A note from the photographer

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Snow Hike 2017, Round Bald and Roan Mountain {J. Commons Photography ~ Roan Mountain}

It's been a couple of months since I have posted any photos, but we have still been out hiking nearly every week!  Our hikes are getting longer and more challenging and I am finding my camera to be more of a hindrance and really not my focus (pun not intended) on these hikes.  Since last spring we have consistently hiked and have gained so much knowledge on things we need to improve our hiking journey.  One of those things - POLES!!  I had been on the fence about wanting trekking poles, feeling that they showed weakness while I am getting stronger.  I read an article on LowerGear by a person who held a similar belief and finally gave in and tried a walking stick first.  After seeing its benefit s/he (I want to say it was a man, but I can't remember) moved up to full-fledged trekking poles and hasn't looked back since.  Deanna and I have great husbands who are both 100% endorsing our love for hiking and we both received poles and new backpacks with water bladders for Christmas.   We did a mini hike on New Year's Day around my mountain to break in our poles and try to fit our packs.  It didn't take me long to see the benefit in having poles!  They were awesome!  I couldn't wait to get them out on a real hike!!

This past weekend we were blessed with our first snow of the winter.  I LOVE SNOW and immediately was dreaming of being up on Roan Mountain and taking in the snow views and frozen creek.  Tuesday, Deanna and I headed up to Carver's Gap to hike Round Bald.  I was a little anxious about driving up there (still reliving my last unsuccessful snow trek up to Carver's Gap), but the roads were magically clear all the way to the top!!  We had dressed warmly (or so we thought), but we underestimated the wind!  In the parking lot it was 29* and already quite windy!

I found on the way up that I had a fierce determination to get to the top and I was climbing faster with the help of my poles, but the cold air was giving me quite a stitch in my side! If you haven't hiked Round Bald, the first half of the climb to the top is mostly through a Spruce Pine forest.  That part of the hike was cold, but not unbearable.  When we stepped into the open it was quickly apparent we were not prepared for this level of battering!  The wind was so strong and just a continuous, sustained wind.  If I had to guess, I'd say at least 25-30 mph.  It was literally blowing us sideways.  Deanna had on a hat and two hoods.  I didn't have any head covering.  My head started hurting and burning.  Thankfully, Dee shared her hat and saved me from frostbite!  A lot of my pictures didn't turn out because of the conditions, but here's a few.

I love how the mountains look outlined by their trees.

The wind was blowing Deanna's poles like that!

On the side of the pines facing the bone chilling wind frost had developed.  It was ghostly and beautiful.  

This photo looks like a painting to me.  I love it!

Our path leading back into the shelter of the spruce pines.

The ice formations along the road were amazing.

A frozen Doe River.

Deanna along the Riverside Trail.

We attempted to do this two mile loop.  It was very pretty and had ups and downs, straight through the forest, and really represented what I expected from a snow hike.  About halfway or so, I realized I had lost my lens cap.  Instead of finishing the loop we had to back track in hopes of finding the cap.  We found it almost at the beginning of the loop!  Oh well, we will trek it again!

Some people might think we are crazy for hiking in the cold, snow, and wind, but it was invigorating!  We can't wait to get back out there through the winter, but the next few weeks look more like Spring!

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