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.

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