Cherokee to Cherokee via Great Smokey Mountains NP
We get up this morning and once again have the complimentary breakfast before heading out into the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, a short 8 minutes to the Park Entrance. We arrive before the Park opens so we just drive in. We spot some elk just inside the entrance and keep going. The traffic is sparse, just to our liking. The weather is overcast and spitting rain but that doesn’t deter us. As we climb into the hills we get glimpses of foggy overlooks and we hope for the sun to come out. Not to be had, at least this morning. Foggier and foggier it gets as we climb. So this is why they call this area the “Great Smokey Mountains”! The fog appears like smoke and is beautiful to look at!
We come to the road to Clingmans Dome, an overlook from the top and the border of two States, along with the route of the famous “AP” (The Appalachian Trail, which yours truly has hiked 400 miles of in my younger years although not this section) but we choose not to go to at the moment due to severe fog and we drive on towards Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
We get to the Sugarlands Visitor Center and acquire the info that we missed at the other entrance that was closed when we entered this morning and we decide to drive to Cades Cove and go through the loop there. It’s a long yet enjoyable drive that is quite scenic. Once in the loop, the traffic comes to a halt and it turns out it is because of a mama bear and 3 cubs that we never get to see. Once the traffic gets moving again, a half hour later we get stuck behind 5 cars again because of a young bear. We get to see this one, but alas, we get no photos as the bear is too quick and the camera angle is too difficult.
So we get moving again and head back across the pass and this time the pass is clear and we stop at Clingman’s Dome and walk the half mile trail to the top and access the tower there for views of the valley below right before the fog and storms cover it up. Elee even stands on the marker that shows her in both Tennessee and North Carolina at the same time! So we hoof it down to the parking lot before the rains set in and head back to Cherokee for the night.
We find an American Indian Restaurant for an IPA and a cold Cider and Dinner and we are tucked in for the night! See you all tomorrow!