becomes a memorial to those men and women from Smyth County who have served the United States in the Armed Forces. Hundreds of flags and crosses are placed to recognize their service to our country.

Smyth County Courthouse, May 22, 2014

Smyth County Courthouse, May 22, 2014

On Thursday, May 22, 2014, the Town of Marion and Rolling Thunder held an outdoor ceremony in front of the Smyth County courthouse to memorialize those soldiers who have been missing in action in each of the U.S. military conflicts since World War I.  The weather outside was perfect for the ceremony.

Panoramic View of the Rolling Thunder Ceremony at the Smyth County Courthouse, May 22, 2014

Panoramic View of the Rolling Thunder Ceremony at the Smyth County Courthouse, May 22, 2014

The grounds in front of the courthouse were literally covered with flags and crosses.  The historical marker on the courthouse lawn, seen below, provides some history about Smyth County and the courthouse.

Grounds in front of the Smyth County Courthouse

Grounds in front of the Smyth County Courthouse

 

 

 

Leafing Out

May 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

The emergence of an abundance of foliage in the Appalachians is the surest sign that Spring is in full force. Every week the hues of green change on the mountains and in the valleys as the leaves grow on the hardwoods. These photos were taken today, Sunday, May 11, 2014, during a hike in the area where Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina meet.

Appalachian Hardwoods Leaf Out, May 11, 2014

Appalachian Hardwoods Leaf Out, May 11, 2014

Leafing Out, May 11, 2014

Leafing Out, May 11, 2014

Happy Easter 2014

April 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

Spring has arrived, and we finally have warm weather after a colder than usual winter. These two mourning doves have been on and about my property for the last three weeks, providing us with entertainment during their courtship.

Mourning doves on a maple tree in Abingdon, Virginia, late March 2014

Mourning doves on a maple tree in Abingdon, Virginia, late March 2014

Late March Sunrise Redux

April 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

Here is the sunrise yesterday. This same time last year I posted a late March sunrise, you can see that here.

March 31, 2014 Sunrise over Abingdon, Virginia

March 31, 2014 Sunrise over Abingdon, Virginia

March’s Lion

March 31, 2014 § Leave a comment

This weekend we once again attended the 2014 Banff Mountain Film Festival (see my previous article about our trip to the 2011 Banff Mountain Festival here and about the 2012 Banff Mountain Film Festival trip here).  The films were, as usual, superb, with a mix of  adreneline-inducing flicks and more circumspect movies about the outdoors.

View of Pond Mountain from Route 91 Between Mountain City and Laurel Bloomery, Tennessee, March 30, 2014

View of Pond Mountain from Route 91 Between Mountain City and Laurel Bloomery, Tennessee, March 30, 2014 coming back from the Banff Film Festival

Some of my favorite films from the two nights were:

  • Flow:  The Elements of Freeride, a short film by a geophysicist who documented his down hill bike ride with diagrams and names of plants and animals;
  • The Last Great Climb, a hard core expedition to an unclimbed peak in Antarctica;
  • The Questions We Ask, an introspective about adventure and paddleboarding; and
  • North of the Sun, a movie about two young Norwegians who live on a desolated beach north of the Arctic Circle through the sunless winter to surf and snowboard, cleaning up trash and flotsam that washes up on the beach.  This film was the overall grand prize winner at the 2014 festival in Banff, Canada.

Last night, after the films, we had a very small taste of extreme conditions as we made a short but harrowing trip up to Blowing Rock in 40 mph winds and blizzard-like blowing snow.  This morning, it was reported that there were 50-60 mph wind gusts in Boone and Blowing Rock, and up to 97 mph (that’s not a typo) on Grandfather Mountain, where we were planning to hike.  Needless to say, the hiking trip we planned was cancelled.  When the storm moved out, blue skies shined over the snow-blanketed mountains.

Here is what it was like in the morning, note the lamp posts that are bent in the wind:

As we left this morning, a 20 foot pine tree had been blown over in the parking lot.  Not exactly the 60 degrees forecasted earlier this week.  March went out with a roar, but we nonetheless enjoyed a nice weekend of adventure film watching.

 

Emerald Pool

March 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

This weekend we went for a walk down the VCT near Alvarado.  The melted snow run off from the mountains colored the South Fork of the Holston, making the deeper pools bluish green.  The water was just a bit high.  The section of river from Damascus to Alvarado was likely about the right level for kayaking.

One of many emerald pools on the South Fork of the Holston River, Washington County, Virginia, March 1, 2014

One of many emerald pools on the South Fork of the Holston River, Washington County, Virginia, March 1, 2014

Clinch Mountain’s Southern Spine

February 23, 2014 § 1 Comment

Because of its prominence, Clinch Mountain affords some of the best views over the Holston River and Clinch River watersheds.  The best views are available during the winter when there is no foliage.  On clear winter days you can see almost 100 miles south. On Saturday, February 22, 2014, I drove to the Hidden Valley Management Area and hiked the southeastern section of Clinch Mountain on access roads and trails in that area.

Southern Spine of Clinch Mountain

Southern Spine of Clinch Mountain

Clinch Mountain overlooks the small community of Hansonville and Moccasin Creek.  Clinch Mountain divides two significant river basins:  the three forks of the Holston River drain the valleys to the east and south of the mountain (which is to the left of the ridge in the photos), and the Clinch River to the west and north of the mountain (which is to the right in the photos).

South View Panorama

South View Panorama

In the photo above, the view shows the spine of Clinch Mountain to the southwest, and further to the south the valley through which I-81 travels, with the Iron Mountains (and Holston Mountain) bordering the other side of the valley, with the much higher Unaka Mountains (including Roan Mountain) on the horizon.

Long range views to the south

Long Range Views to the South, including the Unaka Mountains

The western side of Clinch Mountain hase similarly long range vistas, with some cliff outcroppings.   On this hike, however, I stayed on the southeastern side of the mountain.

Big Moccasin Creek drainage

Big Moccasin Creek

In the photo above, Clinch Mountain is on the left, and the much smaller hill on the right is Big Moccasin Ridge.  Together they frame in the Big Moccasin Creek and the valley.

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