Beauty in Every Season

I got together yesterday for a group hike with some high school friends. Four of us made it (plus the dog), which wasn’t a bad showing for such short notice. Of course, a few years have passed since we’ve passed one another in those hallowed high school hallways. Somewhere along the way, we entered another season in our lives. But just as all seasons come with a purpose, we should be purposeful in how we live out each one.

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One day we’ll be in our winter years (if all goes well). Winter’s all too often known for its drabness, its barrenness, its lonely appearance. All too many people live their winter years out like that too, bundled away with no desire to be hit by a little fresh air. That’s part of the reason for the hiking/outdoor high school club venture – to prepare for that cold snap before it arrives – by surrounding ourselves with the warmth of friends. All that being said…

Yesterday’s fun challenge (besides being able to make the 7-mile hike – especially without getting lost, as we were exploring a couple of unknown trails on a system), was to find something beautiful to share on our winter hike. 

My hiking colleagues outdid themselves in sharing many lovely things about themselves along the way. But I thought I’d show you just a couple of the beautiful images that we captured on camera to share with others.

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Photography 101: Treasure

The Daily Post asked today:

What’s your treasure? Perhaps you found a coat at the thrift store like the one your grandfather wore, or took a once-in-a-lifetime trip through the Himalaya. Maybe you treasure your children, or your cat, or a quiet space in the woods. Show us an image that represents a treasure to you.

Tip: Get close to your subject — either use the zoom function in your camera, if it has one, or physically move closer to it.


I treasure being outdoors, especially on a crisp, fall day.

This weekend, I went hiking around the Ocoee River, where the 1996 Centennial whitewater events were held. I treasure the Ocoee River – but its levels are down for the winter. I treasure the time spent talking with a companion as I hike – but my faithful companion, my Weimaraner, could only wag his tail back. So I took a little time to treasure the details more closely than I might have otherwise done during my times there before.

559632_10152586413233227_845888608632364385_nI’ve always liked the bridge that crosses the Middle Ocoee section, but this is the first time I’ve ever studied the construction of its sign’s suspension. I liked my zoomed angle of the suspension cables highlighted by the signage.

A full side view of the bridge taken in early Spring.

The last time I hiked up o15901_10152586413238227_7195704398622400204_nnto the ridge that overlooks the river, I took a picture of this empty bench. On this trip, I took time to notice that it wasn’t empty at all. It was holding many people’s memories, in fact, of when they’d sat here, treasuring their time in this place.

A passing view of the seemingly empty bench, taken in early Spring.

Surely seeing the world through a different set of lenses (or sometimes just a different perspective) makes it a more interesting & lovely place.

Now there’s a thought to treasure…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

In response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge for HORIZON, I’m going to post some of the memories still within reach to capture on my brain’s horizon.

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View from the cliffs summit at Mount LeConte (access point: Gatlinburg, TN)

24 watching the weather change

View of cloud cover from the Bullhead descent from Mount LeConte

Sunset at the Marina

Sunset at the Marina

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October morning view of the Gulf of Mexico

Blue Ridge Mountains

Blue Ridge Mountains

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My son’s first trip to state this year with a “championship horizon” view

up from the plains

Yei, Sudan area horizon view – from the plains to the mountains

the village rises with her

The village rises, as does the sun on the South Sudan horizon

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paddling towards the horizon

FIRE IN THE FOG: Morning sunrise view on a foggy day

FIRE IN THE FOG: Morning sunrise view on a foggy day

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an upward horizon from the Sea of Galilee

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casting towards the horizon

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Morning Sunrise View from Front Porch Nook

Morning Sunrise View from Front Porch Nook

Ese’s Shoot & Quote Challenge: My Outdoor Appalachian Obsession

The lovely Ese has issued another Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge:

Prompt 10 – OBSESSION

I only have one obsession – not to be boring. -M.Hazanavicius

Were I to re-quote this in my own words, I might possibly say, “I only have one obsession…not to be bored!” Haha!

And I never find the beauty in my part of the world boring. I love my mountains especially, and am blessed to have them stretching out before me from the time I’m stretching out of bed in the morning. To climb to the top of one of them is like reaching for a tiny piece of my own personal heaven. No, they’re not the sharp peaks found in other parts of the world or even other parts of my country. You can have your sharp, treacherous high sky rises. I’ll continue to be respectful of my elderly mountains – the rolling Appalachians, patiently meandering along the border of my world in an ever-inviting southern fashion.

Yesterday, I hiked to one of the highest summits we have, named Mount LeConte. It’s always amazing to me how different the experience, depending on the trail(s) selected and the time of year. This being October, it was crisp and cool and colorful. My last trip up was in January, where we ran into 12-18″ of snow as we ascended, along with a miserable, cutting wind and no visualization (and a need to reroute quickly via the cables down the icy Alum Cave trail, due to a nasty unanticipated snowstorm). Not so yesterday. The view was spectacular – at least until the Smokies decided they needed to live up to their name once more. We came out about an hour and a half after sunset this time, simply because I couldn’t bear to leave the summit once we’d arrived, knowing I wouldn’t be back for another fabulous fall season for at least another year.

Travel Theme: Going with the FLOW

Ailsa at Wheresmybackpack has put up a travel theme challenge on FLOW.

I spent last week away from work, going with the FLOW. One of those places was at Linville Falls

As much as I am a whitewater enthusiast, I enjoyed this flow from the bank and from overlooks through my lens, though.

As beautiful as these falls are, they don’t necessarily have the kindest historical reputation, being known as an execution site used by Native Americans because of the associated danger. Even the smaller upper falls are dangerous because of the churning rapids that lie just beneath them and that will ultimately pull a “swimmer” down into the gap between the levels of falls. If you were to survive those churning hydraulics pulling you under in the “in between,” even if they spit you out, the sharp turns that would bang you into the oncoming rocks would likely leave you never knowing you had gone over the greater fall beneath.

One kayaker has been recorded making this run and surviving, that I know of to date. (Did I also mention it would be illegal for you to try this?)

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One of the upper pair of falls

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The other of the upper pair of falls

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Flowing from the upper pool towards the lower pool – don’t miss the higher water lines that have shaped the outcroppings over the centuries

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The upper pool with its pair of falls

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Churning drop in the “in between”

feeding the lower fall

Feeding the lower fall

A bird's eye view of Linville Falls

A bird’s eye view of Linville Falls