Great Smoky Mountains
National Park
May 8-9, 2006
A beautiful tree in Cades Cove
Cole, the hiking cat, doesn't heed the trail closure signs!

Part two of my Smokies trip!

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On Monday PanamaRob and I drove from Dahlonega, GA up through a little corner of North
Carolina and then into Tennessee and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The roads
going into the park remind me of home because they are very twisty and turny!  The drive
was a beautiful one.  I think North Carolina would be the Jeopardy answer to "This state is
the greenest one in the United States."  Or maybe, "In this state you can find every shade
of green in existence."  Tennessee was also very green...

Once we got into the park we drove to the Cades Cove Campground and found a nice site,
set up our tents, paid the fee, grabbed a bite to eat at the campground store, then took a
drive around the Cove.  The one way loop drive is a popular one but since it was a week day
we didn't run into too many traffic jams.  Cades Cove is usually crawling with tourists and
wildlife.  We saw dozens and dozens of tourists and deer, a handful of wild turkeys, a
rabbit, a pileated woodpecker, more tourists, a coyote, a fox, and five bears in four drives
around the Cove.   If you go bring your zoom lens because there are lots of opportunities
for wildlife photography!  There are also beautiful wildflowers, trees (there are more
species of trees in this park than all of northern Europe!), meadows, creeks, views of the
mountains, and historic cabins.

On Tuesday morning we hiked the 5-mile roundtrip hike to Abrams Falls.  We saw only a
couple of people on the way in but there were dozens heading in as we were hiking out.  I
don't know why, but I was surprised how many were not at all prepared to do a 5 mile
moderately-strenuous hike!  They were wearing flip flops and had no water and obviously
didn't see the large sign at the beginning of the trail warning them it would be a 3-4 hour
hike.

The falls were beautiful and roaring fast!  They were like a mini-Niagara Falls.  We saw
lots of pretty flowers on the way in and out including Dicentra or Bleeding Heart right at
the falls.  It was the first Dicentra I'd seen growing in the wild :)
Cades Cove is ringed by mountains and is a peaceful place...
at least during the week!
At dusk we saw lots of wildlife
A coyote or a fox in the distance (the jury's still out)
We also saw 5 bears this evening, including a mother with three
cubs, but it was too dark for my photos to turn out!
In the morning we saw a Pileated Woodpecker
Unknown flower above, Clover below
Phacelia
Hey, when I was a Park Ranger we didn't get to ride motorcycles!
This is still a working Grist Mill
I think this is bird's foot violet, above
Sweet white violet, below
Lizard's Tail, above
Mountain Laurel, below
Dicentra, aka Bleeding Heart
A type of Trillium
Abrams Falls