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.