Sunday, June 12, 2011

Great Smoky Mountain Camping Trip

Well, friends, we are back from our camping trip and had a fantastic time! Even though we were only gone for five days, it felt like a real vacation. I find that camping always does that for me.
This time around, I am not sure what I loved best. Our little nest that stayed dry even during torrential downpours (oh, did we have some good storms while there!),
or the delicious meals we cooked on our trusty camp stove and on the campfire.
Or maybe it was reading by the fire long after the sun had set.
And then there was the mountain stream that gurgled past our campsite and lulled us to sleep every night.
Some other favorites were the old buildings we found in the park, like this old grist mill close to our campsite,

complete with a still functioning sluice.
One day we drove over tall mountain and very windy gravel roads into the beautiful Cataloochee Valley.
There we saw a gorgeous old farmstead, built in 1903 with an old barn,
and a beautiful house.
Inside all walls were paneled with wood,
except one room that had been wall papered with old newspapers.
Loved those colors!
Aside from the farmstead, we visited the old Palmer church
which was simple on the inside
and beautifully maintained!
And then there was the two-room school house! I guess around 1910, there were 1,200 people living in this valley!
One of my very, very favorite things on this trip were the grand vistas of the Smokies.

Makes you just want to stare and soak it all up forever more!
About 12:30 every afternoon (very punctual!), storm clouds would gather and it would start thundering. Sometimes the storms passed us by, but other times they would unload right over our campsite. One time we were in our car on the road and had to pull over because we couldn't see a thing between the torrential rain and the hail! Luckily, they never lasted long and then sun always came back out.
Then there were times when I cracked myself up! Here I was posing for a photo at Newfound Gap road.
I heard something below and was hoping it might be a bear,
but it was only a squirrel...
On our way back from Cataloochee Valley, we drove a short distance on the gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway,
 where we saw a female elk (sorry the picture isn't very good),
and many flame azaleas still in bloom.
Actually, it was the plants and some of the wildlife that had us oohing and aahing all day long.

Plus, we hiked on a few trails and I kept wondering who determined whether they were easy, moderate or strenuous...
Some of the ones marked easy had me falling out of my shoes they were so steep in places,

and some of the moderate ones seemed no different from the easy trails.
We saw some beautiful little waterfalls along the way!

This was on our last day when we decided to walk a few miles on the famous Appalachian Trail.
We started at Newfound Gap parking lot and walked a couple of miles along the ridge.
The trail starts in Georgia and ends in Maine, 2,180 miles later. We encountered some serious hikers who were trying to walk the whole distance (it takes about five months),
but we just ambled and enjoyed the beauty all around us,
watched for birds and bears,
and admired the huge flowering rhododendron along the way.

The biggest disappointment? Even though we saw signs everywhere, the bears stayed well hidden and deep in the forest. We saw not a single one!
But there's always next year!!


  1. Oh this looks like a wonderful trip in a great landscape.
    Ich glaube ich hätte mich ein wenig vor den Bären gefürchtet, ich liebe Bären aber die sind wohl nicht zu unterschätzen

  2. Liebe Silke,

    schön, dass ihr wieder nach dieser
    Abenteuertour gut zu Hause seid.

    Frohe Pfingstgrüße
    Angela und Elisabeth

  3. What a wonderful trip, I've always wanted to go to the Smokie Mountains and now even more so. It looks like you had a great time. It is exactly the type of trip that my husband and I would take, living in a tent for 5 days, the campfire, hiking ect. I'm glad you are back though because I've missed you.

  4. Glad you are back safe and sound - though it looks to have been an absolutely wonderful trip!

  5. Oh Silke, das klingt nach einem wundervollen Trip. Danke fürs mit auf die Reise nehmen:-)

  6. Oh my friend- now I see where you have been! I'd been missing you- guess we were both traveling at about the same time--

    You have captured the beauty of the Great Smokies beautifully. Those photos bring back great memories- it's been a long time since I've been there. You and Daniel have never looked happier- great photos of you both!

    Loved your stories about the hiking trail descriptions- I can so sympathize! ( have I got a hiking trail story for you!)

    Your mountain vista pictures say it all- this county is so beautiful--
    Welcome home!

  7. So lovely to see what fun you both have had! You always go to the best places and scenery! Eyes and hearts for the best!

  8. Das sieht nach purer Erholung aus. Was für eine schöne Landschaft. Vor allem diese kleinen Wasserfälle. Ich wünsche dir und deinen Lieben noch schöne Pfingsttage.
    LG Sabine

  9. Amazingly beautiful countryside and photos Silke! (of course I would have died after one trail, but hey, I'm OLD!)
    I ♥LOVE♥ that picture of the raven walking! What a perfect shot!
    A lovely travelogue in photos....
    Welcome back to real life now...*Sigh*


  10. wow Silke...looks like an amazingly joyful and relaxing trip. Your photos are wonderful...your smile, pure radiance!

  11. Was für eine tolle Landschaft. Die Bilder sind traumhaft. Dir schöne Tage und viel Erfolg für deine Zeichenklasse. Du machst ja unglaubliche Fortschritte - ich freue mich immer auf neue Zeichungen. Liebe Grüße, Inge

  12. Wonderful photos--I love everything about camping EXCEPT the sleeping on the ground part!! My back just can't take it anymore, even with an air mattress!

  13. glad you had such a good time! i'd love to hike the appalachian trail, but unlike you i don't like seeing bears in the wild, unless it's from the saftey of a car!

    i'm so impressed how put together you look camping silke, i always feel (and look) a mess!

  14. Looks like you had a wonderful time. We have not been camping in ages, too much to do around here, but it would probably be the best break for us. The Cataloochee Valley is the are where my great grandmother was from or so my grandmother just told me last week. Interesting that you showed photos from that area. Nothing like hanging out by a campfire too.....

  15. Wow, Silke! Wonderful photos of a memorable camping trip. I'm not much for camping, but I sure would enjoy those streams, waterfalls, and the flora and fauna. It looks SO relaxing. I am yearning for some relaxation... Actually, it has been so hot here, I would like to lay down in one of those streams and stay there for a while. hahaha
    Glad you had a great time!
    ♥ audrey

  16. Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful photos from your camping trip! You look so relaxed!!! :) Such beautiful flowers and interesting little creatures. :) That is always the fun stuff to discover during hikes!