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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mountains

Weekly Photo Challenge: Between 02

Between two trees of a different kind….

Where nature and industry collide

Nature and Science….

When thinking about this photo challenge I was drawn to a question, what is the in-between space that can sustain our planet? Where does it exist, and can it be found? And what is the cost of our ignorance; of not knowing how to balance that in-between space with the complexity of our lives on planet Earth? Is the knowledge we seek, in our meditation practice, in the great institutions we build, or in our hopes and dreams? Can it be discovered in our mind’s eye, in the things we believe, or in the progress of science?

In this piece I thought about nature and technology, and how these two sources of energy interact within our lives and with the planet.  How these two vital forces; the organic intelligence of nature and the welded composite structure of modern progress collide. Trees are torn down and in their place the monuments of steel rise to the heavens.  Our ozone dies, we reach the stars; our rivers run black, the cities grow tall.

Nature dies.

The question is where is the balance that sustains?

I wish I knew the answers to these vital questions. Perhaps you and I, your country and mine, can one day without personal or national agenda sit down at the table and discover the answers.

For the sake our planet, it is the only in-between thing we must do….

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Mountains 05

On the Pinnacle Mountain trail, South Carolina

One of my favorite places to hike in South Carolina is the Pinnacle Trail. It is located in the Blue Ridge Foothills. I came across this rock structure on the hike and fell in love with it. It has the stern look of a man grazing out beyond the ridge.

Here is a summary of the trail.

It is six miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2673 feet. It has a rating of strenuous and takes about 4 hours to complete.

The first 0.2 miles is a relatively
flat, paved path that parallels a creek. Small cascades and pools are easily
accessible from the trail. After the pavement ends, follow the trail signs for
the Pinnacle Mtn. trail.

The trail is in fair shape most of the way.
There is significant erosion in a few places and parts of the trail can be quite
muddy.

At about the 2.5 mile mark is the Bald Rock Overlook where you can
look back towards Table Rock Mtn. The summit is marked by a sign and a pile of
rocks but you’re in the middle of a forest with no view. Return the way you came
or continue on the Ridge Trail that connects the Pinnacle Mountain and Table
Rock trails.

This trail is rather remote at times. I was hiking it alone and felt a need to see someone on the trail.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Mountains 04

Mountain biking at Tsali Recreational Area in North Carolina

A photo challenge that includes mountains would not be a challenge without a difficult mountain bike to the summit. In this photograph I have just reached the top of the Right Loop at Tsali Recreational Area in North Carolina. The elevation at this point is around 5000 feet.

The popular Tsali Recreation Area has long been a top destination for mountain biking in Western North Carolina, and even the entire eastern US. Containing nearly 40 miles of trails in a system with four excellent loops, it has been rated as one of the top 10 places to ride in the USA. The area is located on a hilly peninsula reaching into beautiful Fontana Lake, at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains. The four long main trails at Tsali wind along the lake shore and onto the wooded, steep interior ridges. There are several connector trails, gravel roads and extension trails that give a few more options for rides besides the main loops. Three designated overlooks along the trails provide sweeping views of Fontana Lake with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the other side. The trails are fast, hardpacked singletrack, and they’re extremely well designed and well used.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Mountains 03

The rocky edges of Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina

Another classic view of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Mountains 02

Waterrock Knob, North Carolina

Waterrock Knob is a mountain peak in the U.S. state of North Carolina.It is the highest peak in the Plott Balsams and is the 16th highest mountain in the Eastern United States. It is the 15th highest of the 40 mountains in North Carolina over 6000 feet.

The mountain is split by both Haywood and Jackson counties in the western mountains of the state. It is located in the Plott Balsams mountain chain between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Great Balsam Mountains. The mountain’s summit is located within the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park Service unit.

The mountain is a popular destination with tourists and amateur hikers as it is easily accessible from the Parkway. A visitors center is located near its summit and a hiking trail leads to its top. The hiking trail and visitors center are manned and maintained by the National Park Service, part of the United States Department of the Interior.

This photograph was taken during a hike to the summit of the mountain. I love the view here. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a wonderful drive in which to cruise by car or bike.