Here are a few more photos from our early November visit to the Smokies.
One of Doug's favorite destinations in the Smokies is Andrews Bald. The hike to the bald is 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers) most of which is downhill, on a rough and rocky and sometimes wet trail, which means that the return hike is the equal distance...uphill...on that same rough and rocky and sometimes wet trail. Uphill hiking is hard enough when you're fresh and the trail is smooth, but it's exhausting when the trail is rough and you're already tired from the downhill hike.
The last time we hiked to Andrews Bald was in 2002, and we've aged since then.
Doug has always remembered the beauty of Andrews Bald and has wanted to see it again. I knew that it would be too much of a challenge for my feet and legs, but I encouraged him to go ahead and do it if he wanted to. I would be perfectly fine waiting for him in the minivan. I had books, pillows, blankets, food, water, and a great view with which to occupy myself for the three hours or so that it would take him to hike to the bald and back. So he did.
|This was my view from the car while I waited in the Clingmans Dome parking lot for Doug's return from his hike.|
Andrews Bald offers amazing views of the surrounding mountains. Doug didn't take any still shots while he was there, but I took this one off the video that he shot:
|View from Andrews Bald|
Doug returned from his hike just shy of three hours later. He was glad he'd done it, but he didn't think he wanted to do it again. He was feeling those thirteen years that had passed since we last hiked that trail.
From there, we drove on down the North Carolina side of the mountains, enjoying more beautiful mountain views.
|Mountain View from Newfound Gap Road on North Carolina Side|
When we reached the Ocanaluftee Visitor Center, there was a herd of elk grazing in the meadow.
|A closer look at this picture shows that the elk weren't alone. A family of groundhogs was sharing the meadow.|
On Doug's and my first trip to the Smoky Mountains in May, 1990, we missed our turn that would have taken us into Pigeon Forge and wound up at the Douglas Dam overlook mentioned in the previous post. Doug's frustration over the missed turn evaporated as he absorbed the peace and tranquility of the of the area around the dam.
Then, as we found our way back toward Pigeon Forge, we drove past this old building, which looked to us like an old church or schoolhouse:
|Old Church or School on Douglas Dam Road - May, 1990|
Since we visit Douglas Dam on almost every trip to the Smokies, we've watched that old building slowly deteriorate. This year, I asked Doug to stop so I could take a current photo of it.
|Old Church or School - November, 2015|
|A closer look the old building - November, 2015|
The building is falling down, and the property is becoming overgrown. Whenever we pass it, we wonder what that building was in its prime and can't help thinking what a beautiful setting it would be for a house.