Over the years I have been able to travel more widely across the USA and visit many of our big Parks; but the Smokies remains the one with which I am most intimate. I’ve hiked hundreds of miles of its back-country trails, and I have camped deep in the wilderness areas within it. I have also driven most of its (too many) roads and shared views with obnoxious crowds of idiot tourists who rarely fail to annoy me in their numbers and vile attitudes.
But, I keep going back. My wife and son get a kick out of the Park for reasons different from my own. While I dig plunging as deep into the almost supernaturally diverse forests and climbing the lung-bursting slopes, they like the gentler aspects of the Smokies and the easy access of tourist traps we call Gatlinburg and Pigeon’s Forge. Generally, while I’m hiking they will take the 75-cent tram from the campground into Gatlinburg to nosh on comfort food and search for tchotchke.
I’ll be there for just shy of a week. Heading out very soon. I’m still considering my options for hiking. It has been a very long time since I’ve seen the views from Charlie’s Bunion, so I may do that hike. I just don’t know. Or maybe I’ll pick out some trails I’ve never experienced and see what they have to offer.
I’ll let you know.
|A field in Cataloochee Valley where we likely won’t go this trip.|
|Years ago when I was running around trying to see all of the hemlock groves before they died. I saw most of the old ones, and now they’re all dead.|
|A 2005 view of the massive wall of LeConte before this plot of land was covered in hotels and shops.|
|Bull elk and cow (also in Cataloochee) in October 2018.|