Grandfather Mountain Nature Photography Weekend
Grandfather Mountain State Park
Avery County, NC
Day 2b - Saturday, June 4th, 2011
(after photo contest submission)
It sure felt good to get my photos submitted into the contest and knowing that the pressure was now off!
I had a few hours to kill so I decided to hike one of my favorite trails! The Grandfather Trail starts from the same parking area as the Mile Hike Swinging Bridge which was packed with people during this beautiful sunny day. Temperatures were about 80 degrees which is pretty much as hot as it gets at the top of Grandfather Mountain.
The Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain
The last few times I hiked this trail have been in the fog, so this would be the first time in many years that I would actually be able to enjoy the views along this spectacular trail.
View from the Grandfather Trail
This trail is sometimes called the "Chutes and Ladders" trail for obvious reasons! There are many very steep sections of trails where ladders are used to help the climb. They might take a bit away from a true wilderness experience, but for me they are a lot of fun. Plus many spots would not be safe without them.
Many Ladders along the Grandfather Trail
It is only about a mile to the summit of McCrae Peak, but that mile took me about an hour which goes to show how difficult this trail is.
View from McCrae Peak
I hiked a short ways past McCrae Peak and returned to the parking area via the Underwood Trail to form a little Lollipop Loop hike. The Underwood Trail is much easier, but bypasses much of the spectacular scenery.
View from the Grandfather Trail
After my hike, I had a little bit of time before the Buffet Dinner, so I went for another visit to the Animal Habitats. I saw the Otters for the first time all weekend and have come to the conclusion that Otters are really cute animals and very fun to watch and photograph!
I could have cropped it out, but I kind of like the effect that the camera on the right side gives
This year the Grandfather Mountain Nature Photography Weekend cost $115.00 per participant. This includes park admission from Friday @ 3:00pm through all day Sunday, (2) Nights Camping, entrance to the auditorium for all the presentations, a CD for entering into the photo contest, and the Saturday Evening Buffet Dinner.
Dinner consisted of Fried Chicken, Baked Chicken, Pork BBQ, Corn, Green Beans, Dinner Rolls, Iced Tea, and a selection of Desserts. Everything was very good and I definitely did not walk away hungry!
After dinner I made another visit to the Animal Habitats before the first presenter of the evening; Bill Lea. An excellent and very informative presentation with some absolutely amazing photography.
Again, I skipped the final presenter of the evening because I really wanted to be up on the mountain for sunset. My one complaint about the whole weekend was the scheduling of the presentations. I think they should end earlier in the day. The empty time between the 3:00pm submitting of the photos and the 5:30pm Buffet Dinner would have been the perfect time for a presentation or two.
Instead of heading all the way to the top for sunset, I decided on the Cliffside Overlook which is another great place to view a sunset. I definitely was not the only one who elected to skip the final presentation of the day!
Sunset from the Cliffside Overlook
Later that evening, the stars started appearing and it was another great night sky! About (10) of us ended up hanging out a clearing just down the road from the camping area to photograph the night sky!
Starry Sky Above Grandfather Mountain
(click for full size view)
Back at our campsite I built an impromptu campfire made from a gathering of downed tree limbs. Hanging out with friends around a campfire is always a very enjoyable end to any day!
Dave, Joe, and Me hanging out around the campfire
My full set of photos (edited down to a reasonable number) is located here:
Slide Show Format: