If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. – Anne Bradstreet
When I headed to the Great Smoky Mountains last month, I wasn’t sure what I’d find to photograph.
In January 2011, there was lots of snow. – So much snow that I couldn’t visit several sections of the park – the roads were closed. This year, while it was cold, there wasn’t much snow. Much to my surprise – I found incredible beauty to photograph.
On my second night in Gatlinburg, the weather forecast was for rain, turning to freezing rain, turning to snow. So depending on the temperature, there was a chance of a good snowfall. As it turned out, less than 1/2 an inch of snow fell, but it still gave me a chance to photograph a snow-covered leaf.
As I explored the park that day, I discovered that the freezing rain was creating more photographic opportunities than the snow fall had. The rain was heavy enough, and the temperature dropped quickly enough, that plants were covered in ice.
The plants looked like they were part of a winter wonderland.
As I hiked a trail, enjoying the solitude of being along in what is usually a very crowded park, I came across some ice formations. I’d never seen anything like them before. What struck me was how delicate and beautiful the ice was.
As I photographed the ice, I realized what I was trying to show in my photos from this trip – the cold, the quiet – and most of the unexpected beauty.
I was also capturing scenes that no one else was likely to see. As the temperature rose and the ice melted, the scenes I photographed disappeared. And while they may have refrozen the next night – it would have been into something different from what I had photographed.
The Smokies have always been a very special place for me to visit. I love the wildflowers in the spring, the lush forest and rushing streams of summer, and the colors of fall. I always meet wonderful people on the trails and around the park.
This trip – I discovered how beautiful the Smokies can be on a quiet winter day.