One of My (Mike’s) photography friends (Bill) was in town over the July 4th weekend and wanted to go chase a sunset up in West Virginia. So we headed off to Spruce Knob, which is located in the Monongahela National Forest. Spruce Knob is the highest point in WV, sitting at 4,863 ft above sea level. This is a unique region of the Southern Appalachian Mountains as it has an alpine feel to it. The area is covered by a dense forest of spruce trees, many along the western side are deformed due to the high winds that this area is exposed to year-round.
During the early afternoon hours before we left both of us had kept an ever watchful eye on several weather sites to confirm that our “golden hour” window would provide a good chance at a dramatic sunset. Once arriving our excitement grew as we could see the tail edge of the clouds on the western horizon, which meant that as the sun set, it would dip below the cloud line and light up the sky overhead. We were hiking around a bit trying to decide on a good location to set up to catch the evening sunset when we decided that going to Spruce Knob Lake might offer a better opportunity. We were halfway in the van when I spotted this scene opening up. We both ran from the van with our cameras in hand and began to snap away as the light was changing way too fast to get our tripods set up. We moved locations a bit, set up our tripods and waited…and waited…and waited. We realized soon that there was another system racing in behind this current front and our hopes of a grand sunset for the evening were gone. But, because of some keen observation and a bit of luck, I managed this shot of the gorgeous sunlight painting the mountains.