It’s day 18 of an 18-day movie shoot and we’re all exhausted from 12+ hour days so it’s quite wonderful to spend the last day on Grandfather Mountain near Linville, North Carolina. As production coordinator, my job is pretty much done so I am hanging at our holding area at the Nature Museum while everyone else is on the Cliffside Overlook.
Having never been on the mountain, I jumped at an offer from the head of communications to take me to the top and the mile high Swinging Bridge. What a glorious view! It was supposed to be breezy and frigid with single digit temperatures but the winds died down and it turned out to be a spectacular day. The weather scared everyone so we practically have the mountain to ourselves.
We chose to hike up the stairway instead of taking the elevator. After not going to the gym for over a month, I’m breathing heavily but it’s the view that takes my breath away. The night before, some snow had fallen and it’s still covering some of the tree branches.
Other than the smoke from a wildfire that had broken out near the Linville Gorge the day before, the sky is clear as could be. We could almost see Charlotte shimmering in the distance, more than a hundred miles away.
Later, back at the Nature Museum, I wander down to the animal habitats. The animals here have been injured to the point where they would probably not survive back in the wild. It’s sort of an animal retirement village.
First I spot the giant bald eagles. These two are HUGE! Up in Alaska, where I lived for a while, eagles are a dime a dozen. They’re also considered scavengers and a threat to certain other species. In Homer we learned that eagles were killing off other birds by eating their eggs. But these NC raptors remind me of what majestic creatures they are.
The black bears are in an enclosure that deceivingly (or so I am told) looks like they can get out. A worker explains that the walls curve under where I am standing and there is a gully below the wall. The enclosure is made of natural and man-made features including dens for the bears to hangout. Since North Carolina is so far south, these guys don’t normally hibernate like the bears in, say, Alaska. We stare at each other for a bit. Clearly I am not captivating them. After giving me the once-over they walk away out of sight.
Otters are little performers. I stood there for just a few moments before this guy started doing backflips for a full minute and a half. What a show-off!
I’m sad to say goodbye to my film-making family of the last month and a half. They are funny and talented. Together, we are a well-oiled machine. As the sun sets below the distant mountains, the director calls picture wrap and we all head on down from the Mountain Top.