Saturday, October 16, 2010
Falling in Love with Fall
During the last couple of years I have overcome my I-lived-in-Utah-and-Fall-means-it-will-snow-soon aversion and have fallen in love with Fall all over again. Things got cooked up last year with a couple of trips to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in late October. This year, both the fall colors and I hit the Park sooner, camera and tree identification book in hand, ready to savor the season. My most recent adventure led me back to the Smokies and up to Newfound Gap on the Tennessee/North Carolina state line where the Appalachian Trail crosses over.
The weather forecast was for clouds and ultimately rain. By the time I got to the Park the clouds had parted and the sky was sunny and crystal blue for the lower and mid-elevations. The skies did cloud over by the time I reached Morton overlook and I got a little drizzle at Newfound Gap but it really didn't matter as the trees were stunning! I took an excessive amount of photos without guilt thanks to the digital era and photo editing software. Even shots I doubted would turn out could be rescued with a few mouse clicks. WooHoo!
Despite the gray skies and clouds over the North Carolina side of the park, the view from Newfound Gap was amazing. There was a fairly large sugar maple tree that was ablaze in a golden orange hue that reminded me of Tennessee orange. There was fierce competition from visitors to capture the perfect photo by that tree. I had to compete to get my shots with no people in them!
On my way back down the mountain I took the little River Road all the way to the Townsend Entrance. This Past Spring & Summer the NPS received enough funding from various sources to do several major repaving and renovation projects in the park. Included was a major overhaul to a favorite waterfall and swimming hole area known as the Sinks. I just had to stop and check it out. The new overlook is wonderful, yet you could still access the cliffs without much trouble. There was more color at the Sinks than I expected, but I especially was impressed by the strong red hues in a small white oak tree that was growing out of a cliff. Amazing!
It was early in the color season so most of the leaves were still on the trees. Even still, I found a few lovely specimens perched on the cut-stone steps at the Sinks that just begged to be photographed. Such beauty in simple things! It's good to be back in the Smokies in the Fall. I love it!