Overnighting in the High Country on the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

There’s not much more beautiful than the high country along the Blue Ridge Parkway in June. The days are long. The forest has completed its greening and the heath bushes are in bloom. If you catch the sights in the evening or very early morning you can even avoid the crowds.

I’ve been on the shelf for a few weeks with an ankle injury while hiking, and was really suffering fear of missing out anguish. I can’t do much walking, so I came up with a plan that would enable me to combine my volunteer work on the Parkway with a chance to catch a sunset and sunrise from Black Balsam at milepost 420.

I loaded my foam sleeping pad in the back of my Subaru and headed to Pounding Mill Overlook at 6:00 PM to pick up trash. When done, I continued another few miles west to the Black Balsam spur road. The air was cool as a cold front has been hanging over the Southern Appalachians for a few days. It was jacket weather, but the good news was the high pressure and persistent breeze had cleared out the haze, leaving crystal clear sky and long distance viewing.

From my perch at 6,000 feet over Graveyard Fields and Looking Glass Rock, I planned on enjoying the sunset, and the sunrise. I brought a picnic to while away the time as I took pictures from my tripod and watched the scenery change with ever lengthening shadows. The moon was hanging over the scene, about three-quarters full, adding natural lighting and ambiance.

Once it was dark, I enjoyed the star constellations and wispy clouds for an hour before crawling into my Subaru for some shuteye. I got up once around midnight to see if the Milky Way was visible, but there was too much light from the moon and the towns of Brevard and Hendersonville… even Greenville way off in the distance.

Back to sleep, I got up again at 6:00 AM, and was quickly energized by the 41° temp and 25 mph wind that greeted me. Brrr! Good thing I came prepared with plenty of warm clothes.

I setup the tripod, and waited patiently for that big orange globe to make its daily appearance on the eastern horizon. I was not disappointed. The sunrise was magnificent. While the cloudless sky did not light up the entire arena with hues of pink and orange, it did enable clear viewing all the way to the Black Mountains far north of Asheville. Très bon.

After sixty minutes enjoying the golden hour, I packed up and headed 10 miles further west, stopping for occasional photos along the way. Finishing up at Herrin Knob, it was time to call it a day. I was back home by 9:30. All in all, a wonderful adventure. It wasn’t as exciting as getting out on the trail, but was pretty darn nice for an old geezer hobbling around on one leg.

The photos below are from the evening of June 13, 2019 and morning of June 14. Feel free to make any comments below the gallery, or tell me about your overnight experiences in the high country. Thanks for visiting!

 

 

This post was created by Jeff Clark. Please feel free to use the sharing icons below, or add your thoughts to the comments. Pack it in, pack it out. Preserve the past. Respect other hikers. Let nature prevail. Leave no trace.

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