Friday, December 2, 2011


Blue Ridge Mountains from Roan Highlands, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok
(click on image for larger view)

Now I take you from lowlands to highlands... yesterday's post was about cypress swamps in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Today's post is about ridge tops in the
 Appalachian Highlands. This is a view we had while hiking a stretch of the Appalachian Trail (AT) a few weeks ago. It looks towards the layered undulating curves of the Blue Ridge Mountains, aptly named as you can see in this image. The blue hues are caused by trees which release a chemical compound called isoprene which creates a bluish haze over the densely forested slopes.

Our vantage point is from a wide open area atop the Roan Highlands. These areas are called "balds" and the Roan Highlands have the largest ones in the Appalachians. Balds are wide grassy fields that cover ridge tops, and the strange part of it is that very few trees want to grow there. Surprisingly, naturalists are not positive what causes them. I will post some pictures of the balds (but not my bald spot) over the next week or so.

We have been up in the high mountains at night, when the kids were young, and have seen all the stars and constellations visible at such a lofty and expansive elevation. I imagine a meteor shower in particular 
would be awe inspiring to see... we were so close to the sky that it seemed like we could just reach up and grab a shooting star right out of the pitch black heavens.

Hope you have an awe inspiring moment of your own this weekend.


  1. this may be my awe-inspiring moment for the weekend. i'll be inside working the rest of the time.

  2. love the 'slices' of hills in the background

  3. Związki chemiczne - brzmi to strasznie- dodały wielkiego uroku zdjęciu, które jest śliczne. Bardzo podoba mi się Twoja koszulka, w której jesteś na zdjęciu w profilu, czyżbyś miał coś z Polską wspólnego ?.Pozdrawiam

  4. Ye'll take the high road an A'll take the low road.
    And A'll be in Roanland afore ye. ;o)
    Where me an my true love will ne'er meet again.
    On the bonnie, bonnie bens of the Appalachian Highlands.

    Oh aye, A can also spaek juist bittie Scots?! Ha, juist a wee bit!

  5. This scenery is breathtaking!
    A great inspiration, thanks for sharing,

  6. Hardly, Doug! The weather here is so dull. Your photo maked me dream.

  7. Very interisting history and awesome view.

  8. the very view that i cherish so much - those layers of ridges going on and on beyond the horizon. by looking at your photo, the name "blue ridge" becomes quite obvious - thanks for the bold explanation of bald, anyway ...
    have a very good and relaxing weekend, doug, and thank you for your continued support (as ever!)!

  9. Love the way the mountains look in this.

  10. Thanks so much for not only sharing beautiful shots but for giving us such interesting narrative to chew on as well. Fantastic post Doug. I'd never heard of the isoprene effect--very cool!

  11. Love the blue mountains in the back. Nicely done.
    Have a nice day.

  12. now i know why they call this blue ridge.. :) beautiful shot!


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