Conversational red-tailed hawks, roving magicians and poised
To some, it might seem like a page from “The Lord of the Rings.” To area photographer Rob Moore, it’s just another day on the trail.
Moore is bringing the outdoors indoors with his exhibit, “Trail Trek,” at the Jones House Community Center in downtown Boone.
The show, which will hang throughout March, features 21 of Moore’s favorite photos taken on his adventures in the High Country, showcasing the flora, fauna and spellbinding views for which the area is known and celebrated. But “Trail Trek” is more than just a show.
“‘Trail Trek’ is basically becoming one with nature and understanding what everybody who lives in a more metropolitan environment may have forgotten,” Moore said.
Some trails, he said, are rated by seclusion, with five being the most remote of all. Those are his favorites. “But you’ve got to come prepared,” he said.
Food, water and hiking gear are a must, but when it comes to catching the perfect shot, patience can be the most valuable tool of the trade. Just ask a red-tailed hawk.
“Not all trail treks have to be on a trail,” Moore said, referencing the aforementioned hawk, which actually lives near the photographer’s home off Howard’s Creek Road. “They can be on the river, on the road, anywhere. But this hawk had been eluding me for four to five months before I finally got an opportunity.”
The hawk is pictured perched atop a post, head cocked curiously toward the camera.
“I walked up to it, about 25 feet away, and it just didn’t move,” Moore said. “I started making bird sounds to try to get it to turn its head. Eventually, I just started talking, and it cocked its head, as if listening to me, and began pruning itself.”
The Howard’s Creek hawk is just one example. Moore said he often unexpectedly encounters critters on the trail, like a black snake poised in a tree in the Linville Gorge or deer on the Boone Fork Trail, the latter of which competed in a staring contest. The winner?
“Deer don’t blink,” Moore said.
Neither does flora, another of Moore’s favorite subjects. Shots taken from the Appalachian Trail, Grandfather Mountain and Rough Ridge off the Blue Ridge Parkway offer sweeping vistas of some of the area’s most iconic, natural treasures, and none of them have been enhanced after the fact.
Rather than software, Moore relies on something more traditional to make to make those colors pop — the camera lens. “This is straight-up photography,” he said.
Moore honed his photography skills throughout his 24 years of military service. A master sergeant and interim first sergeant in the National Guard’s 1450th Transportation Company, he’s now set to retire in May.
“My wife, Mechelle, said I have to find something to do,” Moore said. “This is part of it. Now, I have to figure out the rest. We’ll see.”
In addition to photography, Moore works full time as production manager at Mountain Times Publications. If “Trail Trek” proves successful, Moore said he could proceed with follow-up exhibitions, along with other photo projects.
In the meantime, he’ll find his inspiration on the trail, be it the animals, scenery or people he meets. Although sometimes less photogenic, humans make for some of Moore’s most intriguing encounters on his trail trek.
“There was an older gentleman on the Appalachian Trail who’d trekked it three times,” Moore said. “Then there was this other fellow, who was a sleight-of-hand magician and performed a trick with a chain and a ring and called himself ‘The Ringmaster.’ Then you have people, like at Grandfather Mountain, who show up in flip-flops. I always wonder how they get down.”
On the other hand, Moore focuses on getting up, always looking toward another summit.
“With ‘Trail Trek,’ it starts a new part of my life,” he said. “Now that I’m retiring from the military, I’m out doing what I like to do. This is my element.”
Moore recalled a time on the Grandfather Mountain Profile Trail. While catching his breath at the peak with some fellow hikers, he spotted a northern flying squirrel nestled in a treetop. Nobody else seemed to notice.
“That’s what being on the trail is about,” he said. “You’ve got to be aware of your surroundings, and that’s ultimately what ‘Trail Trek’ is. The photos are just a gift to show everyone what they’re missing.”
“Trail Trek” will be on display and for sale at the Jones House through March. A reception will be held Friday, March 7, from 6 to 8 p.m., as part of downtown Boone’s First Friday Art Crawl.
The Jones House is located at 604 W. King St. in downtown Boone. For more information, call (828) 262-4576.
For Moore information, or to purchase some of the photographer’s work, visit http://www.mtnsnapshots.com.