Sunday, November 29, 2015

Whitewater Gushes Out of High Knob Massif


South Fork Gorge
Afternoon of December 3, 2015
Whitewater Gushes Out of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Note some sediment in the flow which only occurs on this steep creek when whitewater gushes from the pristine 
basin of lofty Big Cherry Lake.

Whitewater was ROARING as it continued to gush out of the High Knob Massif during December 3, following peak flow some 30-hours earlier.



The Appalachian Climate Center

December 3, 2015
Town of Big Stone Gap Watershed
Afternoon Majesty at Big Cherry Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Big Cherry Lake Dam
Monthly Precipitation Totals
Observer: Gary Hampton
Water Elevation 3120 feet

2015

January: 2.87"

February: 8.07"

March: 8.13"

April: 6.13"

May: 1.51"

June: 5.73"

July: 9.26"

August: 3.70"

September: 6.06"

October: 7.21"

November: 4.81"

December 1-3: 2.20"

June-August: 18.69"
( Average Per Month: 6.23" )

September-November: 18.08"
( Average Per Month: 6.03" )

2015 Total: 65.68" ( M )
( January 1 to December 3 )

84-Month Average Per Month: 6.00"
( December 2008 to November 30, 2015 )

( M ) - Indicates missing data due to evaporation between
hand-measurements throughout the year and from losses in
deep snowfall during the cold season.

Big Cherry Dam - Lake Level Graph

The lake level at Big Cherry rose by 
3.6 vertical feet to overflow the spillway.

Big Stony Creek, which flows out of High Knob Lake basin, crested just above flood stage 
during this event.

Stream Gauge Graph
Big Stony Creek of High Knob Massif

Big Stony Creek flows out of the massif to the east and southeast of South Fork of the Powell River and is often 
also a good indicator of flow volume on this steep creek.


December 3, 2015
Town of Big Stone Gap Watershed
Afternoon Majesty at Big Cherry Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

It was breezy and chilly at the Lake on December 3, 
prior to a cold night that dropped deeply into the 
10s despite a lack of any snow cover.

December 3, 2015
Town of Big Stone Gap Watershed
Afternoon Majesty at Big Cherry Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Big Cherry Lake gained more than 150 Million gallons of water during the recent rain event, with this watershed for the Town of Big Stone Gap 
( and surrounding communities ) being pristine.

It should always be this way for future generations.  This is a great and wondrous treasure that must be protected as part of the wettest area in Virginia and a national biodiversity hotspot.

South Fork Gorge
Afternoon of December 3, 2015
Whitewater Gushes Out of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

While many polypore mushrooms can be seen along the 
log lying in front of this waterfall, note a tiny mushroom growing on top of an interesting stump in front of this waterfall ( seen below my copyright label ).  Amazing!

South Fork Gorge
Afternoon of December 3, 2015
Whitewater Gushes Out of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

South Fork Gorge
Afternoon of December 3, 2015
Whitewater Gushes Out of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This is a very dynamic setting with turbulence dominating the flow.  Enough sediment being picked up along the plunge ( 1433 vertical feet 
in 4 miles ) to add beauty and contrast to the whitewater of this Class V+ steep creek.

South Fork Gorge
Afternoon of December 3, 2015
Whitewater Gushes Out of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

South Fork Gorge
Afternoon of December 3, 2015
Whitewater Gushes Out of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

At this time of year the sun sets by early afternoon 
( 1 to 2 PM ) amid the bottom of South Fork Gorge, as it slips behind the local mountain horizon to shade this deep chasm.

With mountain slopes above still illuminated by sun, 
some light is cast downward into the gorge as many 
of these photographs reflect.  A great time to shoot.

December 3, 2015
High Knob Massif
South Fork of Powell River Gorge
Beautiful Light & Sediment Add To Majesty
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2015
High Knob Massif
South Fork of Powell River Gorge
Beautiful Light & Sediment Add To Majesty
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2015
High Knob Massif
South Fork of Powell River Gorge
Beautiful Light & Sediment Add To Majesty
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Afternoon of December 3, 2015
South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Majestic Flow Lines In Fast Whitewater
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2015
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Rugged Terrain In South Fork Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2015
Upper South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Approaching Sunset Amid The High Country
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

November 28, 2015
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Pre-Storm Water Reflections of Late Autumn
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This is part of the famed country of Big Cherry Holler, now made nationally famous by the recent Big Stone Gap movie release based upon novels by Adriana Trigiani.

Sprinkles during late afternoon on November 28 gave way to light rain and drizzle in advance of a significant late autumn storm system and rainfall event expected to close November and open up the first month of meteorological winter.

Although a few wave clouds were visible above Big Cherry Lake the main orographic forcing was not expected to develop until the November 30 to December 1 period when enhanced, heavy upslope rainfall amounts were expect across the
high country surrounding High Knob.

November 28, 2015
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Pre-Storm Water Reflection of Late Autumn
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Mountain wave clouds and water reflections.

November 28, 2015
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Pre-Storm Water Reflection of Late Autumn
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Several folks were getting in some late season fishing before Big Cherry Lake closes for the winter on December 1 ( gates will be locked ).

November 28, 2015
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Pre-Storm Water Reflection of Late Autumn
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Whitewater draining this lofty basin was making 
its typically gorgeous sound as it tumbled through wild upper sections of South Fork of Powell River Gorge, even though it was nothing like it will be in coming days ( following hefty rains )!

November 28, 2015
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Town of Big Stone Gap Watershed
Wild & Rugged - Upper South Fork Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Natural Tunnel State Park
Unique Among Parks In The USA

Amid the shadow of the great High Knob Massif rests one of Virginia's, and the nation's, most unique state parks.

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park in Scott County VA
Rugged & Majestic Lovers Leap Rock Formation
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Dolomite and limestone form great cliffs and The Natural Tunnel in this beautiful and biologically diverse state Park 
of the Upper Tennessee River Basin.

Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan once called Natural Tunnel the "Eighth Wonder of the World," and with good reason if you have ever seen this gem of far southwestern Virginia.

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park
Rugged & Majestic Lovers Leap Rock Formation
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Perhaps the best kept secret of Natural Tunnel State Park is Megan Krager, education specialist supreme, who gave a 5-hour tour of the park to class members of the High Knob Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalist's.

December 5, 2015
Decorated For The Christmas Season
Frosty Cold Conditions Greet The Morning
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

I do not know how much Natural Tunnel State Park
is paying this talented woman, but it is not enough!

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park Chair Lift
Frosty Cold Conditions Greet The Morning
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The centerpiece of this Park, of course, is the extraordinary Natural Tunnel which essentially stands today as a very large, exposed cave conduit through which occasionally runs a train.

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park in Scott County Virginia
Mossy & Shaded South Portal of The Natural Tunnel
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Although one typically thinks of moss growing 
upon northern exposed objects, the spectacular Amphitheater of towering rock surrounding the South Portal of this great Natural Tunnel possesses a micoclimate that is atypical, with limited sunlight, for such an exposure.

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park in Scott County Virginia
Looking Up At Amphitheater of The Natural Tunnel
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Megan suggested we look straight up to obtain a feel for this awesome semi-circle of rock that forms a great horseshoe around the South Portal of 
The Natural Tunnel.

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park in Scott County Virginia
Looking Up At Amphitheater of The Natural Tunnel
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Approximately 400 vertical feet of dolostone and limestone rock form this amazing amphitheater 
of nature.

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park in Scott County Virginia
Looking Up At Amphitheater of The Natural Tunnel
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A detailed description of its history and formation can be found in Natural Tunnel: Nature's Marvel In Stone by geologist Tony Scales.

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park
Rapids of Stock Creek of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Whitewater rapids of Stock Creek, which heads in high country north of Natural Tunnel State Park, amid the High Knob Massif, added sound and beauty to this visit and played a critical role over time in formation of this grand wonder of nature.

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park
Rapids of Stock Creek of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Natural Tunnel State Park has a long, interesting history and many attractions including Wild Cave Tours, Kayaking, Canoeing, and Snorkeling on 
the biologically diverse Clinch River, Hayrides, a beautiful Christmas Season Lights Display, and many sites spanning the range of time from the historic Carter Cabin and Anderson Blockhouse 
to luxurious visitor Cabins and the 
lovely Cove Ridge Center.

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park
The Historic Carter Cabin from Rye Cove
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This home is believed to have originally been built before 
1784 amid the Carter Fort House in nearby Rye Cove, and 
later moved by Joseph Carter to the Carter Town section of Rye Cove ( the largest karst cove in Virginia ).

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park
Restored Narrow Gauge Steam Engine 66
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Natural Tunnel State Park is, of course, a prime destination for train buffs of all ages!

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park
Part Of The Beautiful Cove Ridge Center
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

What does a photographer notice first in this picture?  
The reflections of sky and trees, naturally, in the windows!

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park
Inside The Spectacular Cove Ridge Center
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The present Cove Ridge Center, having been rebuilt following a disastrous fire some years ago, is simply spectacular and a must see for visitors to the Park.

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park
Classic Canoe On Wall of Cove Ridge Center
 Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 5, 2015
Cove Ridge Center In Natural Tunnel State Park
North American BeaverCastor canadensis )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Although this beaver has seen his better days, as Megan noted, it is an interesting feature of the Cove Ridge Center.

Cove Ridge Center
Natural Tunnel State Park
Eastern CoyoteCanis latrans )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park
Replica of Historic Anderson Blockhouse
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The Anderson Blockhouse was originally built 
in 1775 amid the East Carters Valley section of Scott County ( near Wadlow Gap ) by 
Captain John Anderson.

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park
Replica of Historic Anderson Blockhouse
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The Virginia Master Naturalist Class, led by 
John Gilliam, greatly enjoyed visiting this historic blockhouse and the presentation given by Megan Krager who is truly an outstanding representative of Natural Tunnel State Park.

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park
Replica of Historic Anderson Blockhouse
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

John Anderson designed the original blockhouse, as Megan described well, for protection of those who sought its refuge from Indian attacks.  Going so far as to offset the upper story and to build the chimney inside this structure in order to make it more difficult for attackers to penetrate.

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park
Replica of Historic Anderson Blockhouse
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This was a favorite stop for me since Cove Ridge offers a very nice and rather rare view of the long southern & southeastern expanse of the High Knob Massif, spreading outward across the horizon beyond the large Rye Cove karst basin.

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park
Rustic Scene Atop Cove Ride At Blockhouse
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Communication Towers on Eagle Knob, at near 4200 feet, can be seen toward right side of the above photograph along the farthest crestline visible.

December 5, 2015
Horizon With Terrain Feature Labels
Looking Across Rye Cove To High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This is part of the Clinch Valley-Knobs region, 
a 500 square mile section that runs from the area of Natural Tunnel State Park northeast along flanks of the High Knob Massif to The Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve ( i.e., Scott & Russell counties ) that contains among the most diverse and richest flora in Virginia ( with many rare plant species ).

The area from Natural Tunnel State Park and The Sinks 
in Scott County northeast along the Hunter Valley section adjoining the High Knob Massif also contains among the most spectacular surface karst in Virginia ( and the 
oldest rock stratas in and adjoining the massif ).

December 5, 2015
Amid The Heart Of Eastern USA Biodiversity
Looking Across Rye Cove To High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

As John Gilliam already said, the VMN Class thanks Megan Krager and Natural Tunnel State Park for a great tour and visit to one of Virginia's most outstanding wonders of nature.

December 5, 2015
Natural Tunnel State Park
Replica of Historic Anderson Blockhouse
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

For more information reference:

Natural Tunnel State Park

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