Over the holidays, Matt and I headed down to Burnsville, North Carolina, to spend a little time visiting my parents. They have a beautiful house high in the mountains there, and the views of the Blue Ridge mountains from their living room alone are worth the eleven hour drive from Chicago. We always enjoy the opportunity for some deep rest and relaxation whenever we visit.
There is also a lot to photograph in the western mountains of North Carolina. This area is frequented by black bears in the spring, summer and fall, and there are loads of birds—nuthatches, Carolina wrens, chickadees, yellow-bellied sapsuckers—right out the back door. Colorful butterflies can be found in droves in the summer, and there are waterfalls a plenty throughout the western portion of the state. It is a pleasure to have so many fantastic nature subjects so close at hand.
Another big perk of visiting this area of western North Carolina is the chance to hike with some decent elevation gains and losses. Since Matt and I are going to do some high-altitude hiking again this summer (this time in the Indian Himalaya), we were intent on getting some training in. So when my mother announced she had to run an errand into town, we jumped on the opportunity and hitched a ride with her down to the bottom of the mountain with the goal of hiking the three miles back up to the top. We set out with exercise firmly on the brain, so we left our cameras behind, practically guaranteeing that we were going to see something exciting.