When I took this photo at Occoneechee Mountain a couple months ago, there had recently been a prescribed burn. For two or three days much of the area was blanketed in heavy woodsmoke, and a smell that could’ve been mistaken for barbecue permeated the air. The area in my photo had been affected by it, and the charred appearance of the ground and surrounding trees gives proof of that. Despite the blackened appearance, however, most of the trees had survived, and much of the underbrush had been minimized to clear the way for new growth. With the charring of the forest came an austere majesty, highlighted by the incoming sunlight in this photo which I took on the downward slope toward the Eno River.
On the edge of the Eno River near one of my favorite hiking trails stands this moss-covered, picturesque boulder. I’m sure there’s a name which has been given to it by locals in the area, but I’m not aware of it. If I were to name it, though, I would call it Lookout Rock. It stands around twelve feet in height and is big enough that it can legitimately be considered climbing practice for the weak of heart. On the right edge of it, barely visible, there’s a cleft in the rock that gives access to a kind of staircase–which is probably the result of decades of humans climbing the rock in exactly that spot–which takes you to the top of the boulder itself. From the top, there’s an incredible 180° view of the Eno River, which is one of my favorites. For that that reason, if no other, Lookout Rock has a special place in my heart.