The PRT and I finally made it to our last major stop: Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park is on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. It was not our first visit here, and I hope it was not our last. The Smoky Mountains are so beautiful. I truly love this park. Making the trip to the Smokies with us were Deborah and Gerard (Stars through the Mist). Smokies…Mist…yes, I know. It was a stretch.
By this time in the vacation we were feeling a bit worn out, so we didn’t do as much hiking as we normally would do. We drove the roads, stopped at the lookouts to admire the stunning views, and breathed in the mountain air. The Newfound Gap drive is a really nice one. On the drives, we took the time to do some of the quiet walkways. At certain pullouts, not the major viewpoints, there are signs about quiet walkways. These are short hikes that let us leave the road behind and walk out to beautiful spots. The hikes are usually just a quarter mile or so, and I love them. Most people just ignore these little walks. We did do one fun little hike: Clingmans Dome. Clingmans Dome is the highest peak in the park. A STEEP half mile hike from the visitor center leads to the observation tower. On a good clear day the view stretches 100 miles. The day we walked up? Fog rolled in, so we had a really nice view of the inside of a cloud. We hung around for at least thirty minutes, but the fog stayed. I still enjoyed it.
We really enjoyed watching the bears, deer, and wild turkeys.
One more installment to come…