Tennessee Vacation – Great Smokey Mountains Grotto Falls, Laurel Falls, Chimney Tops

I forgot to mention that Sweet Sweet and I also went hiked to a place called Grotto Falls in the last post, which ended up being a complete beating with way too many people. It was a two mile hike and the worst part about it was that two miles is short enough that just about any person can hike without problem, which means that all of the smokers and overweight folks seem to relish in the accomplishment by taking a ton of pictures and generally lounging around feeling very proud of themselves. I know, I shouldn’t make fun of overweight folks (and 90% of the people who we saw were probably overweight), but I am.

This is the only clear picture I could take . . .

While this is what we really looked at.

We left after about 5 minutes.

The next day, Sweet Sweet and I wanted to start things right and we went to another falls called Laurel Falls. This was a paved path and during the day this place was packed with cars, but we were the second group up and it was all ours for the 10 minutes that we were there.

Our final hike was on a trail called Chimney Tops. This was, by far, the toughest trail we hiked the whole trip, so it was fitting that it was our final trail. Nearly all uphill the entire way.

Here’s Sweet Sweet.

A river runs through it.

So we get to the top, or what we think is the top, and we realize that there is some really steep and slick rock that needs to be climbed in order to get to the top-top. I decide to traverse as far as I can.

You can see Sweet Sweet at the very bottom.

The views from where I sat.

This guy was at the top.

And he took my picture too.

My last pictures of the trip.

Sweet Sweet and I lounged by the pool that afternoon as we decided to stay one more night in Gatlinburg. We drove 17 hours the next day all the way home.

A huge shout-out and thank you to my brother, Ryan, who watched Blue and Zoey while we were away. Much love.

Tennessee Vacation – Great Smokey Mountains, Clingman’s Dome and Andrew’s Bald

So Sweet Sweet and I are up early the next morning to tackle The Great Smokey Mountains and our first stop is Clingman’s Dome, which is the highest point in the Great Smokey Mountains. It’s quite a drive up to the top, but well worth it.

At some point, there’s this nice parking lot and incredible views so we think to ourselves that we should get out an take a few pictures. This is the view getting out of our car.

Sweet Sweet and I (BTW, it was close to 50 degrees this morning).

The vistas.

Then we realize that we’re actually there at Clingman’s Dome, the path was just around the bend a bit. Back into the car.

The walk to the top of this observation deck is only 0.5 miles, but this was the freaking toughest 0.5 miles I’ve ever walked. The walk was at a very steep grade and I was actually winded when we got to the top.

Here’s Clingman’s Dome.

Sweet Sweet and I at the top of Clingman’s Dome.

Some of the views from the structure.

We walk down (it was much easier getting down that going up) and there’s a 2 or 3 mile hike to a place called Andrew’s Bald. Since were were already here and there weren’t too many tourists around, we decided to start hiking and see what happens.

The path itself was very pretty.


Sweet Sweet.

Turns out a “bald” is a grassy area on the top of a mountain. It was actually incredibly beautiful because there were all of these azaleas on the top of the mountain (pink, orange, red, etc.).

Sweet Sweet and I at the top.

Views from the top.

Tennessee Vacation – Great Smokey Mountains, Cades Cove

So Sweet Sweet and I left Coldiz Cove and were on our way to our final destination, the Great Smokey Mountains. Although there were plenty of interesting things to comment about along the way, perhaps the most interesting thing was a town called Pigeon Forge, which is just 5 miles or so out of Gatlinburg, which is were we were staying (Gatlinburg is right next to the park). Without sounding like an ass, Pigeon Forge has more crap per square inch than any place I’ve ever seen. It is a bastion of restaurants and shows and putt-putt and go-kart rides and stuff. It was amazing and Sweet Sweet and I promised that we would take pictures of all of the crap on our way back through town. Unfortunately, that didn’t happy because we got up so early when we eventually left, but trust me, it’s awful.

So we made our way to Gatinburg and due to traffic just getting from Pigeon Forge, it added another hour to our trip. We kept hoping that once we got to the Great Smokey Mountains (GSM) there’d be fewer people.

Sweet Sweet and I drive through town, past our motel, and decide that we need to get out of the car and do something. Thus, we decide to take the Cade’s Cove driving loop, and although we’re still in our car we enjoyed ourselves.

Perhaps the most interesting thing was the fences and although I didn’t take pictures of it, someone had recently baled hay.

Sweet Sweet walking up to some cabin where we were told there was a black bear.

Wait, do you see it?

Is it Bigfoot?

There he is.

Pretty amazing views:

So, there’s this old mill that’s a fairly major stop along the way and wanting to walk around a bit, Sweet Sweet and I stop to look around. So there’s this old barn and Sweet Sweet thought it would be funny (and it was) to do a yearbook pose:

Part of the mill:

It was getting to be dusk and there were lots of deer out and about:

Here’s the only problem with Cades Cove loop.  You can’t pass people, so if some one wants to watch a deer, that’s right, a freaking deer for 10 minutes, there’s nothing you can do to pass them. Thus, you end up with these people, who I assume are all from the city and have never seen a deer, pointing and staring at a deer. It was frustrating to say the least.

After finishing Cades Cove we headed to the motel to shower-up, grab some dinner and a few beers. It was a good way to end the day.