The Magnificent Highlands

There's nothing like the air in the highlands of the Blue Ridge.

Collage #1 (above) is from Saturday, Oct. 2 at about 2,900 feet in Grant, Virginia...
...morning frost gave way to steam, and a warm and sunny day brought great bird, insect, and mammal (namely human) activity. Everything is marching southward, or otherwise cramming for winter's test of survival. A gigantic nest of bald-faced hornets near the cider press made the most of the annual heaps of winesaps.
Humans gathered round for sips and chugs of fresh juice, and autumn olive berries were gleaned from the fields, pressed into leather. Passing rose-breasted grosbeaks made their own meal of large seeds dangling from tall meadow plants nearby.

Collage #2 (below) is from Sunday, Oct. 3, at about 5,300 feet on Whitetop Mountain. Water droplets covered all details as we passed through spruce, grassy balds, and a yellow birch forest. When we departed from lower reaches for our trek to the mountain, the temperature was 56 degrees (at 2900') and the sky was dropping drizzle. Upon arrival we were way up in the clouds...41 degrees, 80% humidity, wind and sleet. In the face of high winds, cold air, and other challenging forces, the beauty and diversity is always striking, on all scales. The reduced visibility brought into sharp focus the details upon the ground in front of us...everything is in flux as autumn marches toward winter...and the resulting colors are quite a show. On a clear day, the eyes are drawn to the horizon... the view is arguably the best in the eastern United States.