This striking image, captured by Greg Holt of Fairview with his Samsung Galaxy S5, took first prize in Chimney Rock Park’s annual Spring Photo Contest. But it did a prophetic job of illustrating the summer season in the mountain region, June through August — months marked by periods of daily intense rain and cooler-than-usual temperatures.
“It was taken during the week immediately preceding the heavy rains [in late May] that caused the parking-lot area to collapse and the park to close,” notes Holt. (Both have since been reopened.)
On the day Holt shot the Chimney pinnacle from the “Opera Box” — a natural shelter created by giant boulders — “I knew heavy rains were coming,” he says. “There weren’t many visitors, but I was certainly impressed with the few intrepid hikers who actually hiked up to the chimney in the middle of a downpour.”
Holt notes this year’s weird weather going back to February, when the temps routinely reached 70, followed shortly by April snow. “It absolutely calls into mind global climate change … a legitimate cause for concern,” he says. “But on a less serious note, the rain presents just another interesting dynamic to the experience of the mountains, and it’s good to be reminded of it.”
For more information about events at Chimney Rock Park, see chimneyrockpark.com.
— M.J. MacAodh