words and art by w a l t e r w s m i t h

Go Out and See

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There is so much beauty that surrounds us. It is a beauty
that can bring us joy when we take the time to “Go Out and See”.  This past week, I had the pleasure of being
part of a beautiful day and a challenging bike ride. It provided an opportunity
to see the lovely landscape of farms, rivers and mountains that form parts of
western Haywood County, North Carolina.
It is that time of year when the leaves are coming back as the green
foliage slowly progresses up the mountainside. Winter is being left behind and the
memory of the cold distant mountain is replaced by soft layers of life and
biological growth.

Our journey begins at the town of Crabtree, where we head
west on Riverside Road. Here we bike for several miles next to the Pigeon River
until we reach the town of Riverside. It is here that we start our first
serious mountain ascent. It is approximately 1.5 miles of winding switchback
climbs. Our fast and perilous descent takes us to the town of Panther Creek,
where we begin the long sweeping terrain of hills and straights. Halfway
through our journey we merge onto Fines Creek Rd. In the town of Fines Creek is
the only gas station in more than 15 miles in any direction. We fuel up on
nuts, fluids and protein, and encourage each other for the mammoth climb to come.
One man, who is fueling his tractor,
asks us are we going up the mountain, in which we reply…yep that’s the plan. He
smiles and laughs and says “good luck”. He obviously knows something about the
mountain we don’t. But we know it is a 1.5 mile climb with a 5% gradient. It is
straight up with one or two slight curves. It is intimidating. We start the
climb and there are times when I look up and all I can see is the road horizon
in the sky. There are times when I want to stop, my will in question, my legs
in pain, but realize how difficult it would be to start uphill without momentum.
The descent at speeds nearing 40 mph is
a test of skill and nerve to say the least, but liberating. For nearly 2 miles,
one can only hold on aerodynamically and hope that no unforeseen problems
arise. Finally, after 18 miles, our return to Crabtree is a quick flowing pace
that allows for some reprieve and scenic viewing.

After the bike ride, the best part of the day is the drive
afterwards. We retrace our journey via the car and take photographs. Eighteen of
two hundred have been digitally retouched and included in the slideshow.

So what do we gain when we “Go Out and See”? For me, there
is the liberating feeling of joy that can stay with you a lifetime.  There is also the possibility of discovering things
once unknown in my surroundings and in my soul.

What motivates you to take time out of your busy schedule to
“Get Out and See”? What would you like to discover in nature or local history? What
would it mean, and how would it enrich your life?

Take a moment and think about the last time you made the
extra effort to get out and discover. Let me know what you found.

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8 responses

  1. It has been so long since I’ve gone out and discovered anything, but your photos make me want to plan a trip!

    April 17, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    • Diva….Plan a Trip, you will love it! I lived in Philly and for a while the city was all I knew. But I am now thankful that I took that step to find a new environment in which to discover things anew.

      April 19, 2011 at 5:22 am

  2. I especially liked the photo “small shack along Fines creek” (I think that was the name). It seemed like a lonely place, and the trees around it looked dead. It made for an atmospheric photo.

    April 17, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    • Thanks Ailis, and you know it does convey the emotional context that you discribed. The tree were quite barren, and I wanted to saturate the colors to give a cold sense of place. I wanted each image to convey various feelings of warmth, realisim, distance, otherwordly and journey.

      April 19, 2011 at 5:25 am

  3. These are stunning photographs and you make us feel like we were on the journey with you…. Such gorgeous colors and terrain. Love every bit of it! 🙂
    Eliz

    April 18, 2011 at 10:43 am

    • Thanks Elizabeth, I value your opinion immensely. I wanted my viewers to feel the essence of the journey through various artistic interpretations of the landscape.

      April 19, 2011 at 5:29 am

  4. Ilmana Fasih

    Beautiful pics. Have it on my Facebook wall. Have a look!My FB name: Ilmana Fasih 🙂

    April 18, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    • Thanks Ilmana, I will check out you Facebook wall!!

      April 19, 2011 at 5:30 am

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