Thursday, August 1, 2013

Blue Ridge Rain...Day Two

For the second straight day, we awoke to the sound of thunder, only this time the cawing crows kept cadence... As luck would have it, we opted for coffee and eats at Knights on Main while deciding what to do with our day. On the wall above our booth, a framed article from Our State offered to spill the beans on Blowing Rock's best kept secrets. Between the article and Julie's iPhone, we found ourselves at the trailhead for Glen Burney Falls before the last traces of pancake syrup were completely gone from our fingers.

A mere three blocks south on Main, we embarked on our adventure to the sound of rushing waters. Turns out the Glen Burney waterfall experience is much more impressive after a day or two of steady rainfall.

Lush and verdant vegetation blanketed the high streambanks, offering a bounty of challenges for the budding botanists in our crew. Newborn oaks and maples competed with lilies and thimbleberries for a foothold in the sun-dappled humus.

The abundant rainfall not only brought the waterfalls to epic levels of flow, they transformed the gently sloping trail of stone into a slippery stream parallel to the roaring river.

Summer wildflowers thrived in margins along the trail where the sunlight peeked through the canopy for a short while each day.

Bizarre bright yellow fungi rose like flickering flames from the forest floor.

Rattlesnake plantain, one of NC's native orchids, was ubiquitous along the middle reaches of the trail, raising its spires beneath the multitude of rhododendron branches, a few of which still clung to the lovely rose-tinted blossoms of July.

At last, almost two miles and perhaps eight hundred feet in elevation later, the boys reached the falls. The vigorous pace and newly emergent sun prompted them to seek cooler climes in the pool which formed mid-fall.

This quickly led to the discovery that the waters of Glen Burney are cold!

Should I stay or should I go...?

Staying prevails, but only in very brief doses.

Just above a rather precipitous plunge, the boys pose for the camera. Somewhere around this time, we realize we have completely overshot our mark and are actually posing at Glen Marie falls, a quarter mile or so below Glen Burney.

We agree to depart in search of our original objective, but only after Hunter takes the opportunity to document the view from a slightly different perspective.

The view above from mid-stream...

And what can be seen of the view below...

As we depart in search of Glen Burney, we spy another spectator with a perfect view of the falls.

A short hike back uphill and one previously overlooked switchback later, Jay and Hunter pose in the mist at the foot of a most impressive Glen Burney Falls.

As the chilly mist saturates our clothing, we begin to appreciate that the unique spectacle we are now witnessing would not have been nearly as impressive had it not been for the heavy rains which so rudely ended the boys' tennis match the evening before. Hoot Owl Karma strikes again.

Our sense of wonder renewed in spectacular fashion, we begin the return trek upward to Blowing Rock, pausing a time or two to take in more of nature's gifts, such as these ghost plants or indian pipes; not fungi, but cousin instead to the glorious evergreen rhododendrons massed above them.

We turn aside once more for a quick look down at Glen Burney from the overlook, only to find it has been relocated by the rain-swollen stream.

This little green flower gave our botanists a start; they'll let you know when the ID is complete...

Julie waves to the stragglers from a small spot of full sunshine overlooking the trail-become-stream which will lead us back to the top.

Ruins not ancient enough to rival those of the Inca or Maya, but ancient enough to warrant a documentary shot. Remnants of the old Blowing Rock waterworks, state of the art technology in the 1920's, relegated to a different purpose today, but still immersed in the echoes of the roaring waters it once tamed and diverted to its purpose.

The not-quite-ripe thimbleberry provides a tart but tasty treat for the now weary and sweat-drenched wanderers as they emerge from the canyon of wonders onto the streets of downtown Blowing Rock. 

Day two in the Blue Ridge rain is almost in the books...

1 comment:

  1. It is a great kindness that you all are willing to allow sedentary spectators a vicarious view of such terrific sights!