From the Sublime to the Ridiculous!

We decided to spend our anniversary weekend in Gatlinburg Tennessee this year. As in our trip to Myrtle Beach, people made some interesting comments about it… And now I know why!!! It is a small town squeezed between mountains and it is absolutely jammed with tourist attractions. From garish airbrushed t-shirts to beautiful handmade crafts,( tucked in the middle of downtown Gatlinburg is Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, one of the premier places to take workshops with nationally known craftspeople), from the old time photo places and magnet stores, to the views of the Smokies, it is a contrast! Dollywood is a few miles away and it has lots more space to attract huge tourist attractions, Dollywood being only one of them.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the only free national park in the country and it was very busy. {It’s nice to know that some drag their kids away from the fudge shops and haunted houses to enjoy the natural beauty of the mountains!} We took several hikes and enjoyed them all. On Sunday it was raining and breezy when we got to a trailhead at the base of Clingman’s Dome. The view of the mountains looked like this – so gorgeous, isn’t it?

The Great Smoky Mountains

The forest was cool and dark and so green. The rain made the tiny rivulets bigger and they gurgled as they meandered along the trail. There were lots of mushrooms to discover. These great orange guys are very evident in all the green and brown of the forest floor.

Amanita muscaria?

Amanita muscaria?

I spent many Summers in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania going to camp and was excited to see these Indian pipes just emerging. As little girls we loved all the tiny plants in the woods behind our cabins and would build little villages for the newts around the Indian pipes and mushrooms.

Indian pipes

Indian pipes

I am not a mushroom person and have done my best to find out the names of the fungus we saw. I have also seen this ruffly white guy on Paris Mountain here in Greenville but cannot find any pictures that look like him. Any mycologists know the name?

White ruffled mushroom

White ruffled mushroom

Towards the beginning of the trail, I was looking left and right to see what I could see when a Junco flew in front of me, about ankle height and it really startled me. On the way back the same thing happened and I stopped and said to Peter, “There must be a nest here” and we both bent over. He found it by making whistling noises and we saw two little beaks opening for food. The nest was indeed around my ankles under the rocks and in the mosses and ferns beside the trail. She really needn’t have flown out because we never would have seen her.

Junco nest

Junco nest

By the end of our hike, the sky had cleared and the Smokies were pretty clear! We hiked the rest of the way up the trail to Clingman’s Dome which is the highest peak in Tennessee.

Great Smoky Mountains

And then we headed to Gatlinburg for a well deserved beer…

4 thoughts on “From the Sublime to the Ridiculous!

    • Ha! I should have been clearer about the weather for the hike… We assumed that G would be cooler because it’s in the mountains, but it was very hot! 95 and humid. The day of the hike is was less hot! We hiked in sneakers because we haven’t gotten new hiking boots yet and that was hard at the end. I like nice, stiff soles. The Smokies are so pretty!


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