Monday, May 2, 2016

Great Smoky Mountains NP adventure

Thursday morning I drove on the main road connecting the west side to the east side, to the highest point in the park (actually, the parking lot is about half a mile and 300 feet below the highest point), the parking lot was half full when I arrived, and there were many people heading up to the observation platform at the peak (6600 ft elevation).  I observed the phenomenon which led to the name Smoky Mountains, namely mist/fog rolling in and then disappearing and coming back again.  The seems to be related to the high humidity and the relatively abrupt changes in elevation.  Looks very much like smoke from a campfire.  You can see a bit of that in one of the photos. 

I then continued on to the east side of the park, ending up in Cherokee, North Carolina, on the Cherokee reservation, where the most spectacular of the waterfalls was located.  The drive to the trailhead took me past many RV campgrounds as well as Cherokee homes, about 5 miles up the river.  At the trailhead there were 3 or 4 cars, so not very crowded.  The trail was supposed to be only about a quarter of a mile, but the majority of it was stairsteps of concrete, ending just a few yards from this 80 foot waterfall. 
The drive back across the mountain was again pretty spectacular, traveling through dense deciduous forest in a green leafy tunnel.  No wildlife today. 

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