One more late-season camping trip I thought. I first wished to photograph the milky way but then found that the inner part of our Galaxy is not very visible in November, December, or January but still a starry night would be fun to photograph and I knew the perfect tree to use as a foreground. Black Balsam.   The temperatures in Ashville were forecast in the mid-30s. Not too bad I thought.As I was packing the car I noticed the clouds moving in but I was already committed. As I drove past graveyard fields the drops began splattering on the windshield as I headed up the final stretch fog set in so thick you could swim in it. I took a nap in the car while I waited for it to pass. When I awoke a fierce wind was pushing the fog but no rain.

The balds with intermittent fog racing across we’re a surreal beautiful place. As more and more low clouds cleared only high cirrus clouds renamed the kind that makes amazing sunsets. It would be nice if I could camp up here. Maybe on the leeward side behind some tall blueberry bushes, the wind just kept getting stronger as the sun kept dropping. There was a place behind a few blueberries but this wind was too fierce for this the tent kept collapsing. I must move back below the tee line. I must compromise between getting camp set up and photographing the potentially amazing sunset.

The shadows were getting longer, I was leaning hard into the wind supporting myself with my tripod, becoming a tripod. Not that any tripod could steady either me or a camera in these gail force winds I am sure some were over 60 MPH! I needed to get off this summit before it gets too dark. Get down in the balsams out of this wind.

I had spotted a perfect place on the way up. A level place opening to the east for a sunrise view. I had seen no one all afternoon so it took me by surprise that the campsite I had hoped for was taken. So, in the darkness of the trees, I began to look around for a level place that would still be high enough to hopefully get a few pictures of the sunrise the next morning. My tent is not much more than 6X3 so it would not take much. A good thing too because I did not find much. A small ledge between the roots and rocks still with a good downhill grade (drainage) but I can make this work.


I get my tent set up and get ready for a long winter’s night. Reading for a long time before deciding it was time for sleep. But I noticed how cold it had gotten, my thermometer was down to 28 already and I was having a wind chill inside my tent. I decided I would go around to the windward side and place my backpack on the outside of the tent to block the wind. I had that side staked beside a large root and before the large rock. As I was placing the backpack a furious gust came along sending me flying backward my arms desperately grasping for anything to latch on too! The first bounce on my back I felt my headlamp flying off as I rolled back over still grasping, arms and legs flailing and trying to plant my feet! The next bounce I heard something else hit the ground but what was it? After the dust settled and I was checking myself out no broken bones, cuts, or head injuries all good beside hurt feelings. I found the light but what was the other sound? I looked around for a moment and decide to wait till daylight to see what it was. And headed back to the tent when I realized it was one of my boots, I did go back for the boot it was almost twenty feet down from the tent. After I got back in the tent, I was happy to find the backpack blocked the wind perfectly. I stayed warm and had a nice night in the tent.
Now the next morning letting the air out of my mattress and climbing out of the tent into the cold, cold morning, that is another story!!

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