Posts Tagged With: great smoky mountains national park

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS AND APPALACHIAN TRAIL

From Mary’s desk:
The Great Smoky Mountains is an old place of rounded, worn peaks. The slow moving glaciers that flattened and scraped the areas of North America above this range, forced wildlife, plants and seeds south where they settled and adapted into this temperate climate. I recognized  trees, bushes, and wild flowers from my native Michigan, considered a cold climate, next to magnolias, tulip trees, spice bush, (below) and orchids typical of southern climes.

The Last of The Mohicans was filmed in the Great Smoky Mountains. Grandfather rock formations, giant waterfalls, rippling streams, miles of hovering smoky vistas, the stunning scenery from that movie hung in my dreams for many years. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was NOT that place, however.  It was filmed in these mountains far south of where we are parked. Rent the movie if you can’t go. We are going to watch it again.

You can have one foot in North Carolina and the the other in Tennessee at the New Found Gap Dedication Center at the summit.
A surprise for me was that the Appalachian Trail goes right through the park. I have a friend who is walking the trail in segments, a little bit each year, and she is in her 80’s.  What a legacy we have in this park. Jim and I walked the trail into each state for a short distance and happened upon John Reingold from Georgia hiking up from Fontana Dam, about halfway through the park.

Young and strong, he carries his pack with everything to eat, sleep, and drink. It took him four days to get this far. On this morning, he had already walked for over 4 hours.

The trail is rough and tumble, steep and narrow in places, trees fall on the trail. Its closed in two spots during the winter. We were pleased to find it alive with wildflowers as we wandered deeper and deeper into the canyon.

This park happened because people with foresight were alarmed at the fast disappearing landscape as commercial loggers stripped millions of miles clean of everything in sight. Congress authorized the park in 1926 and established it in 1934 after donations,  private groups, and the States of Tennessee and North Carolina raised enough funds to buy the lands needed to make it possible.

The wonder of science… In 1983 the Great Smoky National Park was recognized as a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve because of its amazing diversity. The park visitors center museum  at the Sugarland entrance has stunning portraits of insects, butterflies, and flowers. The diverse animal life, birds and plants are showcased as “live” specimens in dioramas.

To see all 45 pictures you can see my album at the link below:
http://picasaweb.google.com/1579penn/TheGreatSmokyMountainsAndApalachianTrail5710#

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Jim says:

Size-wise, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is quite small in comparison to other National Parks I have visited in my years of travel. More or less, it’s about 30 miles wide and 60 miles long. Nonetheless it has more than 1,500 different flowering pants, dozens of native fish, over 200 species of birds and 60 of mammals. According to the brochure, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the nation.

Our day began at the southern entrance to the park, at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center where we obtained a map and got some road information.

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No commercial vehicles are allowed in the park.

A steep climb brought us to the summit at Newfound Gap, elevation 5,046 feet where the states line of North Carolina and Tennessee meet.

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North Carolina is on the right and Tennessee is on the left.

The 2,174 mile Appalachian Trail passes through Newfound Gap.

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We walked it for about 500 feet and now we can proudly say “we walked the Appalachian Trail!”

The best views were at Newfound Gap.

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The Cherokee Indians described these mountains as shaconage meaning “blue, like smoke.”

A steep descent brought us to the northern entrance Sugarland Visitor Center. It’s somewhat larger than the southern entrance visitor center.

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We watched a 20 minute film about the Smokies then went through their great museum where they present information about many of the animals and plants found in the park.

We strolled along a one-mile nature trail to a small waterfall. The afternoon became quite hot.

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Mary cools her feet.

To see the other 34 photos I took, click this link…
http://picasaweb.google.com/jimjrver/GreatSmokyMountainsNationalParkDay15710#

Here’s the officaial government website link…
http://www.nps.gov/grsm/index.htm

Here’s a Wikipedia informational link…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Smoky_Mountains_National_Park

We left the park and passed through the touristy town of Gatilnburg, Tennessee. About 20 miles to the northeast we re-entered the park and spent the night at the Cosby Campground where it was really hot. “YUK” said the weather wimp…that’s me! A cold front weather system is supposed to arrive this area today and I’m ready for a little bit cooler weather!

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2010
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.panamaorbust.com

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