2008 Great Smoky Mountains

In May of 2008 we took a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounding areas. On this trip, we were stymied by bad weather (rain and wind) and had to cut it short by a day. However, any visit to a national park is still a good visit; looking back, we still had some good hikes and interesting encounters with wildlife.

(Click on each image to see the high-resolution version)

First, we did a couple of hikes in the park. The first one was to Laurel Falls. The nice thing about rainy weather is that waterfalls have abundant water.

Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls

We also took a short hike to Abrams Falls.

Abrams Falls

As most visitors, we made a stop at Cades Cove. John P. Cable Mill is a working grist mill that gives people a glimpse of a bygone era.

John P. Cable Mill

It was at Cades Cove what we had our most exciting wildlife encounters. The following is a Wild Turkey.

Wild Turkey

But the more exciting encounter was seeing a Black Bear at the edge of the woods. This was one of the highlights of our trip.

Black Bear

Black Bear

On another day, we made a stop at Mingus Mill, another working grist mill where they actually demonstrate the grinding of corn into cornmeal.

Mingus Mill

We followed the road and entered North Carolina at Fontana Lake, a reservoir formed by Fontana Dam.

Fontana Lake

Fontana Dam

On our last day in the park, we climbed up to Clingmans Dome. At 6,643 feet (2,025 m), it is the highest mountain in the Smokies, the highest point in the state of Tennessee, and the highest point along the Appalachian Trail. They even built an observation tower on top of it, and the view is panoramic. However, you can see a lot of dead Fraser Firs ravaged by balsam woolly adelgids, which put a somber mood to this view.

Clingmans Dome

Clingmans Dome

We drove to Chimney Rock State Park in North Carolina, hoping to climb the famed peak. However, due to high wind, the trail was closed on this day.

Chimney Rock State Park

Chimney Rock

Our last visit on this trip was to Biltmore Estate. In their livestock pen, we saw this very friendly (and pretty) donkey.


A couple of shots of Biltmore Estate itself. Just so happens, the Wienermobile was also paying a visit.

Biltmore Estate

Biltmore Estate

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