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Hinshaw column: Cruising the parkway for color

The cool days and colder nights in Rowan County last week summoned me to the North Carolina mountains in search of perfect fall color scenes.
The mountain area had a light dusting of snow last Sunday night and Monday. It would seem the conditions were correct for beautiful color. One TV station advised that the leaf color at Grandfather Mountain was at its peak, but color should be good in Boone.I started my search for the perfect fall color scene in Boone with heavy traffic choking every road. Boone has the roads of a scenic mountain village with Charlotte-like traffic. Well, there wasn’t much color in Boone on this day. Either there was to be no color or the peak had not arrived. A swing up to the Valle Crucis community still produced no real fall color. Valle Crucis is Latin for “The Vale of the Cross.” With all the beauty of this peaceful area around the Mast General Store and the Mast Farm and hundreds of other people in search of fall color, the color just wasn’t there.
On to Grandfather Mountain where the TV said the color was at its peak. The road to Linville produced a few colorful trees scattered along the way, so surely the mountain would be nice. Once I reached the mountain, most of the trees had completely lost all of their leaves.
On the Blue Ridge Parkway I checked out the viaduct that hangs on the side of Grandfather Mountain.
Drive south on the parkway, I thought, and I’m sure I will run into the beautiful fall color.
The parkway was lined with “leaf lookers” looking for colorful leaves. Where could the color be this year? As I moved south I found an occasional area of beautiful fall color, but many overlooks had no color to offer this year. After making the most of what fall color I could find and photographing what was offered, I gave up the search near Marion and headed home thinking the color just wasn’t as pretty in the mountains this year.
A few days later, back in Salisbury, a friend of mine said he went to Mount Mitchell the day before me and the fall color was beautiful. He told me I should have gone to Mount Mitchell. It was only a few miles south of where I left the parkway and headed back to Salisbury.
Oh, well. The fall color in Rowan County is beautiful right now everywhere you look.
You can’t ask for anything more beautiful than right here in our back yards.

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