For a brief moment every day, I bemoan the fact of my lack of time, promising myself the world will wait patiently while I finish my degree; that life happens outside of my understanding and awareness, and that it cares little about whether I’ve posted recently or not.
That said, I do miss writing and snapping new photographs. Engineering classes are taking most of my time – what is spared gets spent with my family.
In an instant, schedules change and I have time to say hello. Here’s what’s on my mind, though images are from years past:
This could have been a very bad day.
I stopped my car at the gate the Chimneys Campground picnic area (it was closed for the winter) with every intention of snagging the shot I’d been envisioning for nearly a month. Camera and tripod in hand, I began slowly ambling down the snow-covered embankment leading from road to stream, mindful of my foot placement to the extent that if I felt something solid underneath the frozen white “blanket”, I put my weight upon it. Though not a terribly steep nor long climb (around 100 feet), it took the better part of twenty minutes to navigate my way to water’s edge. Along the way, the gloves – liners, really - soaked through and subsequently came off as the ambient temperature felt more comfortable to my aching hands.
Arriving at my intended vantage point, I quickly set up shop – I knew there were only moments before my hands, already beet red, became inoperable at which point safety would become an issue. I misjudged my dexterity greatly. What should have been a very quick “snap snap snap” became arduous almost instantly when I finally readied myself to take the first frame – my fingers had nearly frozen, becoming so stiff that to bend them was scarily painful. I managed to set my dials by using the flesh of my thumb and, with no sensory feedback at all coming from its tip, had to resort to visually guiding my outstretched index finger on a severely craned hand to the shutter release. The stream was too loud to hear any sound of the all-t00-often-awkwardly-noisy shutter. Thankfully, preview mode was on and I’d thought to remove my sunglasses in the car lest they be lost in the fluff.
Somehow, this shot emerged of a bridge that nearly a half-billion people have traversed since its construction in 1937.
- West Prong Bridge at Chimneys Campground – one of the many beautiful bridges along highway 441 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
With no noticably modern improvements other than a new roof completed in 2010, Mingus Mill still functions as it was intended, though today mostly for show. Corn and wheat are ground to meal and flour by grist stones powered by the water from this sluce.
- Mingus Mill greets a wintry evening in the same manner it has since since 1886, the grinding of corn and wheat coming to a slow halt at the end of a long day in the Smokies.
My friend Mark and I had planned this hike for weeks, both of us realizing the likelihood of cold temperatures. Neither of us could have predicted two feet of snow would fall the Friday before our jaunt. We ponied up to the challenge and found ourselves in Wonderland. Taken early on in the trip, and with a 4mpx point-and-shoot camera, this scene depicts the starkness of our monochrome world. This, essentially, would be our view for the next three days as we trekked to Walasi-Yi some 22 miles away. Ambient temperatures dropped into the single digits at night and the only water source was beneath our feet for the entire journey. I learned much from that weekend. I’m no winter backpacker.
- Damp trunks don silvery glitter as two feet of snow cover the gap at Unicoi, the Sun setting a vague horizon alight with hopeful warmth that never comes.