Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Spring Visit to the Smokies

As many of you know, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee is one of our favorite vacation getaways. Our latest visit there was from March 26 to April 2, 2016.

One of our favorite trails to hike in the Smokies is Little River Trail because it's pretty and...well...not hard.

Little River Trail

Doug and I have a good photography arrangement. I shoot stills, and he shoots video.

Doug and the Video Camera

A favorite place to spend some quiet time is the overlook at Douglas Dam. The scenery is hard to beat, and the water around the dam draws an abundance of birds. In fact, there's a heron rookery in the woods at the base of the dam, where we also see cormorants, bald eagles, night herons, gulls, and terns.

Douglas Dam

Great Blue Heron at the base of Douglas Dam

Herons checking out a warning sign at the Dam

We had planned to hike to a waterfall on Porters Creek Trail one day, but the parking area was full; and cars were lined up along the road leading to and from the trail. So we chose another nearby trail called Grapeyard Ridge Trail.

Doug on Grapeyard Ridge Trail

That stick in Doug's hand is actually a monopod, on which the video camera is mounted.

Grapeyard Ridge Trail doesn't boast any waterfalls. Its main claim to fame is the presence of an old steam engine lying in the creek where it tumbled off the road back in the 1920s.

One of the water crossings on Grapeyard Ridge Trail

The trail is also known for its many water crossings, none of which are bridged. Hikers must hop across on rocks, walk across on logs, or get their feet wet.

Another water crossing on the trail

There are 12 of these water crossings on the round-trip hike. Doug and the video camera successfully handled 11 of them. That 12th one didn't go so well. Doug came out of it cold and wet but otherwise unhurt. The video camera came out of it dead.

Part of an old steam engine in Injun Creek

Injun Creek derives its name from the wreck, not from the Native Americans who used to live in the area.

Old Steam Engine in Injun Creek

The steam engine had been brought in to saw timber for a new school. Many of its parts were salvaged after the accident; the turbine and a couple of wheels remain in the creek.

On another day, we planned to hike a little way up Middle Prong Trail, but it was also very crowded. So, instead, we took a Quiet Walkway that begins at the same trailhead. There was an interesting vehicle that caught our eye in the parking lot, though.

Homemade Camper

Before I close this post, I need to bring you up to date on the video camera. After a few days of drying out, it did power up again. But the automatic lens cover wouldn't open and close, and the camera smelled like a muddy creek bottom. I checked into having it professionally cleaned and was told that it wouldn't be economically practical. 

On the good side, I was able to recover the video from the memory card. And I've since purchased a new video camera from eBay, where I got a great deal on one that was being auctioned.

I tried out the new one this week and was very pleased with it. I'll post a video clip soon. Well, "soon" is a relative term, right?


  1. I figured maybe you had gone somewhere neat.Last time there I spent 4 days just trying to see a little.

  2. Those hikes looks like fun,at least until it comes to crossing the water without a bridge.

  3. Looks like a lovely and enjoyable walk!

  4. A lovely walk to take but I thought we would see a video clip taht Douglas took!

  5. I hope Doug's accident won't keep you from coming back. We also enjoy the Little River and Middle Prong trails. We haven't done much hiking on Graveyard Ridge trail.

  6. ooh, bummer on the video camera, but glad nothing worse occurred! such pretty area! i'd like to see tn some day!

  7. Your photos from Douglas Dam are beautiful, Linda, it must be a great place to visit. The Great Blue Heron in the golden light looks majestic. I'm quite surprised nobody cared to clean the creek from the remains of the Old Steam Engine if only for selling the iron... I'm so sorry for the accident with the camcorder but the most important thing is that Doug didn't break his leg or something like that! That car of the "Homemade Camper" looks quite inventive, a man with imagination can combine the unexpected. :)

  8. Steve - Our visit to the Smokies can't account for the weeks that I was away from blogging. Just in a slump, I guess. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

    Ruth - The water doesn't look so very deep in the photos, but it was deep enough for Doug (and the camcorder) to be submerged. Of course, lying in a prone position did contribute to that.

    Linda - I know you'd love those trails if you could get to them.

    Margaret - At the time I posted this, we hadn't viewed the video yet. But it does seem appropriate to show a few short clips. I'll do that in the next post.

    George - If anything would keep us from coming back, it would be the traffic. It was terrible this time. But I doubt it even that would keep us away. We do love that place.

    Tex - I'm sure you'd love the Smokies. I hope you can get there some day.

    Petra - Thanks for the compliment on the photos from Douglas Dam. It's such a gorgeous place. That photo of the Heron wasn't as sharp as I'd have liked, but I, too, liked that golden color of the setting sun reflected in the water. The terrain where the engine lies in the creek is pretty rugged. It would be difficult to remove the engine, although I guess they did remove some of the parts that they could salvage. I'm glad you enjoyed that homemade camper. It certainly caught our eyes.


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