Monday, August 15, 2011

Holy, Smokies

One of the highlights of our trip was a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains. After the balooning bust and our subsequent nap, beau and I decided to take a little road trip into Tennessee. We chose to take U.S. Route 441 through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Our destination was Gatlinburg, TN. We have tossed around the idea of a cabin in the mountains and I heard that Gatlinburg was a nice place. I did a mini-research session and liked what I saw. When we pulled in to Gatlinburg it was not quite the quiet mountain retreat I was expecting. Have you ever been to Ocean City, MD or Virginia Beach, VA at high tourist time? That's pretty much what the downtown area was like--only with a mountain flair. (Which is my way of saying woodsy looking kitsch rather than beachy kitsch.) There were people ev-reee-where. Swarms of them.

Despite the over-the-top main drag, we drove to the visitor's center, got some ideas from the nice lady there and went off to do some hiking.

While hiking was a must on my weekend trip, I thought we would actually end up doing that on Sunday. That's why my footwear was not appropriate for hiking anything. I think they are made of cardboard. They ave approximately no traction.

 Did we let that stop us? Of course not.

Off we went to the Rainbow Falls Trail. Here's the description on the National Parks Services website: "Between trailhead and falls, Rainbow Falls Trail gains about 1,500' in elevation. The 5.4 mile roundtrip hike is considered moderate in difficulty. The Rainbow Falls Trail continues for approximately 4 miles beyond the falls to the summit of Mt. Le Conte."

For the record, I do not recommend hiking 5.4 miles of moderate trails in Roxy flip flops. Likewise, I recommend bringing water along with you. Durh.

What did I have? My trusty camera. While there wasn't a ton of water rushing over the falls as advertised, the hike itself was quite stunning and worth the minor excruciating foot discomfort. The following photos are my testament to this lovely hike.

Had we actually planned for this hike, we could have made a reservation at the lodge, spent the night, and hiked back in the morning. We'll perhaps put that on our to-do list for a future visit. We'll pack the right shoes, too.

I bet you are wondering about wildlife. Don't worry, there is lots of it in the Great Smoky Mountains.

I suppose this sign exists because there are people who actually do approach wild, hungry bears. Those people are idiots who watch far too much "reality" TV. I, however, am smart enough to know that if there is a bear in my path, I go the other way. Quickly. I don't want to experience that serious injury or death the sign mentions.

While no bears were in sight for us to approach, I did see this little guy. He's hiding under the bark of a fallen tree.

He probably has an enormous poisonous spike on his tail and is waiting for me to get closer so he can strike and take me, the flip-flop-wearing novice, down. Obviously, I lived to tell about it, but it was close.

But on to the pretty parts of this hike...

I hope you enjoyed our hike from the comfort of your home--you know, where flip-flops are appropriate footwear.

What is the most athletic thing you've done in flip flops?

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