You will choose the two trips you want to take when registering online. You may also choose to explore the area on your own.
The Crowne Plaza has presented breakfast and lunch options, brown bag style, which you will need to order at time of registration. Many of the field trips leave quite early and will not be near restaurants at lunch time. The choices that will be available on the registration form are shown below:
Breakfast - $ 7
Lunch - $ 10
You should be prepared for just about any kind of weather...rain (hope not), cool mornings, warm days, wind, fog, etc. As always, dress in layers so that you can adjust to the conditions. Although long hikes are not planned for any of the outings, you should wear comfortable shoes.
There will be a wide range of photographic subjects from flowers to landscapes to birds and wildlife. So, everything you can carry from macro to mega lenses!
The image contest will take place on Sunday morning at 9:00 AM.
Images must be uploaded between 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM on Saturday evening
in the conference room off of the first floor lobby.
You are permitted to submit one image that was taken over the course of the weekend (Friday and Saturday). Please have an image on a flash drive or memory card for upload. Images should be in jpeg format with the longest side measuring 1024 pixels.
If you need help resizing your images, someone will be available to help you in the conference room during the designated upload times.
Make sure you fill up before heading out on the field trips, particularly on the Blue Ridge Parkway as there are no gas stations.
You will have time to meet with each of your field trip groups at Orientation and arrange carpooling.
Plan to bring breakfast and lunch food, snacks, etc. Most of us will be leaving the hotel in the morning before anything is open. You have a refrigerator and coffee maker in your room.
Please keep in mind that cell phone coverage is very spotty in the mountains of NC.
About 30 miles southwest of Asheville the Blue Ridge Parkway runs through
the Shining Rock Wilderness Area. This region of superlative mountain heights
features a multitude of wonderful waterfalls, many of them roadside views.
We will be visiting and photographing several waterfalls in the area.
There will be a half-day option and an all-day option. Total hiking for the half-day option will be about 2 miles total and 4 miles total for the all-day option.
Included waterfalls will be Skinny Dip Falls, Second Falls (Yellowstone Prong), Bubbling Spring Falls, West Fork Falls (Pigeon River), and Wildcat Falls (all-day option). Though the trails are classified easy, please be aware that the areas around waterfalls are tricky and potentially hazardous by their very nature with drops and climbs, jagged rocks, strong currents and slippery terrain. Those choosing the all-day option should bring a lunch. Those choosing the half-day option are welcome to bring a lunch or cut out on their own (The nearest dining is the Pisgah Inn at Parkway milepost 408.6. The half-day option to be over by 1:00. The all-day option will probably last to 5:30.
Hiking Info: 3 miles round trip via Appalachian Trail to Jane Bald and back, moderate to strenuous in places - a lot of uphill and downhill walking
The magnificent display of purple Catawba rhododendron and orange flame azaleas along the balds of the Roan Mountain massif is one of the area’s major events each year. The panoramic vistas along this part of the Appalachian Trail are jaw-dropping at any time but the additional mass of floral color intensifies the experience. Due to last season’s rainfall we may also see lush green fields carpeted with yellow wildflowers. We could have beautiful blue skies with fluffy white clouds or we could be fogged in - perhaps both on the same day! No matter what the conditions are, you will be rewarded with memorable landscapes. This will be a slow hike so you may catch your breath and capture any images you want along the way.
The section of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Asheville and the Smokies
has some of the best mountain vistas and wildflowers along the whole of
the parkway. Incredible photographic opportunities can be found in all
seasons. The focus of the morning part of the field trip will be the section
between Mt. Pisgah and Looking Glass Rock Overlook. Wide angle landscapes,
long telephotos scenics and even macro shoots are available along this
section depending on conditions.
The group will then work our way down the Davidson River Road (Highway 276) for lunch in Brevard, NC, photographing Looking Glass Falls and the many fern forests along the way. After lunch the group will travel the parkway south past Graveyard Fields working our way to Heintooga Spur Road where some of the best wildflower opportunities can be found at this time of year. Cowee Mountain Overlook and Grassy Ridge Mine Overlook will also be a necessary stops along the way. This is an easy field trip with car access at every stop.
From Asheville, we’ll drive the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) north to Mount Mitchell. At 6684’, Mt. Mitchell is the highest point east of the Black Hills in SD. We’ll stop at several overlooks for views and wildflowers. Watch for wildflowers, Mountain Laurel, and Flame Azalea along the way that you might want to visit on your own on your return trip. We’ll stop at the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center (Restrooms), and take a short 0.3 mile (one way) walk on the Mountains-To-Sea trail to a meadow with stunning Catawba (Pink) Rhododendrons. I’ll point out a somewhat more challenging hike to Craggy Pinnacle for your return. We’ll stop at the overlook for Glassmine Falls (no walking necessary), and point out hiking opportunities on the way to Mt. Mitchell SP. At the parking lot, there’s a small museum and snack bar. The top, with it’s 360 degree view, is reached by a short, but steep, wide, paved walkway. The outing ends here. From the top there’s a 0.7 mile loop trail back to the parking lot through the endangered Spruce/Fir high-altitude forest. At your discretion, you might enjoy the restaurant, continue north on the BRP, or take a hike, before returning to Asheville via the BRP.
We’ll be visiting the famous Biltmore Estate in Asheville. The trip will begin at the Conservatory which is full of exotic plants. Immediately next to the Conservatory are the lovely outdoor gardens, with seasonal plants and flowers, and a scenic walking path to the Bass Pond. Participants can spend as much or as little time as they’d like at these photogenic locations. The Conservatory is within reasonably easy walking distance to the Biltmore House.
A tour of the house takes several hours and we’ll have to reserve times to visit ahead of actually showing up. Cameras are not allowed inside the house. There are limited places for lunch on the estate (and they are fairly expensive), so it might be advisable to either leave the estate to get lunch or bring a box lunch with us. In any event, participants are welcome to stay on the estate all day or to leave whenever they feel like it. In addition to the scenic areas and the house, the other notable stop would be the winery and farm area.
Bring your own lunch and water. No hiking required. The last road segment to Cataloochee is paved to dirt, narrow, washboarding, uphill, winding with lots of curves, slow going. Subjects include Elk, vistas, historic buildings, and some wildflowers.
The elk begin grazing in the early morning low light and then retreat to the shade among the trees so remember bring your long lens. They like to graze again in late afternoon/early evening. There is an old grave yard and plenty of historical buildings to shoot while waiting for the elk to reappear.
Carpooling is a good idea. Once you see the elk, you can park anywhere along the road. However, the pull-off/overlook from which we will shoot the sunset, is a popular place for park visitors to photograph the sunsets so here, we will all compete for this limited parking area.
NOTE: Willfully approaching within 50 yards (150 feet) or ANY distance which disturbs the elk or bear is prohibited. However, if you approach an animal so closely that it stops feeding, changes direction, or otherwise alters its behavior, YOU ARE TOO CLOSE and you can be fined.
Transylvania County near Brevard, NC, is known as “the Land of Waterfalls.” We will explore 5-6 waterfalls of all shapes and sizes and numerous cascades in the area. The hikes to the falls will be classified “easy,” but please bear in mind that the terrain that forms waterfalls contains changes in elevation, dangerous drops, and slippery rocks and footing. Due to limited parking, carpooling is highly encouraged.
Driving time from Asheville: about 1 ½ hours to Carver’s Gap on NC/TN border
Approximate return time to Asheville: 6:00 PM
Subject Matter: Scenic vistas and flowers/macro opportunities
Equipment: Wide Angle Lens up to a midsize telephoto, Macro Lens, Diffusers, Polarizer Filter, Graduated Neutral Density Filter, Hiking Boots, Rain Gear, Sunscreen, Gloves, Hat, Jacket
Lunch: Bring water, lunch and snacks since no food sources nearby
Facilities: Modern restrooms in the gardens/outhouse at Carver’s Gap. Nothing on trail.
The first half of June along the Blue Ridge Parkway rewards visitors with
many miles of purple Catawba rhododendron blooms, orange and yellow flame
azaleas and pink/white mountain laurel framing stunning mountain panoramas
and forest scenes. There are also other flowers to photograph, including
tulip poplar, goatsbeard, fire pinks and Indian paintbrush. Depending on
access to the Parkway south of Asheville (landslides and undercut road
cause closures), the field trip will begin either at Mile Post 394 or at
Mile Post 412.
Among the scheduled stops will be Looking Glass Rock, Graveyard Fields, Devil’s Courthouse and the Heintooga Spur Road. Many other stops will be included depending on the weather and bloom conditions. This is an easy field trip with car access at every stop.
We’ll start out on pleasant back roads to Dillingham, and then start up
a Forest Service road about 8 miles to Douglas Falls (see Kevin Adams'
book, “North Carolina Waterfalls.”) Along the way, we’ll watch for numerous
cascades surrounded by late wildflowers, some of which we’ll visit on our
return. Parking will be limited here. Douglas Falls is reached by a 0.5
mile (one-way) trail that can be tricky if wet. I’ve seen Catawba (Pink)
Rhodies along the side of the falls at this time of year.
After our return to Dillingham, we’ll take another gravel road, also with photogenic cascades, up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. There should be Flame Azalea. From the Craggy Visitor Center, we’ll take a short 0.3 mile (one way) walk on the Mountains-To-Sea trail to a meadow with stunning Rhododendrons and perhaps some Mountain Laurel. From here you might return via the BRP (be sure to stop at the overlooks), or continue North on your own about 15 mi. to Mt. Mitchell, SP. At 6684’, Mt. Mitchell is the highest point east of the Black Hills in SD.
Macro field trip: Come learn and practice macro photography skills and
techniques with Les Saucier. Les will demonstrate some of the macro techniques
he has developed over the years such as macro flashlights, flower holders,
macro wide-angle and the best practices to get the most from your lenses
for close-up work.
The Botanical Garden at Asheville is a native wildflower garden and is a great place to find and photograph rare and uncommon wildflowers from the Southern Appalachian mountain region as well as all of the common species. Beginning macro photographers as well as intermediates are welcome.
This field trip will start with a brief meeting at the hotel with your guide. The City of Asheville offers many beautiful areas to photograph. Your guide will have chosen the peak opportunities and lead the group. Anyone who wants to go on their own at that point is welcome to do so. You will be given maps and information.