Incident On Panther Mountain. Part 2

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “A Foggy Morning On Panther Mountain 101919b” and is available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

If you haven’t read Part 1 of Incident On Panther Mountain click here.

The mist continued to thicken as I stood on the edge of the road looking down into the foggy valley below. A few of the trees are already bare but there’s more than enough foliage to hide anything smaller than a house. I could hear a steady thumping that seemed to come from everywhere. The thick fog made me a little claustrophobic until I realized that if it was thick enough to hide whatever was out there then it was hiding me too. I briefly considered dropping over the edge and allowing the edge of the road to be my cover but all it would take is one mistake and I would slip into the valley and fall for hundreds of feet. I fumbled with a fob on my key ring. If I clicked on the unlock button the door would unlock but the lights would also come on and let half of the mountain know my exact position. But if I waited until the last second I could open the door and be safely locked in before anything could zero in on me. I looked back down the road behind me and saw that nothing was there yet but the thumping was getting louder. Why can’t tell which direction it’s coming from? I thought as eased back to the truck. After a few steps I realized that it was my own heartbeat that I heard. Pounding in my ears like a drum. Just a few yards before reaching the door but before unlocking the truck I had a terrifying thought. I was on Panther Mountain. Not butterfly mountain. Not puppy mountain but Panther Mountain. The old timers would tell about the large “Devil Cats”. Jet black and able to move as silent as the fog across the leaves. What else was it that they said? I searched my memory for the tales and yarns that were told around campfires. If ever there was a real monster it was an 80 pound predator able to carry a full grown buck up to the treetops and devour it there. That was it! The Devil Cat is an arboreal hunter. I remembered my great uncle Teddy saying that when he was a kid people would walk with sharp sticks taller than they were to keep panthers from leaping out of a tree onto their backs. All I had was the monopod for my camera but it was kinda pointed so opened it up and shouldered it like I was marching. In those last few steps I watched the trees for any sign of movement and only took my hand off the stick to unlock the truck. Just as I predicted the headlights came on and cut through the fog. The trees were empty. I breathed a sigh of relief and chuckled at my own senseless panic. No panthers had been confirmed in this spot for at least a generation. But there was still the strange silence of the birds. It’s not unusual for there to be holes in the noise that gives you way to track people and animals that are out of sight but for the whole forest to suddenly became devoid of sounds is very odd. I turned the key in the ignition and the big blue truck purred to life. I have a choice to make. I can go forward and push beyond the fog in order to find a place where I can turn around or I can attempt to back the truck down the very narrow path.

Image Titled “A Foggy Morning On Panther Mountain 101919c ”

I shifted in drive and began to move deeper into the foggy woods. I had decided that it was all in my head when a shadow slipped through the trees on the hillside to my left. It happened so quick that I couldn’t tell what it was other than a dark mass.

To be continued on Part 3

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Suspended In The Mists

What a difference a few days make! Tonight’s feature image is the same tree that I featured in Letting Your Light Show except the two shots are about two weeks apart. The little Bradford Pear has lost almost all its leaves. A heavy mist hangs in the mountains and gives an ethereal quality to the landscape. In the distance I hear the rattling of antlers as two big Whitetail bucks struggle for dominance of the reclaimed strip mine. We’ve spotted the biggest one just beyond the end of the lot in the background. He’s bound to be a 10 or twelve point this year. The rattling doesn’t last long. The forest echoes the report of loser retreating to the lowland. I turn my attention back to the tree. It’s losing more leaves as I prepare to release the shutter and preserve the experience in my lens. With one last click I halt the sands of time from eroding the moment and lock up the big blue truck so that I can enter my day job. It seems that I cannot bring the hourglass to a complete halt after all.

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The Magic In The Mountains

As the morning sun breaks over the distant ridge I can hear the voices coming from the rushing water in the valley below. The mists slowly rise up the mountain reminding me of something that might be seen in Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth. One by one the large rubber rafts come bouncing over the rapids . They’ve traveled from all over the world to experience the thrill of the Gauley River. The Corps Of Engineers and draining the lake for the oncoming winter. I believe that there’s magic in our mountains. All of the fun and joy of summer on Summerville Lake is stored up in the lake itself and released in the fall as whitewater. The fun then moves up paddles and is absorbed into the hands. Eventually this magical essence of fun travels through the heart and comes out as excitement and laughter. The magic is amplified by the canyon walls until it spills over high cliffs and I smile as it touches me. Switching to my long lens I capture a few frames of the rafts passing by and enjoy the last of my coffee. The big blue truck is waiting to take me to the next leg of my journey so I pack my gear and slip behind the wheel. Just before pulling out I roll the window down and allow the magic to fill the cab. Call it “one for the road”.

Of All The Roads Traveled…

I don’t pretend to know how many miles of roads there are in the world. I’m pretty sure that it’s a lot. Highways and byways, dirt roads are jeep trails stretch out like an intricate web across the globe. Some roads are major interstate highways and others can only be traveled by foot. And oh the places where they can take you! There are large metropolitan cities with amazing architecture. Glass and steel and concrete comes together in an artful pentacle that pierces the heavens! I’ve been on roads that go under the mountains and even under the very sea itself! I pass by roads every day and wonder where they end or, even if they do end at all. But no matter how far you travel or what wonders your eyes drink in there’s one road that’s the most welcomed of all of them. This one road will take you to a place where you are the most content. It’s a special road that ends in a different place for each of us. In case you haven’t guessed, it’s the road that brings you home. No matter how rocky or how many twists and turns and no matter how high the hills that you have to climb are the road home will be the one most eagerly traveled. An old Irish blessing goes…

May the road rise to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the rains fall softly on your fields.

And, until we meet again may God hold you gently in the palm of his hand.

Tonight’s blog post is dedicated to my fellow West Virginians who are living out of state and being evacuated from the path of Hurricane Florence .

Shift Change

I stood there by the water’s edge as the morning sun smiled down on the Kanawha River. The fog rose sleepily from its bed just below the falls and continued upwards to become clouds. The cool mists are something to be enjoyed before the heat of the day becomes unbearable.

As I sip my morning coffee and watch the awakening of nature the last echo of a night bird calling from it’s roost falls on my ears. I don’t really know if it was bidding me good morning or if it was finally saying good night after being on the third shift. I listened for a few minutes. There was no second call. My friend was bedded down for the day. I took another drink of coffee and whispered “sleep well my friend. Day shift has you covered”.

By now the fog was cleared from the river and from my head. It was time to make good on my promise to the night bird and climb back up into the big blue truck and head to my day job.

Morning Glory On The Kanawha River

Standing on the banks of the beautiful Kanawha River at Glen Ferris, West Virginia. The cool mountain breeze washes over me as the sun brings a golden dawn. The fog rises up from the water as if sleeping clouds are waking up to go to work. A faint buzzing noise catches my attention as the morning air brings the fresh scent of water mint to my nose. I look along the water’s edge to see the honey bees collecting their morning meal. There’s a soft splash off in the distance and I look out across the river to see the ripples where the fish had jumped out to catch a mayfly. As the last cloud makes it’s way skyward to greet the sunrise I climb back into my big blue truck and continue on to my destination.

An Echo On The River

Tonight’s image is the remnant of the old bridge at Gauley Bridge. If memory serves me it was burned down during the American Civil War. To me it not only represents history but also a lost future. The fog that surrounds the old pylon gives me the feeling of something ethereal like a visitor from the past has come to the future to check up on things. Is it a manifestation of a memory or am I a vision of the future? It’s in these moments when the past and the future seem to collide that fascinate me. Maybe it was the fog on the river and maybe it was the contrast between the old stones and the seedling trees that are growing out from it that seemed to suspend and warp time for me. I can imagine that I can hear a lament echoing out from the fog. It’s a voice from the past warning not to burn bridges and be quick to reconcile with those on the other side of river.