Sunday, August 25, 2013

Great Smoky Mountains, Part 2: Laurel Falls, Clingman's Dome and a Bear Who Likes Donuts

On the fourth day of our getaway, we hiked to Laurel Falls. This is probably the most popular trail in the national park because it's paved and pretty easy. While the waterfall at the end was gorgeous, we did not enjoy the crowds!
We saw more colorful fungi along the trail.
At Laurel Falls! We actually managed to take our picture without any other people in the way, which was quite a feat.
That night we were awakened about 2 a.m. to the sounds of a black bear trying to make off the with cabin's outside trash bin. It was chained closed, but he still managed to paw almost everything out and roll it down the wooded hill in front of the cabin. We watched him from the porch for a few minutes, then made some noise to scare him off. It was so amazing to be just feet away from a black bear -- I just wish it had been daytime so we could have gotten a picture. (P.S. Apparently bears like Krispy Kremes!)
We took it easy the next morning (it was hard to get back to sleep after the excitement of our bear encounter!), then went to the Apple Barn for an after-lunch treat: cold apple cider, apple stack cake for Jarrod and an apple dumpling for me. After our sugary sustenance, we drove the Arts and Crafts Loop and bought a few cool handmade items.
On day 6, we planned to hike to Clingman's Dome, which is purported to have some of the best views in the park. We wouldn't know, because it was super foggy.
We actually did do the half-mile-ish (rather steep, huff-and-puff-inducing!) hike up to the Clingman's Dome observation tower, and were greeted with this stunning view! We'll definitely have to try again next time we visit the park, because those views do look amazing.
Here's the iconic observation tower.
The Clingman's Dome hike is connected to the Appalachian Trail. Maybe someday we'll hike it. Jarrod doesn't think I could hack it... so of course I want to prove him wrong! (Although I will make him read Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" first so he knows what we're getting into!)
"Why did the fog cross the road?"
Since the weather was so crummy after our Clingman's Dome hike, we decided to drive over to Cherokee, North Carolina, on the eastern edge of the national park. On the Indian reservation is a short path to stunning Mingo Falls. This was our favorite waterfall from our trip!

1 comment:

  1. Very pretty waterfalls. I love the pictures of the flowers and the fog.
    Fun time for all.


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