Dear friends, I am sitting at the dinette in Cloud Nine, the windows open, a cool breeze touching my skin, the rich aroma of coffee filling the space around me.
It has been a magical week in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, the artistry of the Creator in fine form. We’ve seen morning temperatures in the 30’s and put the quilts I keep on board to good use. But it doesn’t take long for the sun to warm the earth, leaving us with perfect October days in which to forage about.
Since we tend to travel by the seat of our pants, we don’t often make reservations ahead of time. This can be a curse yet we’ve always managed to make it work, and such was the case here. The first three days of our stay in Pigeon Forge found us at our long-time favorite KOA campground, but then we had to move, and I think it was a blessing in disguise. We found a park that we’ve passed many times in our years of returning here, positioned in the foothills, with a mountain side for a backdrop. It has quickly become our new favorite place.
See that cabin behind us?
On Tuesday, I told The Man, "Let's go find that cabin."
And so we did, winding our way up narrow, shady roads, through hues of orange and crimson and yellow and gold.
If you ever come to the Great Smoky Mountains, you must set aside a few days for exploring, no matter your age. There's so much beauty to behold and it would be a shame not to see it.
On Thursday, The Man and I headed out for a day of adventure, to see what we could see and do what we could do in "them thar hills." Our first stop was Newfound Gap, a mountain pass situated on the Tennessee/North Carolina state lines. A kind tourist offered to take our photo.
Newfound Gap is a popular stopping point and the parking lot was overflowing on this day.
The seven-mile drive from Newfound Gap to Clingmans Dome is quite curvy and, on a brilliant autumn day, crowded with like-minded folks. The closer you get to the top, the slower the traffic moves.
But the drive is well worth it. Once we parked, we decided to hike the half-mile trek to the summit. Between The Man’s Achilles heel issue, and my bad knees, we were a couple of pokey people, but we had plenty of fellow-pokies, of all ages, to keep us company along the way. There are benches every few feet, for pacing yourself, and we put those to good use. At one point, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, but I had no thought of turning back.
Clingmans Dome, is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains, the highest point in Tennessee, the highest point along the Appalachian Trail, and the third highest summit east of the Mississippi River—6,643 feet above sea level.
The reward is well worth the journey, the views from the observation platform are nothing short of spectacular! And when the conditions are just right (which isn’t often) you can see 100 miles and beyond. If you want to know how it feels to be "on top of old Smoky," it feels invigorating!
On the downhill hike, I stopped and took a zoomed shot of the distant slopes, all adorned in autumn's glory. I thought of the Scripture that says: "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof."
Well, dear friends, I hope I'm not boring you too much with my postcards from the road; for every one I post, there are dozens that I don't, as a little restraint is always in order.
Until next time, thanks for keeping me company here and for sharing this journey with me.