Friday, June 22, 2012

Elkmont TTA Camping Trip

Joan Hartvigsen from Highland Rim TTA planned a camping/day hiking trip to the Smokies. Sara Pollard and Tony Jones from M’Boro and Sydney from Alabama went early Friday and hiked in the Elmont area, Cucumber Gap. I had to work Friday but got off at 2 and headed to the mountains. I got to Elkmont and found the campsite, threw my gear in the tent, and took a walk around the campground and up the road toward the trails. Picked a few dew berries and a few blackberries. Got back to camp and the others returned from their hike hungry for supper. It started thundering and the sky got dark. We all got in Sydney’s Taj Mahal tent to wait out the rain. Joette dropped by to say hi. She was staying in town to hike with Upper Cumberland the next day.

When we went to bed the owls started talking. Kids in the campground were still playing with flashlights, dogs were still restless, and the campers were still loud. Another rain shower sent everyone to bed. We got up with the birds singing about the beautiful morning. Cooked breakfast and headed out. Ramsey Cascades was our destination for the day. We stopped by Sugarland Visitor Center to pick up some GSMNP stuff and look around. Then on to the trail. The trail was beautiful. We saw Bee Balm, whorled coreopsis, several other DYF, and some white ones too. The rhododendron was blooming everywhere on the trail. So pretty! We finally huffed and puffed our way to the Cascades and had lunch…with all the other hikers that came to see the Cascades. On the way back down we saw a colorful snake. No timber rattler this time. When we got off the trail, we had to drive thru Gatlinburg to get back to Elkmont. We stopped at the Hard Rock Café for supper. It was pretty tasty. We walked around for a little while and then back to the camp. We hung out for a while talking and sipping cough syrup. A fine evening.

Sunday morning, birds singing come out and play….we got up and took down the camp and headed to the next trail adventure. We went to Laurel Falls. Pretty hike and the most popular one in the Park; trail is paved and accessible to most everyone. It’s only 1.3 miles to the waterfall. Lots of folks at the falls, we seemed to be the only ones going on further. Tony decided to hang out and take pictures. The rest of us walked on. Up, up, up we were headed to Cove Mountain tower. We were walking thru virgin forest in awe of the size of the trees. Just amazing. Feel so blessed that the loggers didn’t get them all. Saw lots more Bee Balm and I think Bergamot but could have been different Bee Balm; it was white. We also found about 20 piles of bear scat. We got to the tower and had lunch while the gnats tried to have us for lunch. We headed back down and got back to the Cascades where the crowd was. There were some folks letting their children climb on the rocks so they could get pictures of them doing dangerous things. Ignorance is bliss. Either that or they didn’t read the signs saying CONTROL YOUR CHILDREN, Dangerous! Slippery Rocks. Back to the parking lot. No bears. Wait….what’s Tony so excited about? HE saw a bear AND got pictures. While coming down the trail from the Cascades he saw a bear!

We drove into Townsend and had ice cream and milkshakes. You’ll have to ask Tony and Sydney how big their milkshakes were.

Another beautiful weekend in the mountains.


Little River Hike Pictures:

Ramsey Cascade Hike Pictures:

Laurel Falls Hike Pictures:

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