That storm cloud on the left is hung up on Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the eastern United States. I had camped on Commissary Ridge the night before, which connects to its shoulders, and was in that storm all night. There was wind like I've never heard, rain and thunder. In the morning, just at dawn, packed up the kit and backpacked back to the road. Just a few hundred vertical feet down, and I found this view from below the storm.
Linville Gorge. It was absolutely deserted, except for the herons, the crows, and a few of their cousins.
The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, in its 60th year this year. New this year was a "Scottish Cultural Village," in reality a large pavilion in which people gave lectures on Scottish history and culture. Several of these were native-born Scots, and it is amusing to listen to them speak to an American audience of Scottish descent. Scots present an uncomfortable stance. One part is a heavy measure of the British self-deprecation, greatly increased by the awareness of their subordinate stature in the Union that has led them to think of their own nation as 'backward' compared to the dominant culture. The second part is an intense patriotism they are disinclined to show overtly lest they be thought one of those backwards Scots by their more properly Anglicized (or even outright English) comrades.
The mixture to which I refer is on display in this piece of music:
Educated Southerners sometimes display a similar quality with regard to the dominant Yankee culture, so I recognize it. It was amusing to see them addressing Southerners who take the same pride in Scottish heritage that they take in Southern heritage. They're supposed to apologize, sort of, not take it all too seriously -- not unless they're good and drunk, at least, in the safest of safe company -- and here is an audience who showed up in kilts, swords in hand, dirks on their belts, ready to sing "Flower of Scotland" all night long.
Didn't see any Rebel flags, though they've been there every year before. There's a reason for this: the famous Rebel flag is a St. Andrew's Cross, and it is (or always has before been) a point of pride that the South chose to honor its Scottish warrior heritage in asserting its military prowess. I saw one banner hung alongside the usual American-heritage flags, Old Glory and the Betsy Ross flag and the Gadsden flag and flags of military branches. It was made of a plain white towel, this banner, which was hand lettered to the effect that they'd been forced not to fly the flag by the games committee.
I did see a new flag this year that I don't remember having ever seen before. It was visible in very great numbers about the field and the campground.