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Coolest Blue Ridge Parkway view ever

By Paul Viau | Nov 06, 2013
Photo by: Carol Viau EYE CANDY — Craggy Gardens never disappoints — especially when rime-ice coats berries on the mountain ash. This photo was featured as the weather shot one evening last week on WLOS-TV.

As most of you know, my wife and I are huge fans of the Blue Ridge Parkway — especially this time of year. So when family came-a-knockin’ this fall, we were up on the Parkway almost every day — battling the hoards of leaf-peepers at Graveyard Fields and wondering who stole the marker at the Cold Mountain overlook.

Did you know? — It’s a mystery about that sign. There was absolutely no copper in it, so why would anyone steal it?

Rumor has it — authorities believe the sign has been taken to Romania, where (oddly) Cold Mountain, the movie, was filmed.

Back to the Blue Ridge Parkway — where I brought up the rear, following my son, grandson, granddaughter and a 17-year-old Scottish foreign exchange student all the way to the lookout at the top of Waterrock Knob. The hike is marked as ½-mile. They should add the words “straight up.” We all struggled, but the view was worth it.

From one vantage point you can clearly see Ghost Town in the Sky, and with a long lens, I swear I could shoot (at least focus on) one of the gunfighters. (Just kidding)

On Thursday, Oct. 24, we took my sister-in-law and her husband up on the parkway past the Folk Art Center, toward Craggy Gardens. Our timing was perfect, because the night before, Mount Mitchell had its first freeze and dusting of snow. Paraphrasing James Taylor, “The Blue Ridge was dreamlike, on account of that frosting.”

It was the most spectacular scene I have ever witnessed on the parkway.

The canopy of rhodies and mountain ash trees were all covered with thin blanket of ice — rime ice.

Did you know? Rime ice forms when water droplets in clouds or fog freeze to trees and shrubs. The “candy-like coating” forms most often on the windward side of ridge tops, as clouds sweep over the mountains.

Apparently, Craggy Gardens is one of the best places to find rime ice this time of year. The views were spectacular, turn after turn. It was the only time I ever wished I had a dash cam, so I could replay that experience again and again.

I also wish I would have brought my camera equipment.

In the rush to get everyone out of the door, I left it all behind, but fortunately, Carol had her camera and captured many beautiful photos. So beautiful, that WLOS-TV featured her photo of rime ice covering berries on mountain ash last week on its 6 p.m. "See it, Shoot it, Send it" weather shot.

For best viewing of Carol's photos, go to The Mountaineer Web site and look through the gallery. Better yet, visit Craggy Gardens, where you’ll find me quite often in every season.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | Nov 06, 2013 12:42

You know, I bought a weekend home in Waynesville just for the mountain culture and scenery.  I'm sure those that live there full-time sometimes forget how lucky they are -- a tell-tale sign might be that you live in Waynesville and haven't been on the Parkway in more than a year!  I enjoyed your article on a hump-day down here in flat-land.

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