160004-humpback-rocks-woman-clouds

Head in the Clouds

© 2016 Adam Kenneth Campbell

LOCATION

Humpback Rocks
Blue Ridge Parkway
Rockfish, Virginia
United States

GPS

N 37°57’41.6″
W 78°54’02.5″

THE STORY

A woman posing next to a 1,000 foot drop on the other side of this rock formation, at Humpback Rocks in Virginia.

Humpback Rocks is a very popular hike due to its proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway, I-64 near Afton Mountain. Most people do it as a 1.0 mile up and back. However, it is also easily accessible from the Appalachian Trail. The climb from the parking lot to the Rocks is very tough, gaining about 800’ over just 8/10 of a mile. The views at the Rocks are great looking west onto the Shenandoah Valley and north into Shenandoah National Park.

This was a photo taken during a 10 day trek through Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio. I had just started out along the Blue Ridge Parkway after driving the length of Skyline Drive in Virginia and found a line of cars parked along the side of the road. A paved drive, with cars parked along both sides the entire length, wound it’s way up a hill to a parking lot. I had no plans of walking a quarter mile from the road below up to whatever was in this lot. However the closest possible parking spot to the trailhead was waiting for me when I got to the top. I decided that fate wanted me to check this out.

When I saw the sign that said “Humpback Rocks 0.8 Miles” I thought to myself “I don’t even need water for that one” and took off with my camera pack. An HOUR LATER after climbing up one of the most torturous hills I’ve hiked in a long time, I arrived at one of the most stunning rock overlooks I’ve ever seen.

This woman was sitting with a friend right on the edge of this rock formation, and frankly I was too scared shitless to get any closer to the edge, due to the nearly 1,000 foot vertical drop to my death on the other side. I could hardly stand up and had to use image stabilization for every photo I captured due to not being able to stop my hands from shaking.

This woman offered up a nice pose for me, and I obliged. In the back of my camera this looked like the worst of all the photos I took of her — but on the computer screen it turned out that her smile was best in this shot, and the fact I had backed out my lens to a wider shot turned out to be great. Instead of trying to crop out the row of clouds, I love how this row of clouds helps frame the shot, going back into the distance with perspective to help convey just how far you can see from the top of this rock formation. I just like everything about this shot.

This particular rock formation is an extremely popular tourist destination, and at the time I was visiting would have been impossible to get a photograph without people (without quite a bit of Photoshop work anyway), so I went with it and tried to capture the place for what it actually is.

I feel that showing some of the people who are at these places enjoying it with you helps convey the sense of scale at a place like this.

Humpback Rocks is a very popular hike due to its proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway, I-64 near Afton Mountain. Most people do it as a 1.0 mile up and back. However, it is also easily accessible from the Appalachian Trail. The climb from the parking lot to the Rocks is very tough, gaining about 800’ over just 8/10 of a mile. The views at the Rocks are great looking west onto the Shenandoah Valley and north into Shenandoah National Park.

KEYWORDS

humpback; rocks; overlook; woman; blue; ridge; parkway; virginia; mountains; view; scenic; shenandoah; valley; national; park; virginia; parks; nature; skyline; drive; va; overlook; united; states; america; american; tourism; tourist; clouds; distance;

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