The weather has been ahead of schedule this year. Tornados and warm weather in March and dry conditions for the past several weeks made for premature conditions for the annual Rhododendron Festival at Roan Mountain.

We haven’t had any rain lately and last Saturday was particularly overcast when I left Kingsport for the mountains. The haze didn’t matter that much either way because the wind and silence of this East Tennessee vista is always something that inspires me and calms a restless mind.

There were plenty of people at Carver’s Gap when I arrived late in the afternoon. It was obvious that most of the blooms had passed too when I started up the first bald mountain at Grassy Bald.

Carrying a backpack with the Nikon D7000 and a few lenses, the trip was part therapy and part camera experiments as I wanted to play with aperture settings along the way. The partial clouds and cooler temperatures were welcome though and within a short time, I had hiked a couple of miles over to Round Bald to look back on the vista along the Tennessee and North Carolina border.

As often happens, it didn’t take long for a large cumulus cloud to overtake the surroundings. Amid the silent theatre the grey foggy shapes started to consume the wild azaleas in bloom and block out the sunlight. Luckily though (this time) there was no rain.

I still hope to camp on this location one day. On the way back I was shooting photos on the Tennessee side as the clouds began to break and a lone camper was in a lotus position facing the sun with his small campsite visible on Jane Bald.

As I made my way back to the highway, a strange sound interrupted the silent breeze. A hiker was playing a trombone (quite well) and the notes echoed throughout the valley.

Just before I got back into the Jeep, I ran into a musician friend as Phil Leonard from Johnson City was enjoying the day too. We shook hands and wished each other a happy Father’s Day as the sun sank into the western slopes and once again, another gallery of extraordinary moments captured in a gallery of photos – until next time.