A Winter Wonderland in the Smokies
Trip Start Oct 15, 2011
12Trip End Oct 26, 2011
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We got to the parking area for Alum Cave Bluffs and found a spot. Then we packed up for our hike. We were already at a high elevation and were hiking up 2.5 miles with an elevation gain of over 1300 feet. We took our lunches and put on our warmest clothes as it was very cold when we got up this morning. At least it isn't raining. The first part of our hike took us over a stream several times
When it left the stream we started to go up more sharply. As we ascended the bridges got icy and we started to see ice on leaves. Then we saw snow on some leaves. As we got higher the snow got more plentiful until it was like walking in a wintry fairyland. We stopped to eat our sandwiches on the way but we didn't linger as we got cold sitting there. The exertion of hiking up kept us warm enough. I was glad I had two pairs of gloves with me thanks to my friend Betsy who gave me three pairs as a Christmas exchange gift when I taught at St. Charles. Thanks, Betsy!!
We came to Arch Rock and had to take rock stairs up through the arch and then a rock ledge. Slow going with all the damp leaves and melting snow. We continued going up and up till we reached a corner where we stopped for an almost 360* view. If not for the clouds just above us it would have been 360*. The view of the colors in the valley and the snow in the uplands was spectacular. After this corner the terrain got even steeper with more rocky going and finally stairs that lead to Alum Cave. We climbed up into the cave, really just an overhang of rock and had a little more to eat. Derek climbed up higher and took our picture in the cave
On the way back we stopped at Ober Gatlinburg, an amusement park and ski resort. The view from up there, above Gatlinburg, was great. They have a big pavilion that has an ice skating rink year round, lots of shops, a restaurant with an Oktoberfest menu and beers, rides for the kiddies, ski lift and alpine slide. Larry and Derek went on the alpine slide and I video recorded them. Then we went into the restaurant and had dessert and beer, I had pop. Larry got Apple Pie Cheesecake and Derek and I had Black Forest Cherry Cake. We stopped at Kroger for milk, OJ, bread and of course more beer.
Then we headed back to the cabin. I got a shower before fixing supper because I was so cold. For supper we had salad, garlic bread, and spaghetti with sausage. Larry and Derek did the dishes while I wrote this blog. Then they went out into the hot tub while I downloaded pictures. We read and then watched the weather before going to bed.