I took a short hike along the top of Hot Springs Mountain the other day. Along the way, my journey took an unexpected turn that was quite interesting. I quite literally took “the road less traveled.”
FYI, I drove to the top of Hot Springs Mountain, past the tower and parked in the small parking lot just before the North Mountain Loop. That’s when I started down Mountain Tower Trail for a bit. This path goes a short ways and then splits. I chose to take the path of Upper Dogwood Trail. You can see it in the picture above.
Along the way, I saw what appeared to be another split in the trail, but this one didn’t have a sign and the path was not well kept. After closer inspection, this really wasn’t a path. Rather, it was an old asphalt road that used to snake up the mountain. Notice in the picture below the asphalt at the bottom as it turns into a path along the way.
A little further along and there was more of the old road visible with this tree along fallen over the top.
I thought it was cool to see such a soft, delicate mushroom growing out of the ground right where the old road used to be.
A road of tar and rock has been replaced by a road of moss here.
At the end of the road I came across a long abandoned fire pit. This coat was still there hanging on a tree. I’m guessing it has been there awhile seeing it is August and temperatures are hot even at night! Shortly after this spot the road ends abruptly. It is hard to tell what happened afterwards. Maybe a landslide because there isn’t even a level path afterwards and the entire area is grown up quite thick. This makes me wonder if this is why the old road was abandoned. If anyone knows more about it, please let me know.
Seeing I met the end of this road, I headed back to the main path of Upper Dogwood Trail. You can’t miss this cool looking limb from an old fallen tree. It’s right along the trail and IMO, it looks quite awesome!
I thought this stretch of the trail was quite pretty so I setup for a quick shot. For the photographers out there, I decided to go with my 70-200 lens to compress the scene and, contrary to my normal style, went with a low fstop to give shallow depth of field. Personally, I like it.
Along the way, the sun helped me catch a glimpse of this cool web of death. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The web was an egg-shaped ball.
Here is a closer view of the bottom with a view of the spider underneath hanging upside down. Click the pic to make it larger… maybe you can identify the spider for me!
Next I came across what would have been a much cooler shot if I were quicker setting up. I saw this tunnel web with a GIANT spider sitting just inside. Right as I setup and was composing my shot he scuttled off. Doh!
A closer view of the creepiness!
Now my favorite shot of the day… ok, not really my favorite right now. I liked this one because I think this will be a good future sunrise spot. I still tried to make the best of my time there and took a 7-bracket burst for HDR processing. I used f22 to get the star burst.
I’m looking forward to taking this hike again earlier in the morning for more dramatic lighting. Enjoyable day!