We left early in the morning from our beautiful riverside hotel room with whispered goodbyes by their door and headed into the Smokey Mountains before the sky was even fully lit. The park was beautiful, a wooded, secluded forest that had the mystique that only pristine wilderness has. A certain quiet that hangs peacefully over the entire park creating a nearly unearthly sense of calm. We drove through the winding mountain roads that were hidden under a canopy of trees. It was beautiful everywhere you looked and it was a huge breath of fresh air, both literally and figuratively, to be back in nature enjoying the simple things rather than fancy shops or restaurants.
We drove all the way into the middle of the park up to its highest point, which is right on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee called Clingman’s Dome. In the description it said it was a short mile hike that was supposedly steep that leads up to an observation tower that over looks the misty ble mountains of the area. When we got there we began our trek and for the first time the entire trip it was cold. Not just cold but FREEZING. I was so cold and didn’t even know where I had put my jacket because it had barely gone below triple digits every single day of our trip and suddenly it was so windy and cold on the top of these mountains. So naturally I thought I would run around to warm up a bit. Little did I know that the steep climb was actually a really steep climb and my little warm up left me really tired for going up that huge hill. We walked on the path that goes along on of the hills overlooking the mountain range and by the time we reached the top we were both panting and out of breath from the climb and the elevation which was over 6000 feet. The observation deck was a huge spiral walkway that stopped at a look out and the view was amazing. The mountains were cast in a soft blueish light and hidden among the fog which gives this national park its smokey quality. It was great to stand on top of the world looking around and seeing nothing but beauty in every direction.
After our hike we headed out of the park taking our time on the drive through the remainders of the mountains on the North Carolina side. We drove on the Blue Ridge PArkway which was likewise beautiful and quite fun to drive around North Carolina a bit. It was interesting because I don’t think we ever really intended to go to the east coast but we were technically in a state that is on the east coast so I guess it sort of counts. So technically we drove all the way across the country, nearly coast to coast. But then we had to veer back to our original direction and headed northward.
We made a pit stop at the Cumberland Gap National Park which stands on the corner of three states, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. This beautiful area surrounded by rolling mountains, rivers, lake networks, and just all things green and beautiful was a nice little pit stop along the way. It is really our last stop until Cincinnati tonight where we will be staying with a friend of my mother’s who was gracious enough to accomadate us, road mess and all.
Cincinnati was a beautiful city to behold, the river was striking and despite the traffic we got stuck in it was very enjoyable. We were even treated to a wonderful Montgomery dinner of pulled chicken BBQ along with excellent cherries, coleslaw and potatoe salad. We even sat on the balcony that was so nice and warm.
It was a great stop and I am so happy we were welcomed so warmly and I yet again wish we could stay longer but tomorrow we are making the next biggest leap: tomorrow we will be in Michigan.
Yes, we are just a few short days away from our final destination. It seems we may finish ahead of schedule and come in about a day earlier but we will see. Maybe we will make another pit stop somewhere if we wind up having copious amounts of time on our hands but right now we are very focused on the prize, our home in Bootjack (Lake Linden) Michigan.