Watch the Bear Shadow take shape in the clip above.
Visitors clambered up to the guardrails at the Rhodes Big View between Highlands and Cashiers on Hwy 64 to catch a glimpse of the Bear Shadow in the Chattooga River headwaters. Every year from mid-October to early- to mid-November the shadow makes an appearance around 5:45 p.m.
Jason Zacher traveled with his family from Greenville, S.C. to the scenic overlook on Oct. 21 to witness what he has only seen in photos.
“I’ve wanted to this this for a while, I’ve only seen pictures,” said Zacher. “It’s like any other natural phenomenon, it good to come up and see it with your own eyes.”
Before the shadow had taken shape, Zacher’s son, Charles, 9, said he was getting excited to finally see the Bear Shadow.
“All I’ve heard is that it’s shaped like a bear and it’s really cool to watch,” said Charles.
Dana Foreman has recently delved into photography and made her way from Old Fort, N.C. to watch the spectacle.
“A co-worker told me about it and I looked it up and thought ‘I have to photograph this,” said Foreman. “I think it’s amazing. I wish the colors were a little better but it’s better than sticks.”
Part-time Cashiers resident and artist Lisa Smith said this is something in the area that everyone should have the chance to enjoy.
“I think it’s one of the most magical things, not just here, but everywhere,” said Smith. “This particular day is one of the clearest I’ve ever seen.”
Jill Hillendale originally grew up in the area and now lives in California. She came back to visit friends and hit some of her favorite hotspots, which includes the Bear Shadow.
“It’s just so beautiful,” said Hillendale. “It’s a way to rejuvenate and come back to who you are. And why we’re here.”
Editor’s Note: The shadow did not begin to resemble a bear (or an animal) until about 5:50 p.m. on Oct. 21. The pull offs for the scenic overlook are along Hwy 64 just after the second entrance to Wildcat Cliffs Country Club if you’re coming from Highlands. It’s a tight curve and drivers are tempted to look out over at Whiteside Mountain while navigating the turn. Plus the area tends to get crowded at this time of year, I recommend getting there early and taking your time setting up your photography gear. It’s never fun setting up your fragile and expensive gear with cold hands all the while wondering if a car is going to round the curve and take you out. This phenomenon occurs around dusk so vision is not great at this time of day. It’s basically a driver’s-ed nightmare. I wore a bright yellow shirt over my jacket, I looked ridiculous but I felt it gave me that extra boost of safety I needed.
Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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