The bald at the summit of Big Yellow Mountain, elevation 4,535 ft. Grandfather Mountain in the background.
Another angle of the bald, the trail cutting through is the AT. The "natural" tree line is very abrupt. The forest here is a high elevation deciduous forest, with surprisingly few evergreens, and mostly Yellow Birch and Beech, with the occasionaly Northern Red Oak and Ash. The bald is thought to of been formed either by glaciers, or by the once common Elk which would of kept it from growing up. The open field is now managed and the land is leased so that cattle can be kept here to keep the bald from growing in.
"Dwarf Beech Forest" Along the ridge of Big Yellow Mountain, thick forests of Beech are abundant. However, these trees that are probably hundreds of years old never grow more than 3-5" thick and 20 feet tall due to the temperature and high wind. Just a few hundred yards down the side of the mountain, the same trees are 30" thick.
American Bird Grasshopper (Schistocerca americana). Can't tell from the photo but this guy was about 4" long. A true beast.