Bill worked one more day, but on Oct. 14th, we finally got out and about! Drove through Cherokee up into Smoky Mtns National Park. Us and hundreds of others! The roads were very busy & every place to stop was mostly full but we did find a few places to park.
The higher we went, the more the trees had changed color.
No wonder they’re called the Smoky Mountains – they seem to recede into smoke in the distance.
There are still some areas of old growth forest which weren’t razed by early pioneers in the area. Some of the largest trees on the east coast apparently. A lovely old gnarled specimen.
The number of scenic hillsides is going to increase over the next few weeks while we’re here, but they are truly beautiful.
Thurs. Oct. 15/15: Today we headed south to do another loop back into Franklin. It was a very foggy morning.
The fog started to lift & Bill spied a flock of crows taking off from their overnight roost (tiny black dots, top photo, left side, just above black trees).
We stopped at a big open field with horses grazing & a beautiful gate.
We followed a twisting-turning narrow road up through Highlands, but there were few places to stop. We did find a couple of waterfalls however with a place to park. The traffic was pretty bad, with no shoulder on the roads, & barely wide enough for our big truck.
At lunchtime we found a picnic area & saw 3 Ruffed Grouse. There are only 2 types of grouse here – the other is Northern Bobwhite, but we haven’t seen 1 yet. Bill didn’t have his birding camera, so no bird photos! The only other birds we’ve seen are Turkey Vulture, Wild Turkey (right on the property where we’re staying), Carolina Chickadee (lifer for me!!), Blue Jay, Amer. Crow, Belted Kingfisher, House Sparrow & Eur. Starling. May have heard a N. Cardinal (since the name of the place is Cardinal Ridge RV) & Tufted Titmouse. Don’t know then well enough by voice to confirm yet.
Fri. Oct. 16/15: A loop to the northwest today. We found a much less-travelled road with little traffic – though it twist & turn up and down the hills. That can’t be avoided in this area, since we in the “mountains”!
It certainly allows us to find some lovely vistas. The day was beautiful again, with the high around 20 (though lows promise to approach zero in the next few days!).
Another beautiful waterfall next to a crystal clear stream.
Because the waterfall was not in the sun, Bill had to set up his tripod to capture it. Look what landed at his feet in the sun! I guess it’s a Monarch, since it’s about 5″ across! We found a flock of American Goldfinch at our pit-stop also!
Fishers were fly-fishing in this stream with vehicles parked in every little pull-out along the road. They were in waders & had lots of gear. There were also rafters & kayakers!
A few hours of that type of driving & Bill needs to return home for his nap!