The following image shows the lights of two seperate ATVs on Trail #2 atop Brown Mountain between 8:31 pm and 9:02 pm on December 31, 2014. The ATVs traveled southward (left-to-right) on the rugged one-way trail and stayed fairly close together during the trip.
Two ATVs traveling together on Trail # 2 atop Brown Mountain
The convoluted trace of Trail # 2 is apparent from the line of lights. Only about 1 mile of Trail # 2 is visible within the field of view of this photo. Compare this image with earlier posts of similar ATV lights visible along the trail on Aug 16, 2014 & my handheld spotlight as I hiked the trail on Dec 11, 2014.
ATV Trail # 2 is part of the US Forest Service's Brown Mountain Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area (34 miles of maintained ATV trails atop Brown Mountain). The Recreation Area is open to ATVs from mid-March until Jan 1 each year; thus these were perhaps the last ATVs on the mountian until spring time. This was not a staged light test and the riders are unknown.
Our BML research team has conducted numerous light tests on Brown Mountain over the past two years and has established that back-country user lights are readily visible at night. Lights such as these are probably frequently misinterpreted as mystery lights by uninformed and unprepared observers viewing from the popular observation sites like the NC Hwy 181 Overlook and Wiseman's View.