Sunday, July 1, 2007

A Very Campy Post

Friday 6:45am (journal excerpt): Last night was filled with snarling and growling around the tent. So much scary noise that it was nearly impossible to fall asleep. No, we didn't have prowling bears...just snoring neighbors in the lot next to us!

The camping trip at Cades Cove campground in the Great Smoky Mountains was a big success. The four of us made it back and my parents are on their way to their next camp destination (yes, my parents are summer nomads). I could go on and on about everything that happened but I'll just summarize and let the photos do the talking.

Length of visit: 4 days, 3 nights
Weather: Hot but survivable, 1 strong storm on Thursday

Wildlife seen: 1 snake, 4 black bears, 8-10 deer, 2 turkeys, 1 nest of hornets, squirrels, 2 piliated woodpeckers (you'd think prosthetics would have come further these days), and a host of other birds.

Activities: 2 hikes with Trevor along Abram's Creek (rock hopping), 1 ranger guided 2.5 mile night hike (9pm to 11pm) through the Cove, countless bike rides, ranger presentation about black bears, and one trip through the Cades Cove loop.

Food: We didn't eat just camp food. We had the obligatory dogs and burgers but also had rib eye steaks, grilled chicken, green beans w/ red bliss potatoes, and even a full pot roast with veggies.

Most memorable moment: On the night hike, it had rained earlier and the clouds were leaving. Just as Ranger Mike was finishing his story at one way point, the clouds cleared, revealing a glowing, full moon just over the point of Gregory Bald (mountain). It may sound lame, but it was impressive.

Best camping advice from a 7 y/o: On our last night, everyone slept in my parents' pop-up camper except me-I slept alone in the tent across the street. As I had hugged Trevor good night and was slipping into my tent, he hollered back, "If anything happens tonight...just hit them in the head with the flashlight!"
Most Interesting Educational Experience: In the black bear presentation, Ranger Mike informed us that one of black bear's favorite spring food is squaw root, which is a hallucinogenic. So we are hiking in an area with a bunch of bears hopped up on drugs?????

Trevor surveying Abram's Creek when we arrived.
Our first contact with wildlife...a banded water snake.
Trevor and I "out on a limb" at Abram's Creek.
Somebody snuck 2 marshmallows before dinner....whoever it was, wasn't "saying".
A wild turkey. She was with another hen and no gobblers.
I took this shot on Trevor and my afternoon hike.
The afternoon sun coming thought the tree canopy. Humidity at this point had to have been 100% as the rains evaporated.
Alexis "rock hopping" a stream. Trevor preferred using the downed trees.
This juvenile black bear is still under care from Momma Bear who was about 50 feet up in the brush. The photo is a little "jaggy" because I had max telephoto lens on and wasn't getting any closer!
The rhododendron were in full bloom.
A home of one of the original settlers of Cades Cove.
Brett trying to "convince" Trevor that Trevor's bike wasn't too small for Brett.