Monday, October 12, 2015

Spectacular Color 2015 In High Knob Massif


October 11, 2015
Elevation 3120 feet
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Mirror-like Reflection of Gorgeous Fall Colors
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Observe how the calm lake surface generated a clear mirror-like image on this high elevation mountain lake.  Ideal for reflecting autumn colors and orographic wave clouds 
forming over the high country.

The High Knob Landform

The High Knob Landform WebCite Permalink

The Appalachian Climate Center

Blue skies and simply spectacular autumn color was on display in upper elevations of the great High Knob Massif during October 11.

October 11, 2015 at 2:48 PM
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Water Movement Line In Color Reflections
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

While conditions were nearly ideal for water reflections, there were occasional breezes strong enough to generate some interesting effects like the water movement line visible in the above photograph.

Note how it is mirror-like along the bank side and more wavy-blurred on this side, before becoming clear again in the foreground.  Within a couple minutes ( below ) the sharp line was nearly gone.

Another aspect that changed conditions were clouds that cast shadows across the mountain and lake in varied amounts over time ( a little effect of this can be seen between these two photos, but I will illustrate it better in later photographs ).

I used a circular polarizing filter with warming effect on my lens which varied the depth of blue in the sky and colors a bit between some shots as I changed position and sky conditions-light changed with time.

October 11, 2015 at 2:50 PM
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Water Movement Line Nearly Gone In 2 Minutes
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Autumn colors were at peak or very near peak in High Knob Lake Basin and in Benges Basin of the Norton Reservoirs.

October 11, 2015
Upper Norton Reservoir
Mirror-like Reflection of Autumn Beauty
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 11, 2015
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Enjoying Majesty At Upper Norton Reservoir
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Reflection of the viewing deck was striking.  No wonder autumn colors stood out so well in the water on this day.

This viewing deck does not magically disappear between these shots, with the one above shooting across the deck and the one below being shot from the deck itself.

October 11, 2015
Shooting From Viewing Deck 18 Minutes Later
Enjoying Majesty At Upper Norton Reservoir
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 11, 2015
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Autumn Majesty At Upper Norton Reservoir
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Increasing clouds began to change 
light and color reflections.

October 11, 2015
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Autumn Majesty At Upper Norton Reservoir
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 11, 2015
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Autumn Majesty At Upper Norton Reservoir
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 11, 2015
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Autumn Majesty At Upper Norton Reservoir
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 11, 2015
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Autumn Majesty At Upper Norton Reservoir
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 11, 2015
Elevation 3120 feet
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Glass-like Reflections On Big Cherry Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

While color had not yet peaked at Big Cherry Lake, like it has at Upper Norton Reservoir, there was still plenty of gorgeous color to reflect upon the glass-like surface of this remote mountain wonder.

The "peak" of color is in the eye of the beholder.  After documenting color here for nearly 30 years I consider peak to be when there is around 20 to 25 percent green left to round out the color palette.

Some trees at highest elevations in the massif are already bare, or are dull.  If one waits until all trees have color to declare peak then the first trees that changed color are either bare of leaves or dull looking.


The color season can be short-lived and abruptly end at highest elevations if strong winds or heavy rains ( even snow in some season ) strike, or temperatures become very cold.  
So get out and enjoy it now.


October 11, 2015
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Glass-like Reflections On Big Cherry Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Color has peaked or is peaking at higher elevations in Big Cherry Lake Basin, but not quite yet around the lake where there is often steam fog
or shallow fog on cold nights in this lofty valley.  By contrast, much green remains in lower to middle elevations of South Fork Gorge
( downstream of Big Cherry Dam ) where fog is frequently heavy.

October 11, 2015
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Glass-like Reflections On Big Cherry Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 11, 2015
Headwaters of South Fork of Powell River
Autumn Wildness of Big Cherry Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 11, 2015
Remnant Massif of High Knob Landform
Autumn Wildness of Big Cherry Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 11, 2015
Headwaters of South Fork of Powell River
Autumn Wildness of Big Cherry Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 11, 2015
Remnant Massif of High Knob Landform
Autumn In Remote Big Cherry Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 11, 2015
High Knob Massif
Autumn Color Near Sunset at Big Cherry Dam
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

There is much green left in this distance slope ( below ) but the approach of sunset cast a reddish hue upon it and enhanced colors reflected in the lake from nice color along the shoreline.  It was simply spectacular, as seen, despite having to shoot through Rhododendrons.

October 11, 2015
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Spectacular Reflections On Big Cherry Near Sunset
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 11, 2015
After Sunshine Had Gone For This Day
Mirror-like Reflections at Big Cherry Dam
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 11, 2015
High Knob Massif
This Section Is Above Cliffs In Next Photo
Upper South Fork of Powell River Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

On October 11 there was the typical and very significant difference in color changes between the lower and upper portions of rugged South Fork Gorge, with color changes increasing along and above the great band of calcareous cliffs.

The calcareous cliffs that ring much of the High Knob Massif mark a climatic change zone with significant gradients in both elevation & conditions amid the vertical along this band.

October 11, 2015
High Knob Massif
Lower South Fork of Powell River Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


October 10, 2015
High Knob Massif
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Autumn In Guest River Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Although lower elevations in gorges of the massif, and Powell Valley, do not yet have near the color of upper elevations the conditions are still beautiful.

October 10, 2015
High Knob Massif
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Autumn In Guest River Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 10, 2015
High Knob Massif
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Autumn In Guest River Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 10, 2015
High Knob Massif
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Autumn In Guest River Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 10, 2015
High Knob Massif
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Autumn In Guest River Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

There is, of course, some nice color developing across the remainder of the mountain area with this beautiful Red Maple ( below ) being taken 
on October 5 in Wise.

October 5, 2015
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Red Maple ( Acer rubrum ) Changes Toward Light
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Red colors come from anthocyanins that are produced in the leaves amid the presence of bright light as the growing season ends.  So it is not atypical to see trees with one side more colorful than the other ( often shaded side ), at least initially, during the color season.

Unlike the carotenoids and xanthophylls that are present in the leaves all along, but masked by chlorophyll during the growing season, the anthocyanins must develop.  

October 15, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Autumn In Mullins Hollow of Dickenson County
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 15, 2015
A Small Wetland In Mullins Hollow
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A small wetland left on a mountain farm that is
a reclaimed strip mine site in Dickenson County.

October 15, 2015
A Small Wetland In Mullins Hollow
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The mixture of American Beech and White Pine gives away that this
is a former strip mine that is now reclaimed and growing vegetation
and trees once again.  Note many of the Tulip-poplars are now bare.

October 15, 2015
American Beech and White Pine
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

October 15, 2015
Dickenson County, Virginia
Color Developing Along Sandstone Cliffs
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

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