Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Windy Day in the Mountains

Three hundred million years.  That's the estimated age of Grandfather Mountain.  At elevations of 6,000 feet, The Grandfather is one of the highest peaks in North Carolina.  The mile-high swinging bridge was built between two of the peaks in 1952 at an elevation of 5,280 feet.

Our daughter and I took a day trip to The Grandfather during her visit last week.  High winds are the norm on the mountain, but the winds that day were fierce.  The abnormally high winds closed the bridge that day, so we paid only half-price for admission.  Truth be told, neither of us wanted to walk across it anyway but we would have enjoyed the view up there.  The bridge was rebuilt in 1999, replacing all the wooden parts.  Locals call it the "Singin' Bridge" because of the sounds made when the wind whistles over and through it.  I recall from my childhood  the creaking sounds the wood made when we walked across the old bridge.  And of course my brother would always jump up and down right next to me.

(Internet photograph with no credit cited)

April is not the prime month for viewing much of the flora on the mountain.  Not much is green and there are no blooming plants or flowers at that time of year.  But Grandfather Mountain area has more plant diversity than in all of Europe.  (At least according to the brochure.)

Admission comes with a CD for a guided auto tour.  My daughter and I laughed when the voice mentioned a meadow we were passing by as a great place to throw a Frisbee.  "You could only throw it once," my daughter said, "and it would fly away."  Yes, the winds were that strong.  It took effort to open the car doors.

It is still winter on the Grandfather

Wonderful rock formations abound

Wildlife habitats offer opportunities to see black bears, otters, cougars, Bald Eagles, and deer.  Unfortunately the otter and cougar areas were closed for maintenance when we went, and we really didn't care to see more deer.  We see too many of them at home.  But we did enjoy the eagle and especially the bears.

 A gorgeous cinnamon Black Bear
She had just been given refreshment

Two Black Bear cubs were wrestling at the far end of the enclosure.

Grandfather Mountain was so named by pioneers who thought the formations looked like the profile of a sleeping old man.  In the following photograph, his forehead and hair are on your left with his bearded chin on the right.

(Photograph from the Internet with no credit available.)

 I grew up in Boone, NC, not far from The Grandfather and we visited often to hike and picnic.  I especially remember trips with my mother to MacRae Meadows for the Singing on the Mount and the Highland Games.  Those were annual mother-daughter days since neither my father nor my brother cared to attend.  It was nice to visit again.


Cheryl said...

Grandfather is wonderful to have lived in that area as a child.
I would NOT want to walk the bridge.....I have a thing about heights, although it has improved over the years, I would give that a miss.

It sounds like you and your daughter had quality time together.....

Vicki Lane said...

I've never been to Grandfather -- and only once up that way when I did a book thing in West Jefferson. I like the memories you have and are making.

Anonymous said...

It looks quite beautiful there. What a wonderful journey.

Arkansas Patti said...

Love NC mountains but no way could I do that bridge even in calm weather.

KB said...

The environment looks remarkably like my area. However, that bridge would not be on my schedule :) It's sounds like you had a fun day!

KGMom said...

Wheee--that must have been a high wind day to close such a bridge. And, I think I quite agree--I would not want to be walking across it on a windy day. My toes would curl!

troutbirder said...

Wow! I could actually see the grandfather. I'm usually terrible at that sort of thing with mountains and clouds....:)

Busy Bee Suz said...

It is a gorgeous area. I remember the 'singing' bridge as a kid and it might be the reason I'm terrified of heights now! The bear is adorable. :)

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Cheryl - Yes, we did have a great time together

Vicki - You do need to visit Grandfather Mountain.

KB - Yes, that area with its rocky peaks does resemble the younger Rockies more than most of our mountains.

Troutbirder - There is also another less-recognized rock formation that some insist is really the face of the Grandfather.

The Bug said...

I remember when we lived in the area we'd take a picnic up on the parkway in the spring & sit & shiver under a blanket - ha! And I was always surprised by the chill. Good thing we kept a blanket in the car!