Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our weekend in the clouds.

Well, early Saturday morning found us "city-folk down in the flatlands" with a rained out soccer game, and a rained out football game, so we decided that we'd take a chance, and drive on up to Zirconia, home of Sky Top orchards. It's between the towns of Saluda (where I want to move) and Flat Rock, just N.E. of the DuPont State Forest. (I had a link for the Forest, but it came up as malicious, so if you google it, be warned!).
The day started off cloudy, and as we got closer to the mountains, the clouds gave way to a beautiful Autumn afternoon of sunshine and 70 degrees. Hardly what we thought it was going to be! Apparently, we weren't the only people who had cancelled soccer games, because the parking for SkyTop was thronged. After navigating thru the crowds,we made our choices (Pink Lady for the Cajun princess and sons, and Stayman Winesap for me), got some Apple cider and 1 dozen fresh hot apple cider donuts (they mix fresh pressed apple cider into the batter), and bid farewell to Sky top until our next trip.

We decided that perhaps we'd do a little "leafing", by driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway for a stretch, to see if the color was any better higher up. If you were planning on going up the BRP anytime soon, the next few weeks should be spectacular! We saw good color higher up, but as we climbed the trees changed from Hickory and Oaks, to Spruce and fir, so we lost a lot of the color.... We also lost the sun and the 70 degrees. as low lying clouds lumbered in and the temperature started to cool off. By the time the picture below had been taken, the temperature had dipped to 50.

We watched the clouds come in with some excitement, as the boys chattered about telling classmates on Monday that they had driven thru the clouds. I dont think they had any idea how right they'd be!! The farther up we drove, the heavier the clouds got, until we had visibility of about 5 feet and had slowed down to a respectable 5-10 mph as the winds howled and the temperature dipped even lower...
By the time the picture below was taken of me (at the only rest stop we found that was still open) the temperature had dipped to 38 degrees with a guesstimated wind chill of probably 22 or lower.Suffice it to say, i was not prepared for such a drastic change in the weather, and it is a good thing that we had earlier decided against a short hike we were thinking of doing. I seriously dont think I'll ever go to the mountains again without an extra layer or two stashed in the back of the car.
As we drove along towards home, we caught glimpses thru the trees of mighty Mt. Mitchell, the Highest peak in the U.S, East of the Mississippi.There was no place that I could pull over to get the images I saw, but they were magnificent. the Clouds were below us, the setting sun reflecting golds and reds off the top of the clouds, the top of Mt.Mitchell just peaking up from beneath this fluffy white blanket .

As we drove further down the parkway, the clouds eventually swallowed all of Mt Mitchell in a blanket for the night. I can only imagine how cold it really got up there, and I worried about the bicyclists we had passed on our way down the mountain. I hope they had cars near by, because this was a classic example of how quickly the weather can turn against you if you aren't properly prepared for the unexpected. I've got more pictures, and I'll add them later, but I thought this initial batch would be a good start. Am I planning on going back any time soon? You betcha! Soon, hopefully within the next few weeks, I plan on making a camping trip to Pisgah or the Smokies. I'd love to go to the smokies to see the Elk rut, but I have to see how things pan out.

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