First stop was Newfound Gap located on the state line between NC and TN as well as being on The Appalachian Trail . We saw many hikers who paused in their jaunt at this lookout point paid for, in part, by the Rockefeller family.
It was here that during our brief stay, we first experienced the amazing effects of the 'smoke' and the sunlight and the clouds as they interacted over these majestic verdant mountains.
First was a gentle climb up to Cataract Falls,
strolling along well paved, winding walkways and seeing
the forest as nature had sculpted it.
Later in the day we drove to see Laurel Falls and more opportunities for photos :-)
We who have a need to name things, speculated as to what these abundant flowering bushes were called. I thought maybe some sort of wild crabapple. Turns out they are Mountain Laurel. Countless stories set in the southeastern mountains have included reference to their
beauty ...and I never knew what it looked like. These forests are deeply shaded with tall straight trees...and nowhere where we ever far from water. Rain in the forest is different from rain in the grassy everglades of Florida in that rain can be heard before it ever is felt and then it continues to be felt long after it stops falling...the dense canopy creates that buffer while maintaining humidity at ground level where myriad plants have found their moist niche.
Friday 6/7/13. After breakfast our 4-gen troop piled into the van and off we went to explore some of the waterfalls of the Gatlinburg area. All along the way our road followed the mountain streams such as this.