While recently driving through the Great Smoky Mountains, not far from Asheville, North Carolina, I discovered at long last whence cometh the monkier of those famed hills.
They do, indeed, smoke.
With a charming southern thunderstorm belabouring the mountainsides with rain, wind, and weather of various descriptions, the rainforests upon said mountainsides began to give forth their response to rain, wind, and weather of various descriptions. Usually, of course, this exchange of rainforest heat and cool rain begets a nice sort of mist, but not so in the Smokies. No, there everything is done on a grand scale, and the hills seem to (quite literally) be on fire. Great clouds, nay, columns of smoke waft up from various spots along the tortuous highway, making one feel as if the entire environment is being consumed by an inferno. This effect is heightened by the fact that the whole upper thousand feet or so of the range is cleverly disguised as a cloud bank. What with all that cloud business going on in such a thick and determined manner, the effect of having wandered into a forest fire is complete.
Hence, the Smoky Mountains. It interested me, at the time, because driving upon a narrow two lane highway above 5000 feet, passing the occasional sign that says "Caution, dropoff has no Bottom", is always interesting. It interests me now because, at this great distance of time, it makes me think of visits to Point Reyes Light House (California), The Badlands (Dakotas), and The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (Maryland/Virginia), were all similarly shrouded in the mysterious cloud vapour which is made up of water too good to join it fellows in land-based organizations, but takes instead to the skies in a non-condensed form. At Point Reyes, of course, it caused the outside temperature to feel appromixately -789degrees Kelvin, but that's most likely an exaggeration, brought on by the fact that I was inadequately dressed for an Antarctic excursion. Oh well.
Back to the mountains.