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S: Great Smoky Mountains Summer 2011

FC: Great Smoky Mountains National Park | Summer Vacation 2011

1: Our tentative itinerary

2: Its lofty peaks, its great variety of plants and animals, and its rich cultural heritage entice more people to this national park than any other in the United States. | The Appalachian Mountain Range stretches from eastern Canada to Alabama. The great Smokies, with 16 peaks over 6,000 feet tall, are among the highest mountains in the entire range.

3: The Great Smoky Mountains are named for the blue haze that often surrounds them. The haze comes from the water vapor and hydrocarbons given off by the trees. To the Cherokees, this was Shaconage, the place of blue smoke.

4: So many things to see and experience. Forests cloak the Great Smoky Mountains from the deepest valleys to the loftiest summits. These diverse woodlands harbor 99 species of native trees, over 200 varieties of birds, 67 mammals, and some 1,500 different wildflowers, shrubs, ferns, and grasses.

5: So much cool on such a hot day.

6: Very wet and happy | Dry and happy | We hiked to Laurel Falls. It didn't look like it would rain. Jim brought an umbrella just in case. A mile in, the skies opened up. We squished together under one umbrella. Jim was the only one who managed to stay dry.

7: Rocks were carved and roots were exposed because of all the rainfall. | The hike to Laurel Falls.

8: As I ventured to the wood, I stopped to draw on dewy air; let Droplets shimmer in my hair, that Rested on my tranquil head as In a sense of cozy bed... As I ventured to the wood, A fallow deer of limpid eye Gave care to glance at lucky I. The heavenly aura 'bout her glow had Charmed me, like a fine Bordeaux. As I ventured to the wood, A dazzling flower waved her face In blazing show of dance and chase, and Reddened bright in shade of dawn, she Flirted like a prancing fawn. As I ventured to the wood, A butterfly had graced my arm, And knowing I bid him no harm, he Splayed for me hypnotic wing in Colors for to urge me sing. As I ventured to the wood, The radiant sun shone down on me. He flushed and beamed ‘I say to thee, You bless your land; be filled with pride, and Cherish e'er yon countryside.’ Copyright © Mark R Slaughter 2009

9: The 75-foot stair-stepping falls is named for the mountain laurel shrubs which bloom in the vicinity each May.

10: The water was cold; the rocks were smooth and flat.

11: Cooling off and skipping rocks in the Little Pigeon River. Temperatures stayed in the nineties for most of the week.

13: They needed a scarecrow. | I'm not sure who I'm putting my arm around. | How much wood could a woodchuck chuck...

14: Clingmans Dome, at 6,643 elevation, is the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains. The tower rises above the forest affording a magnificent view of the mountains. It is reached by a strenuous half-mile walk from the parking area.

15: Visibility was zero. It was such a strange sensation to be up so high that we were in a raincloud; especially when it started to rain.

16: Pigeon Forge

17: Carolyn had a great 1st time driving experience. | We were hot and tired. It was a perfect night for go-carting. The track was wooden with spiraling ramps. So fun.

18: Even though it was still hot in the evenings, camping just isn't camping unless you build a fire and roast marshmallows. | Andrew and Jeremy were the fire keepers for the week.

19: Our home sweet home for the week. | Carolyn found a cicada shell. Somehow it ended up in her bed. Hmmm...

20: White water rafting on the Pigeon River...

22: Cades Cove was a day of great beauty and history.

23: Andrew's horse was named Dusty. Jeremy's horse was named Cinder. Carolyn's horse was named Fawn. We rode through rivers and around the mountain. We were the only ones in the woods. There were several deer and so much beauty among the trees and flowers. | Wild turkey in the field near the stables

24: For the beauty of the earth, For the glory of the skies; For the love which from our birth, Over and around us lies; Lord of all, to Thee we raise This, our hymn of grateful praise. by Folliott S. Pierpoint, 1864

25: A cute little brown bat slept as Carolyn took the picture. | John Oliver arrived in the cove prior to 1820 and bought this land in 1826. The round logs first were scored along their length with a felling ax, then hewn with a broad ax. The notched corners need no nails or pegs; gravity holds them together. Chinks were filled with mud to seal out wind, snow and rain. The stone chimney is held together with mud mortar.

26: Primitive Baptist Church. Some of the earliest settlers established this church in 1827. The ceiling was built using yellow pine which allowed the room to resonate for the non-instrumental singing of worship music. As we looked at the ceiling we could still see hand and finger prints that had been left as the sap from the wood ran onto the hands of the men who held the boards in place.

27: We saw a bear. Biologists estimate that over 1,000 black bears live in the 800-square-mile Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Bears in the Smokies are relatively small, with adults averaging 100-300 pounds. The one that we saw was about 30 to 40 feet from the car. We did NOT get out of the car, but many others did. The ranger quickly came and moved everyone along. | Is it Bigfoot?

28: Gregg-Cable house. In 1887, Rebecca Cable bought the house from Leason Gregg and the acre their father had sold to Gregg eight years earlier. Rebecca owned more than 600 acreas of land when she died in 1940 at the age of 96. After her death the house was moved from its original site on the Forge Creek Road to the Mill area. | Baby Swallows peeked over their nest as Carolyn snapped the picture. | Cable Mill. John P. Cable built a water-powered grist mill and sawmill in about 1870. The same wheel provided power for both mills. It is still a working mill.

29: Getting ready for a picnic lunch. | Puddling butterflies.

30: We were so grateful for the river that wound along side the road. It was a fun and relaxing way to cool off at the end of some very hot days.

31: A day in Gatlinburg | Rockstar | This sign was posted in the jerky store. Jeremy enjoyed the buffalo jerky while Andrew and Jim tried the gator. Carolyn and I opted out.

32: Hillbilly Golf | Going up on the tram. | We golfed our way down the mountain among the shady trees.

33: A hole in one.

34: Hiking the Lumber Ridge Trail to an unnamed waterfall.

35: Carolyn spotted three salamanders and this snake. | Climbing around the waterfall.

36: Riding in the truck to our steep destination. | Getting ready for the first jump.

37: Carolyn | First one to take the leap

38: Andrew | Makin' it look easy

39: Jeremy | Flippin' upside down

40: A two hour tubing adventure down the Little River on our last day.

41: Packed and ready for the road trip home.

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