Friday, August 3, 2012

Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina

Today we got up and decided to head for Grandfather Mountain.  Friends invited us.  What a treat because Rog got to sit back and enjoy the landscape for a change, while someone else, Les, drove.  

The ride to the top was full of switchbacks and beautiful sights.  Once there the first must do was to cross the mile high bridge.  Here you see the bridge from the parking lot before we crossed.

The mile high bridge was constructed in 1952 by architect Charles Hartman, Jr. to withstand three million pounds. Most visitors find this figure too large to believe, so a sign was posted suggesting a load limit of 40 persons as a more believable capacity.  The bridge is called mile high not because it is a mile up from the floor of the valley, but because it is that far above sea level.  When you look down it is about 80 ft. to the floor of the valley. 
Rog and me on the bridge.
Written proof.
Les and Michelle "enjoying" the walk across.
Our new best friends Diane and Terry making it across.
Rog and Les on the far side of the mountain.  No place to go but down or back across the bridge.

Notice the change in the weather.  This happened as we were waiting for our peeps to come back across.  Now you see Rog, now you don't.  The fog disappeared as fast as it arrived and we had our bright sunny day back.  It was great fun.
These pics were taken just minutes apart.

Notice the tree in the center.  Up on the mountain the winds can blow. They call these "flag trees" because the wind blows mainly in one direction forcing their branches to grow in one direction.  Today there was hardly a breeze, but winds have been clock at 115 mph.

Grandfather Mountain's Calloway Peak is the highest point in the Blue Ridge Mountain range at 5,964 feet above sea level. Of the 59 peaks in North Carolina above 5,000 feet, Grandfather is one of only six in private ownership. There are several other peaks in North Carolina higher than Grandfather Mountain, with Mt. Mitchell being the highest in eastern America at 6,684 feet, but they are not in the Blue Ridge range.  Most are in the Great Smokies. Mt. Mitchell is in the Black Mountain range.  On a past trip to North Carolina Rog climbed to the top of Mt. Mitchell.
This is the road coming up the top.  It was steep and windy.
Grandfather got its name when pioneers noted that the profile of the mountain's north face resembled that of an old man looking skyward.  The original Indian name of the mountain was Tanawha, means "a fabulous hawk or eagle."

 A 1962 US Geological Survey reported that some of the rock formation on Grandfather are 1.05 billion years old.  Gold was mined from three shafts on Grandfather prior to the 1849 California gold rush, but the high grade ore was played out long ago and even at today's prices, mining is no longer cost effective.
A great lunch with friends.  Rog climbed a rock to get this pic.
They had a nice animal habitat for us to see the animals of North Carolina. 

This is the deer habitat.  We thought the enclosures were the best we have ever seen for animals.

In 1968, a local wildlife club asked Grandfather Mountain to participate in a black bear propagation program. Visitor Center Manager Winston Church was sent to the Atlanta Zoo to bring back a pair of bears for release the following spring. It was not until his return to North Carolina that Church realized he had two male bears. Arrangements were made to return to Atlanta for a female. By accident he was given the zoo's pet, which was raised by the office staff.
The two bears were retained in a holding cage until spring, when the male was released. He ran into the forest, never to be seen again. The staff waited to release the friendlier female because the Arthur Smith television crew was filming a show and wanted to use her in a video version of a tune called "The Preacher and the Bear." It was Brother Ralph Smith who gave his new co-star the nickname "Mildred."
Mildred preferred human company and refused to depart for the woods. She hung around and pestered the camera crew all day and when they finished filming, Mildred strayed into the valley in search of companionship. After several days of upturning trash cans at local homes, Mildred was returned by wildlife officials to Grandfather Mountain for safe-keeping.
For several summers, Mildred and her cubs, Mini and Maxi, posed for pictures three times a day, returning to their cages between "shows." Then, in 1973, Mildred and her family moved into a spacious environmental habitat built in one of the most picturesque spots on the mountain. The large enclosure allows the bears to make real dens and to seek privacy when they need it. Considered the most humane concept in zoo enclosures, the Grandfather habitats are truly the most natural setting possible for these bears.
The displays were expanded to include a separate enclosure for a mother bear with cubs, a cougar habitat, a deer habitat, and two small, open-air habitats for bald eagles and golden eagles.
The guys hanging out.

This is Split Rock; 540 years old, the rock not Les, but he's getting there.
You can lift it Les!!!

Thank you Les for the drive and getting us back safe and sound.  I had absolutely not doubt that you wouldn't.  Not even once during the whole trip did I think you couldn't get us here in one piece. Now a few traffic laws may have been bent a little.

Thanks it was great for Rog to be able to enjoy.

I included info I from the Internet that I thought was interesting and informative. 
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