Waterfalls, Mountains, & Bears!

Trip Start Jul 21, 2012
Trip End Sep 24, 2012

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Where I stayed
Blue Mist Cabins
What I did
Cade's Cove
Rich Mountain
Grotto Falls

Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Monday, August 6, 2012

Today we began exploring the park by car, the weather really hasn't been cooperating with us so the car has worked out as a better medium that our feet. It rained early morning with a break mid-morning through lunchtime and then right as we started hiking in the afternoon....down poured.

We began our day with the Cade's Cove loop even though we heard it was touristy. We saw a few pre-Civil War era churches with cemeteries that housed tombstones that were so old most of the etchings had faded. We were a bit disappointed that pets were not allowed on most trails in the park, and were beginning to wonder why until we saw a baby bear (mother sure to be close by) near a green field on our drive. Sailor went nuts even from the car, I'm now beginning to think he's a bear hunting dog...good for Colorado. We also had a fun run in with a group of horses. Sailor (thinks) he loves horses, and finally made a friend today. Unfortunately Sailor underestimated the size of horses and was a bit freaked out, we caught a couple of funny pictures.

About halfway through the loop we decided to veer off, even though we had experienced the best views of the trip (see the pictures with the green meadows and bright blue skies...we had had enough of the tourists and traffic. We decided to detour up Rich Mountain Road, a mountain pass, gravel road that offers great depths into the forest of the Smokies.

For the afternoon, we explored the Roaring Fork Motor trail. The trail was full of history with cabins, churches, and old mining shacks alongside many rivers and waterfalls. As I mentioned before, it rained most of the afternoon but this trail was the perfect activity for a rainy day. We trekked up the Trilium Gap trail to Grotto Falls in the middle of the storm. I honestly don't mind hiking in the rain, it reminds me of our honeymoon in Costa Rica. Plus it usually drives the tourists and beginners away. Not on this trail.

Trilium Gap trail and Grotto Falls itself was beautiful. It was scenic, serene, and quiet (at least that what I imagined). Unfortunately a loud group of tourists ruined the atmosphere with their screaming, yelling, and splashing in the falls. As I'm watching them swim through the river and play...I wondered had they read any of those five news stories over the last year of tourists dying in mountain rivers and waterfalls? I guess not. Enough griping, the hike was totally beautiful and worth it.

After our hike we ventured into Gatlinburg for a while.  If Pigeon Forge if Atlantic City meets the mountains, then Gatlinburg is definitely like Ocean City's boardwalk meets the mountains. Between Ripley's Believe it Or Not, tattoo parlors, and pancake houses we didn't know which to visit first.

Wore ourselves out and called it in early night in preparation for our hike to the top of Mt. LeConte tomorrow. With a 3,000 foot gain over 11 miles we'll definitely need it.
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