Thursday, October 16, 2014

Color Peak 2014 & Whitewater ROARS


October 15, 2014
Looking SW from High Knob
High Country of High Knob Massif
Big Cherry Basin & Powell Mountain Block
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

This photograph has a tremendous amount of detail as it looks across the high country of the High Knob Massif to the southwest of the main peak.  All the photographs taken in this section were from the area north and east of the peak, illustrating that only a small part of the massif was covered during this photographic journey.

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While highest, exposed crestlines have taken a pounding in recent days, there remains a bounty of gorgeous color amid the sprawling expanse of the High Knob Massif.

Tucked away amid high valleys, and along more protected ridges, remains eye-popping colors!

This was the case on October 15, immediately following the most recent storm ( full effects of such a rain-wind event can sometimes become more apparent 2-3 days later ).

Let's break this tour down to sections.


Legion Park
City of Norton

October 15, 2014
Amid Northern Base of High Knob Massif
Large Cliffs At City of Norton's Legion Park
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Observe Yellow Birch ( Betula alleghaniensis ), 
on left side of photograph, are growing here at around 2350 feet above sea level.

Veery Thurshes ( Catharus fuscescens ) can
also be heard amid this drainage in summer.

October 15, 2014 at 1:35 PM
Amid Northern Base of High Knob Massif
Large Cliffs At City of Norton's Legion Park

Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Water was simply gushing out of the massif by Legion Park and would be a sign of things to 
come on this journey!

October 15, 2014
Above Legion Park Along State Route 619
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.


Upper Norton Reservoir
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif

October 15, 2014
Water Elevation 3318 feet
In The Cove Of Benges Basin
Upper Norton Reservoir - City of Norton
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

While much color has gone, much also remained 
at the City of Norton's beautiful Upper Reservoir nestled amid the lofty Benges Basin on northern slopes of the massif.

October 15, 2014 at 2:17 PM
In The Cove Of Benges Basin
Upper Norton Reservoir - City of Norton
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

One of my favorite aspects of these high mountain lakes are their reflective nature which is simply outstanding during autumn ( especially on calm days, which have been rare this October ).

October 15, 2014
In The Cove Of Benges Basin
Autumn Reflections In Upper Norton Reservoir
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
In The Cove Of Benges Basin
Autumn Reflections In Upper Norton Reservoir
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Slopes below rise to a peak that will be visible 
from High Knob in a couple of later photographs.

October 15, 2014
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Southern Slopes Above Upper Norton Reservoir
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.


The High-Eagle Crest Zone
Summit Level of High Knob Massif

Conditions changed upon climbing to the main crest where many trees were either bare, nearly bare, or browned by recent wind driven rains.

October 15, 2014
Autumn Color Peak Has Gone With The Wind
Wind Blasted Summit Around High Knob Lookout
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

It looked like winter-time around the 
Parking area for the High Knob Lookout.

October 15, 2014
Looking Across Little Stone Mountain
View From Summit Level Of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

The weather on October 15 was raw and windy during the afternoon with sprinkles of rain mixed with occasional peeps of sunlight that would illuminate distant portions of the high country.

October 15, 2014
Looking To Little Mountain & Big Cherry Basin
View From Summit Level Of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Looking Across Grindstone Ridge Dome
View From Summit Level Of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Conditions on this day were such that visitors to the Lookout wasted little time admiring these magnificent views.

October 15, 2014
High Knob Massif - Black Mountain Corridor
View From Summit Level Of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Rain drops on my camera lens!

October 15, 2014
Looking SW Across Big Cherry & Powell Mountain
View From Summit Level Of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Looking E-SE Toward Osborne Ridge
View From Summit Level Of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

The long crest of Clinch Mountain ( Brumley on far left ) and the
twin peaks of Mount Rogers & Whitetop are visible in the distance.

Temperatures were only in the low 40s 
and gusty winds made it feel more like 30s.

October 15, 2014
Looking Down Upon Benges Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Using a 300mm telephoto lens to zoom down 
to the basin holding the dual Norton Reservoirs.

October 15, 2014
Zooming Into Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Reservoirs for the City of Norton rest in the cove hidden between
this distant peak and the peaks of High Knob and Eagle Knob.


Closed For The Season
High Knob Lake Basin

With Autumn Color winding down the basin of High Knob Lake, and its Recreation Area, is now officially closed for the long cold season ahead.  The exception, of course, hikers and horse back riders along the Chief Benge Scout Trail can still follow it across the basin. 

October 15, 2014
High Knob Lake Basin of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.


Autumn Treasures Hidden
In The Back Country

Heading east from High Knob Lake Basin, where the hard top ENDS, were autumn treasures galore!

October 15, 2014
Between Eagle Knob and High Chaparral
Autumn Treasures In The Back Country
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Between Eagle Knob and High Chaparral
Autumn Treasures In The Back Country
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Between Eagle Knob and High Chaparral
Autumn Treasures In The Back Country

Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Between Eagle Knob and High Chaparral
Autumn Treasures In The Back Country
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Between Eagle Knob and High Chaparral
Autumn Treasures In The Back Country
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Between Eagle Knob and High Chaparral
Autumn Treasures In The Back Country
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Between Eagle Knob and High Chaparral
Autumn Treasures In The Back Country
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Between Eagle Knob and High Chaparral
Autumn Treasures In The Back Country
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Between Eagle Knob and High Chaparral
Autumn Treasures In The Back Country
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.


Autumn Color Peak
Bark Camp Lake Basin

October 15, 2014
Gorgeous Colors Along State Route 822
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Water Elevation 2734 feet
Bark Camp Lake of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Telephoto Shot Of Distant Lake Shore
Bark Camp Lake of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.


Beauty Amid Little Stony
Little Stony Creek Valley

While I knew the massif held sections of spectacular color, as the GLOW was visible from Wise, one of the most surprising finds was the sheer beauty found along the Little Stony Creek Valley into upper portions of Little Stony Gorge.

October 15, 2014
Little Stony Basin of High Knob Massif
Along The Valley Of Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Little Stony Basin of High Knob Massif
Along The Valley Of Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.


Whitewater ROARS
Little Stony Gorge

While a pleasant roar of churning whitewater could be heard all along the Little Stony Creek Valley it became LOUD in a pounding way upon reaching the Upper Falls in Little Stony Gorge.

All these steep creeks draining the High Knob Massif were gushing with the stream gauge on Big Stony Creek, draining High Knob Lake Basin, showing that it peaked only 19" below flood stage.

October 15, 2014
Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif
Rugged Autumn Majesty In Little Stony Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif
Rugged Autumn Majesty In Little Stony Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif
Rugged Autumn Majesty In Little Stony Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif
Rugged Autumn Majesty In Little Stony Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

This whitewater was certainly no surprise given 
the 7.50" to 8.50"+ of October rainfall reported through mid-month from Big Cherry Lake across the massif into headwaters of Bark Camp Lake 
and the Little Stony Creek basin.

Wetter sections here having 55.00" to 65.00"
of total precipitation so far this year.

October 15, 2014
Little Stony Creek Gorge of High Knob Massif
Whitewater ROARS In Wake Of Wet October
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Little Stony Basin of High Knob Massif
Upper Falls Of Little Stony Creek Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
High Knob Massif
Majesty Along Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

I love the flow lines of whitewater and
its wildly chaotic, churning nature.

October 15, 2014
Little Stony Basin of High Knob Massif
ROARING Whitewater In Little Stony Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

October 15, 2014
Little Stony Basin of High Knob Massif
ROARING Whitewater In Little Stony Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

The water volume on Little Stony Creek had been significantly more before these shots were taken, 
as indicated by debris and wetness marking the former water level.

October 15, 2014
Little Stony Basin of High Knob Massif
ROARING Whitewater In Little Stony Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

It was around 6:30 PM when this photograph was shot.  My ISO was 800 and the picture starting to show grain.  Time to leave while there was still enough light to reach the truck!

Unfortunately there was not enough time
nor light to do the Big Falls on downstream.
At least, not enough to give it proper respect!

October 15, 2014 at 6:29 PM
Little Stony Basin of High Knob Massif
ROARING Whitewater In Little Stony Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

It had been a long but productive day.  A hard day.  Now I know that Rod, Bill, Wayne & Genevie R., Harold, Richard, and all my photographer friends, have put in significant work over many years.  
It certainly is not just fun and games!

NOTE On Viewing Photographs
Chrome, Firefox, and Safari will all 
load this page but my Explorer will not.

As I have long known, a cloudy day ( as long as clouds are not obscuring the mountains & trees ) 
is the BEST day to photograph autumn color.  The exception, those cobalt-azure blue skies are hard to beat for some shots.

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