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Snow in the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Clouds were forming again after a morning snowfall on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

The afternoon following a snow storm on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

In the valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains, we had only received 1-3 inches of heavy wet snow this past week. But there were reports that a little more snow fell in the higher elevations. Once it stopped snowing, I headed out in my all wheel drive to an ungated area on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

As it turns out, half of the adventure was getting up to the Parkway! The mountain road leading to the Parkway hadn’t been plowed yet. In several areas of the residential area, there were branches heavy with snow laying across my lane. I passed a few other vehicles who were out and about, but no problem passing each other on the narrow roads.

But then, I rounded a corner on the mountain road where it was less traveled and saw a bit more snow in the road. As you can see by the sign, the road leading to the top of the mountain was curvy. Underneath the slush, you can just barely make out the center line.

At the bottom of the mountain leading to the Blue Ridge Parkway

To get to the top of the mountain, I’d be doing what my brother in Upper Michigan calls “driving the center line”. In the brutal winters there, when the plows haven’t been out on the rural roads yet, the first travelers blaze a trail through the snow, typically down the center of the road.

About 1.5 miles further up the mountain, I could see more snow on the ground and a distinct two-track path that was forged by previous drivers. The center line is completely covered now. It was rather slow going on this mountain road, but not because of the snow. The temperatures were just above freezing, so it wasn’t really slippery, and my all-wheel-drive cut through the snow without any problem. It was slow going because I had to always look through the trees when I was on a curve to make sure another vehicle wasn’t coming down the mountain.

Approximately 1.2 miles further up the mountain, the snow is a bit deeper. This is a two lane road, but only a 2-track path has been forged.

In Upper Michigan, we frequently traveled on two-track roads when out in rural areas of the forest. A two-track is a path that is beaten down by the tires of a motorized vehicle, usually with patches of grass or weeds growing between the tracks.

Another 1.2 miles further up the mountain. There’s a lot more snow!

Close to the top of the mountain where this road meets the Blue Ridge Parkway, the snow fall is much more noticeable! I probably could have navigated this road with a standard front-wheel drive vehicle, but I wouldn’t recommend it. With a snowfall in the mountains, you just never know how deep it will be at the top of the mountain.

Once I reached the entrance to the Parkway, the roads were clear and wet. The pull-offs for the overlooks weren’t plowed, but other visitors had created tracks to follow. There were a few areas where the snow reached the bottom of my under-carriage, but it was easy enough to get through with an AWD vehicle.

Though this area of the Blue Ridge Parkway was plowed, the overlook pull-offs were not.

The views from the overlooks on the Parkway were breathtaking! When I first arrived, it was mostly blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Not long after, the clouds were turning dark and the wind was moving the clouds quickly across the horizon. Each image was a feast for the eyes!

The afternoon started off with blue skies and white fluffy clouds.

I typically like to pull off to the side of the road to get shots of the landscape. There are areas where it’s not possible to do that (steep drop offs or no shoulder at all). And after a snow, it is even more difficult. But, the snowfall provides a different view of the landscape that would otherwise be ordinary or blah in winter. The snow creates a brighter image and when it’s contrasted with either blue skies or moody, cloudy skies.

Just hours after a snowfall on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
The light on the snow-covered branches was striking

To see these images in full size, please visit Beautiful Sun Photography!

The clouds were moving fast across the sky on the afternoon following a morning snow storm
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