Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thematic Photographic 33: "Surprise" v.1.0 - Stone Faced

"Man or Beast? (Or Just a Rock?)"
Blue Ridge Parkway, NC - February 2001 (Click to embiggen)

Thematic Photographic hosted by Carmi - Button Image by Smarmoofus Hosted by Written Inc.

When Carmi announced this theme, I got chills. Not because the theme was so exciting -- though it does seem promising -- but because of the photo he used to introduce it. As soon as I saw it and read the story behind it I thought of this similar shot I took on the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Linn Cove Viaduct somewhere between Boone and Linville Gorge back in February of 2001. Despite the somewhat glaring quality of the mid-afternoon light, the figure (that I have to assume was not carved there intentionally) was so brazenly apparent to me that a photo was almost a moral imperative.

Note that I call the formation "unintentional". It very well might have been created by natural forces. If this is where I think it is, then it overlooks the Linn Cove Viaduct which was completed in 1983 as one of the final stages in the constructon of the Parkway. One of the mandates for the construction of the Parkway when it was conceived was that it should be built to conform to the mountains, not the other way around. Blasting and traditional cut-and-fill methods were to be used to create the right-of-way only when every other option had been exhausted. To that end, engineers and landscape architects devised the viaduct which remains the most complex concrete bridge ever constructed.

I'm sure that this outcropping is near the viaduct, but not certain how near. So I can't say with 100% certainty that this figure wasn't created by human hands (or explosives). But whether man or nature was the artist, I feel pretty sure that it was pure serendipity that wrought this... face? Owl? Gargoyle? You decide!

For more on the Viaduct, visit

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Carmi said...

My turn for shudders down to ths base of my spine. Ever feel like we crossed paths in a past life or something? I love that you risked life and limb to get this shot.

I vote naturally-formed. There's enough randomness in the details of its formation that it's clearly removed from a Mount Rushmore-esque sense of perfection. Interestingly, I found myself thinking the exact same thing as I stood in front of my little Kentucky find: could this be REAL? Did someone SCULPT this or has it always been so. And if it's always been so, how did I come to be here, now, face-to-face with it?

Life has some cool mysteries, doesn't it? It freaks me out - in a totally happy way - that I get to encounter so many of them. And then share them with folks who get it.

kenju said...

That reminds me of something we saw in Hawaii; a mountain face that resembles a famous person, although I can't for the life of me remember who it is right now.

Robin said...

What a wonderful find, and I love that you kept it in black and white. I too vote for naturally formed. Discoveries like this make my heart soar, like they are a secret treasure just waiting there for someone to finally see them.

In keeping with the hidden faces theme we seem to have going today, here's one that I took in Italy last year:

Old Man of the Mountain

SandyCarlson said...

I think the Old Man or his son came here after falling off the face of New Hampshire. Get that thing stamped onto a quarter before it's too late!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Really amazing!


Heather said...

Nice. I also like the black and white as it captures the light perfectly. I love the things like this that we stumble upon ...

Pamela said...

It looks like a bird God to me.

DNLee said...

I can see the face in that rock. Great eye.

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