Heavy weather provides a tiny window on Road Mountain

Jack Ollis
Special to The Black Mountain News

(Editor’s note: Jack Ollis, who shares many of his photos with readers of The Black Mountain News, wrote this in an email to the paper about the accompanying photo that he took.)

You wouldn’t believe the conditions when I took the photo of the ice on everything in the Round Bald area of the Highlands of the Roan.

I was hiking and camping near Big Hump with my 10-year-old grandson. In the morning we decided to climb to the top of Big Hump Mountain, but the wind was so bad that we turned back a couple of hundred feet of elevation below the top.

We found an alternate route and circled around to Bradley Gap and then down the mountain to the head of Big Horse Creek, where we had left some of our camping equipment. My grandson had to return home to South Carolina. I decided that I would go to the Grassy Ridge Bald which is 38 miles, the way the crow flies, from Black Mountain.

I camped solo using a rain fly for shelter. At 6,000-feet elevation the wind was ferocious, probably between 30 and 50 mph for the most of the night. About dark it started to rain torrents and continued through the night. I used my hiking poles to prop up the rain fly, but they kept falling down on me.

I slept very little until just before daylight, when I dozed off. Some time later it seemed that the rain had stopped, but I couldn’t tell because of the continuing wind. The rain had stopped, but it was now ice.

Even though a lot of rain/sleet/snow came under the rain fly onto my sleeping bag, I never felt wet. The reason was that my sleeping bag was frozen. There was a glaze on just about everything. I put on all five layers of clothes on the top half of my body, including my head. The two rain/wind parkas felt good.

As I hiked toward Carvers Gap, the three or so miles seemed short because of the beauty of nature. Every blade of grass and every spruce and fir needle was coated with ice.

On crossing Jane Bald and then heading toward Round Bald, the sun peeked out for a few seconds. I knew this was the time to take a photo.

Although the time was short, I was able to get a decent exposure of the beautiful sight of sun shining through the clouds and fog for a very short interval. The beauty provided a delightful experience.