Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Road Trip Recap - Day 6 - Cades Cove and Abrams Falls

Ok, I really need to finish recapping the GSM road trip before I forget everything. Today, as I was thinking about this post I started to wonder what we did on the sixth day... was it still Smokies or did we get to Nashville by then.

Day six was our last day in The Great Smoky Mountains. The sky was little overcast and I think there was rain in the forecast. So far we had amazing weather so even little rain wasn't going to ruin what we had planned for the last day.

[Our little friends on a last day in the Smokies]

We followed the drive from Gatlinburg through Little River Road and Laurel Creek Road to Cades Cove Loop. As we drove trough the little River Road, we noticed a congested area with a lot of cars parked on the side of the road and a cluster of people watching something. I was really excited and jumped out of a car with my camera. OMG - it's a BEAR! Super handsome black bear with super shiny fur was roaming the woods near the road. It was an amazing sight! Black bears are so pretty. They are not as big as grizzly bears, adult american black bear weights between 150-300 pounds. I was trying to snap few photos, but I was too excited and I missed most of my shots. The bear was quick, and it seemed like the crowd was little overwhelming for him. Here is one photo I was able to manage:

We got to the gates of Cades Cove Loop, back in 1800's that area was a tiny village with about 700 people living there. Park kept some of the old buildings along the cove loop, preserving them and keeping them open to the public as part of the history.

The highlight of the day was a hike to Abrams Falls. The sky was looking darker and darker by the hour. The beautiful scenery of Cades Cove looked sad and dark, covered with low hanging rain clouds. At this point nothing was going to stop us, we packed the rain coats and umbrellas and followed the 2.5 mile (one way) trail to see the falls. I've heard that people spot black bears in the Cades Cove, so we were on the lookout, but of course we did not see any on the trail.

The hiking to the falls was not difficult. Trail had a slight incline at first, leading us to the top of a mountain, and the second part was getting down the side of that mountain to the valley. Part of the trail was along the mountain stream nesteld in the thick woods of Smokies. It was very relaxing to hear the water running through rocks and boulders as we followed the trail. We arrived to our destination, and I have to say, the water fall was little bit smaller than I expected, but the veiw was beautiful. Surrounded by rocks and autumn trees, two streams of water was hitting the rocks below creating this wonderful and peaceful sight. We took some time to enjoy it before few drops of rain reminded us of another 2.5 mile hike back to the car.

I have to admit - we got really lucky! As it seemed like it was going to pour the whole 4 hours we were hiking, the real rain did not start until we were about 100 yards from the parking lot. The rest of the afternoon we spent in the car, driving in a traffic jam through Cades Cove Loop with 1764 gazillion of other cars in the pouring rain.

 [Great weather for "smooth water" waterfall shots, no ND filter, no tripod, resting the camera on the rock in the middle of a pool of water, I did have a polarizing filter on the lens]

Next morning we were leaving the Smokies. We were sad to leave, but we had an amazing few days filled with sunshine and amazing beauty of southern Appalachian. We decided to end the trip in Nashville, TN, but that's a story for another post.

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