Fall in the Smokies, Part 1
I had planned to leave for my vacation straight from work but because the apartment office was closed at lunch when I went to pick it up the lens I rented from BorrowLenses.com, I had to wait until after work to pick it up. I Finally headed to the Smokies for my vacation. Yes, I came back from the third time in a year. Traffic in Conway was fun like always. I was hoping I would arrive when fall colors were at peak but unfortunately, lowest elevations are still quite green.
For my first full day in the Smokies I had originally decided to head to Newfound Gap overlook for sunrise then Alum Cave Bluffs but I was lazy this morning and decided just to head to the Bluffs. Alum Cave Bluffs is a very popular hike off Newfound Gap so best to get their early to find a parking space. It was a balmy 33 degrees so I was wearing a fleece jacket over sweatshirt and long sleeve tee shirt. The Alum Cave Bluffs trail is 4.6 miles with an elevation difference of 1,145 feet. The good news is its uphill to the Bluff so downhill coming back. On the trip up, I came across quite a few photo opportunities of raging water but as I started this hike before sunrise, I decided to wait until my trip back. I am not as in good shape as I would like to be and had to take a few breaks. Other than that, the hike was going well until I got to the Arch which is a series of steep, narrow steps going through mountain arch. I was fine going up but was very nervous about the return trip. I do not handle heights well. The photo on the left is a bridge leading to the Arch. I also stupidly didn’t bring two things I needed, water and my sunglasses. A nice guy I met on the trail gave me a water and I had to deal with not having my sunglasses until I got back to my car.
On the way back down the trail, I stopped at multiple spots to take photographs of little waterfalls in the river. I started the hike around 7:30 and finished around 11:30. My next stop was Sugarlands Visitor Center. I think everyone decided at this time to stop there, the place was packed.
I then headed into Pigeon Forge for lunch. My first thought was the Old Mill (I want to get photos of it) but it was also packed (recurring theme in October in and near Great Smoky Mountains National Park). As I was driving, I saw Lil Black Bear Cafe. Small little hole in the wall place but cheeseburger was very good. As I was waiting for my burger, I edited a few of the photos from the hike to Alum and posted one to Facebook.
This blog post was longer than I expected so I will continue the day in the next blog.