Memories of trips past: Sunrise at BrassTown Bald

"Brasstown Bald Mists" was an unplanned photo - but it's also one of my most memorable prints from the Southeast region.
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Impromptu trip to Brasstown Bald

I'm in the midst of a busy travel season that will take me all over the Southeast region of the United States before summer. And that has me thinking about my past road trips through this incredibly scenic part of the United States.

One of the most memorable sunrises I've ever captured came about pretty much by accident. I hadn't planned to hike to the top of Brasstown Bald when I set out early one morning to work up a scenic photo tour of North Georgia for, but the end result was the gorgeous photo above titled "Brasstown Bald Mists."

It all started when I was working a Bassmaster event beautiful Chatuge Lake in Hiawassee, Ga. I was assigned to drive around and work up a photo gallery showing the scenic beauty of the area, and my initial plan was to begin atop Bell Mountain to capture sunrise over the lake.

I arrived about an hour before sunrise to find the access gate locked, and I panicked. Pulling out my phone, I started frantically searching for a substitute and came across an entry for Brasstown Bald.

Turns out, this is the highest point in Georgia, and it was supposed to provide panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Perfect!

The only problem was that it was almost 30 minutes away, and sunrise waits for no one.

I'm not saying I broke a few speed limits on the way, but I made it to the parking lot about 30 minutes before official sunrise. In fact, color was already painting the sky.

And I still had a steep, half-mile hike up to the observation point. I pretty much jogged the whole way, with my camera gear on my back.

There were a couple of times I thought I might have a heart attack from the exertion. I mean, I'm from South Louisiana, and my lungs just aren't accustomed to jogs at more than 4,000 feet above sea level.

But I ran onto the observation platform with minutes to spare, and set up as I struggled to catch my breath.

Moments later the sun began topping the horizon. Normally, I like to show the sun in my sunrise photos, but something really special happened as the morning light spread across the surrounding mountains.

The ridges were covered in a haze that turned brilliant orange in the early morning sunlight, and sunbeams began to show up.

So I composed the above photo that captures the mood of sunrise in Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains, with fog and low clouds in the valleys. It was just a special moment to be awake.

And it all happened by accident!