After our drive up to Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome on November 5th, we were ready for a little walk. We chose one of the Quiet Walkways that can be found throughout the park, offering an opportunity for a pleasant walk.
The signs at these Quiet Walkways usually say something to the effect that no backpacks or hiking boots are required. I think Doug and I must have gotten off the path, though, because I was definitely wishing for my hiking boots. We found our way down to a beautiful river, enhanced by some remaining colorful fall leaves.
River on Quiet Walkway
After our hike, we drove to the Elkmont area of the national park, to visit the site of the Old Wonderland Hotel, where our love affair with the Smokies began in 1990. The old hotel is gone now. Only the steps leading up the hillside from the roadway, the remnant of the old fountain, and the crumbling ruins of the chimney still remain.
Across the road from the site of the old hotel, we saw several wild turkeys foraging for food.
Then we visited the Old Elkmont Cemetery.
The Old Elkmont Cemetery
There are a lot of these old cemeteries scattered throughout the national park since this area was once home to a number of families before it was purchased for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The cemeteries are interesting to visit and give mute testimony to the hardship of life for the inhabitants of this land.
Most of the original grave markers in these cemeteries were nothing more than stones with crude carvings of names and dates, many almost totally illegible after so many years. Some of these have been replaced in recent years by more modern tombstones, probably by surviving members of the extended family who still tend the graves.
The majority of the graves in The Old Elkmont Cemetery seem to be of children, many of them bearing dates of death on the same day, or within the same year, as the date of birth.
This one marks the grave of a man who lived to age 71. It has a verse that I particularly liked:
A precious one from us has gone.
A voice we loved is stilled.
A place is vacant in our home, which never can be filled.
God, in His wisdom, has recalled the boon His love had given;
and, though the body slumbers here,
the soul is safe in Heaven.
This one marks the grave of a seven-year-old boy. I couldn't quite make out the entire inscription.
As we returned to our lodging in Pigeon Forge that evening, I took this photo of Gatlinburg snuggled among the mountains.