Visiting the quaint little community of Valle Crucis, NC, feels like a throw-back to the late 1800s. The Watauga River winds gently through the mountain valley, past horse pastures, weathered barns and the historic Mast General Store. On our recent trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains, we found an excuse to visit Valle Crucis just about every day. (Click here to read my first post about this trip and here to read about our previous trip to the mountains.)
We happened upon the pasture above during the golden hour—just before sunset—on a heavily overcast afternoon. The way the sun was hitting the muted winter landscape and looming clouds caught my eye, and I pulled the car over to take a few photos. The girls were with us, so I only had a few moments with my camera before someone piped up from the back seat that it was time for dinner. Tout de suite.
Later that night, as I reviewed the photos, I noticed I had captured the light and color of the valley but missed a few details that could have made for interesting focal points. So I headed back to the same spot the following afternoon to take more pictures. The light wasn't as spectacular as it was the previous day, but I did nab those additional details I was pining over in the photos below. (Don't be afraid of the do-over!)
Below: Isn't that tree fantastic?
Below: You'll see the same (now blurred) tree on the upper right side of the photo, this time taken from across the valley. When I spied the barbed wire, hay bales and red barn, I thought the scene would make a nice shot. But when I realized I could also get that tree in the frame, I knew I had to have it.
Our favorite aspect of this sweet mountain valley was the Valle Crucis Community Park, where we spent many hours walking along the Watauga River, playing at the playground and making new friends. Below, clockwise from left: How I love Nora's bulldog expression. Best playground ever. An old red farmhouse along the river. Happy, happy Cricket.
Below: What a pleasant surprise: plump carved bears sprinkled around the park.
Below left: The old-timey Mast General Store Annex, taken from Valle Crucis Community Park.
Below right: I've been fly fishing a few times in my life and have caught exactly two things: 1) myself, managing to wrap the line around my neck, and 2) a rare and highly prized golden trout. I haven't been fishing since I caught that golden trout in Wyoming. You should quit while you're ahead, right? But the Watauga River looked so inviting on a mild winter afternoon that it made us want to grab fly rods and wade in. (And re-read A River Runs Through It for the 100th time.) We didn't get a chance to fish on this trip, but it was fun to watch the fishermen as we strolled the path along the river. (Cricket has been practicing her casting with a plastic toy fishing pole ever since.)
I'm Julia Soplop, writer and photographer. I believe there is something profound in bearing witness to moments of joy and pain in others’ lives. My husband, three girls and I live outside of Chapel Hill, NC. You can read more about me here.
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