On November 7, 2014 I witnessed a special sunrise on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville near the Bad Fork Valley Overlook. The Bad Fork Valley Overlook is one of my favorite spots on the Parkway. Bad Fork has magnificent views to the south and west. There is a great view of Mt. Pisgah and it does a great job of showing off the undulating ridge lines that make up the local terrain. Considering the sun rises in the east I usually don't choose this spot to photograph sunrises. However, on this particular morning I took a gamble on catching some color here and it paid off.
I had a photo shoot appointment at the Pisgah Inn that morning and my original plan was to make it there for sunrise. The Pisgah Inn has vast views to the east and makes for a perfect spot to photograph sunrises. They have hired me for some photography work which I am very excited about. I made a complete rookie error by not checking the real time road closures on the Parkway that morning before I left my house. Mother Nature was providing one of the first cold snaps of the winter and it never entered my mind that there might be some closed sections on the Parkway. The main part of the Parkway that I explore and do most of my shooting is between the Highway 191 entrance south of Asheville to Graveyard Fields. I know this stretch intimately. Much of it is above 4000 feet elevation and there are many tunnels. The tunnels hold more ice which makes this section more likely to stay closed during winter.
I hopped on at the Highway 191 entrance around 5:30 am and was on my merry way toward the Pisgah Inn which is usually about 40 minutes from my house. The sun was due to rise around 7:10 am which left me plenty of time to get to the Pisgah Inn. The weather called for partly cloudy skies. However, you never really know what you are going to get for weather at higher elevations. I made it a little past the Pine Mountain Tunnel only a few miles into my route and saw the "Parkway closed in 1000 feet sign". My heart dropped. This meant I was not going to be able to make it to the Pisgah Inn for the sunrise. It also meant I was going to have to go all the way back up to Highway 191 to Highway 280 all the way to Brevard and then from there up Highway 276 up to the Parkway. In total at least 1.5 hours and Highway 276 is a long windy uphill drive. But hey... when life gives you lemons the best thing to do is make lemonade. I decided to hang out just past the Pine Mountain Tunnel. I had a great view of the Bad Fork Valley. I knew I would not have an actual view of the sun but I saw some cool clouds developing and hoped for the best. Cool clouds usually mean cool photography or they at least increase your odds of cool photography.
What happened next was simply magical. I have witnessed many spectacular sunrises but never one with these color combinations.
After being completely mesmerized by this beauty I then headed back up the Parkway so I could make my appointment at the Pisgah Inn. I captured these images along the way.
Hope you enjoyed these photos! I was happy that I made the best out of a situation that did not start out ideal. That's life right?