Saturday, August 9, 2014

Smoky Mountain National Park: Bears, Waterfalls, Relaxation

Back in May we took a long weekend getaway to one of our favorite places, Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee. Other than sitting on a stunningly beautiful mostly-deserted beach on Kauai, I've never felt more at peace than in the Smokies. There are rivers everywhere, and this time we stayed in a historic cabin that was directly situated on Roaring Fork River. Falling asleep to the rushing of the water every night was such a treat. I meant to post these pictures a few months ago, but better late than never!
We were lucky to see a black bear happily minding his own business while we were hiking back from Grotto Falls. It was the most exciting part of our trip by far! Last time we visited the Smokies we glimpsed a bear in the middle of the night when he was attempting to raid the trash can at our cabin, but it was thrilling to see a bear during the day, not that far off the trail.
Roaring Fork Motor Trail and Cades Cove boast tons of historical structures.
Cades Cove. We like to bring a picnic lunch and find a scenic spot to stop and eat while we're driving around the beautiful loop.
I was hoping to spot some wildflowers on our trip. We didn't see a ton, but I was thrilled to find this pink lady's slipper. What a cool flower!
We did the 5-mile roundtrip hike to Abrams Falls and I definitely recommend it. The falls, while only 20 feet tall, are stunning in their pure volume of water.
One of a couple old grist mills in the area.
We rode the Gatlinburg Sky Lift -- what a fun time! While I wouldn't suggest bringing dogs or infants on the lift like some people did (!!) it was a fun and relaxing little diversion. The views from the top are great.
One of Jarrod's goals for the trip was to catch a rare brook trout. Rainbow trout are stocked weekly and are fairly abundant, and brook trout are all native and much more elusive. Jarrod ended up catching four or five -- and of course he let them all go. They're such pretty fish -- I love the red and yellow speckles!

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