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.
We also took a short hike to Abrams Falls.
John P. Cable Mill
It was at Cades Cove what we had our most exciting wildlife encounters. The following is a 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.
On another day, we made a stop at Mingus Mill, another working grist mill where they actually demonstrate the grinding of corn into cornmeal.
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.
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
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.