By Mark Vandyke

Roan Highlands Catawba Rhododendron Annual Bloom

Equipment Info
Canon Canon EOS 5D Mark II
State/Province/Region
NC
Country
US
Nearest Area
Western North Carolina / Eastern Tennessee
Town
Bakersville, NC / Roan Mountain, TN
Description

This place never ceases to amaze me! Every year I have to do whatever it takes to see the annual Catawba Rhododendron bloom up on Grassy Ridge, and this year did not disappoint. Arriving early Monday evening, June 4th, I toted all of my gear up and over the balds and just managed to get my tent setup before a light rain saturated the grass and the disorienting white fog rolled onto the balds reducing visibility to nil. Much of the evening I spent in the tent reading a book, listening to the wind howl and rip at the tent's rain cover and hoping that Tuesday morning would not look as dreary and unappealing as the evening looked. I should have known by the complete absence of any other campers that I must have been the only idiot who decided to camp in a volatile area without a recent weather report! When I awoke in the morning it was, much to my dismay, much the same; foggy white-out, light rain, and cold as heck! I crawled back into the tent and got back into the aforementioned book. Then, just to be thorough I peaked my head out of the vestibule around what was supposed to be sunrise time and noticed that the sun was burning the fog pink and clearing a very small opening. I scrambled to get my gear assembled and ran full tilt, wet socks, shoes and all out to Grassy Ridge only to once again perform the famous photographers mantra, "hurry up and wait," as the fog socked in the skies and erased all chance at early pink color. Standing at the vantage above I waited for nearly an hour wondering if I should pack up the gear, try to get warm, and dry myself out. Then, as I cannot convey or do justice with words, the fog veil opened for about ten seconds to reveal the most amazing blue sky and to lend some much needed light to the pink Catawba Rhododendron blooms. It only lasted a blink or two of an eye before the fog machine resumed its push over the mountain ridge. This cat and mouse game continued for the better part of forty minutes or so (felt much longer) with me snapping furiously when the conditions presented hoping that something would take! Grassy Ridge is a challenging place, but always a tremendously satisfying experience for me that I keep returning to again and again.

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Date Added
February 6, 2014
Date Taken
February 6, 2014

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