Waterfalls and cubs and tourists, oh my.

When camping in Smoky Mountains there’s often this impressive winds that come through during the night.  You can hear them coming from miles away, gusting and roaring through the mountains.  I imagine if you went  up a tree and had good night vision, you could see the tree tops sway all those miles away, the movement rippling ahead of the wind like a tide.  The roar of it gets louder and louder as it approaches, almost scary by the time it arrives, and then the trees around you creak and rustle violently. 

I’ve tent camped here and had the wind blow my tent flat to the ground.  Camping in my Element rocks me back and forth, but not flattening. 🙂  But all that wind, and perhaps my drive down to TN, left me dreaming of Tornadoes all night long.

When I headed out at 6 am there was a very large tree downed in the road, but thankfully only blocking one lane.   I spent a good part of the morning photographing along Middle Prong Little River and then Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.  I love wandering off the road at Roaring Fork- often no one else wants to bother to get out of thier car, so its quiet and peaceful.  At both locations I was very happy with my results.

I had a very late lunch at my favorite restaurant in Gatlinburg.  Los Rancheros is never crowded, always clean, the food is cheap and filling and decent.  The services is generally good (and REALLY good if they make a mistake and you are nice about correcting them, haha).  They have a small vegetarian selection in thier menu and so far they are the only vegetarian friendly place I’ve found in all of Gatlingburg/Pigeon Forge and Townsend.  And, I found out at lunch, they have free wifi. I also had enough food left over for dinner.

I spent the late afternoon and evening up at Clingman’s Dome.  Its really the best idea EVER if the heat starts getting to you at the lower elevations.  It was in the 80s in Gatlinburg. I had to put on my jacket at Clingmans Dome. 

On my way down from Clingman’s Dome there were a very young cub grazing on a hill.  A very fortunate encounter as far as roadside encounters go since there were not 2 million tourists running into the woods to photograph him with disposable cameras, so I had a good five minutes of decent work (I hope), before some dummy decided they wanted to get closer and scared him off. 

I have to say that of all the places I’ve been, I’ve not seen any tourists more foolish than the ones here in TN.  A couple of  years ago I saw a man walk right up to an angry black  bear, laughing when it growled, reared up and stamped its front feet and made small charges at him.  The man was ducking behind a tree, finding it all hysterically funny and if it werent for the park’s policy on euthanizing any bears who hurt people, I’d have wished the bear to bite him and teach him a lesson. 

I love the beauty of the Smoky Mountains and the friendly people I meet here.  I do not always like the more foolish people I come across, but I strive not to run them over. 😉

I’m spending the night at the Elmont campground sketching away and listening to my Dresden Files audio books and will head up Newfound Gap Road in the morning to photograph the sunrise.

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