Saturday, June 29, 2013

Maybe...the Smokies.

I have a three-day weekend coming up in July. I may use it to go explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I haven't been there in quite some time. My main problem with the Smokies is that much of it is crowded. And I go to the forests to find solitude. Thus, my reason for going is often muted because of the swarms of idiot humans mucking about.

However, there are corners of the Park where lots of people don't go. I may head out for those areas and steer clear of the sections where the crowds generally congregate.

When I was a kid, it was my favorite wild place to visit. Now, however, it's hardly wild by most standards. So many of the trails are packed with people. The forests are very sick--not as sick as the forests in Shenandoah National Park, but getting there. The boundaries of the Smokies are being squeezed inexorably by development, which is turning the Park into a kind of suburban curiosity rather than a wilderness.'s foremost in my mind as a destination, and I may head in that direction in July.

We'll see.

(All of the following photos were taken on a 2004 trip to the Park.)

This is a self-portrait I took on Charlie's Bunion. I had started the hike before light hoping to get some good views from the treeless peak. However, the weather did not cooperate. In the Smokies, you never know what you're going to get in the way of weather.

Typical view from Cades Cove. If I go I will steer well clear of Cades Cove. In an already overcrowded Park, Cades Cove is perhaps the most crowded part of the Smokies. So crowded that the loop road through the Cove is generally bumper to bumper. Fuck that.

This is a forest I visited on the Gatlinburg side of the Park. It consisted mainly of old poplar and ancient hemlocks. All of he hemlocks in that grove are now dead. The giant tree directly behind me is a hemlock. Gone. One day I will wake up to hear that something is killing off the poplars. Then all of the Park's giants will be gone.

Mount LeConte. One of the highest summits in the Park, but also one of the most popular hiking destinations there. Even steep trails and long slogs can't seem to keep the humans away.

The Chimneys. A really great hiking destination. The last time I was there I began the climb just at dawn and had the summit to myself for about two and a half hours. When the crowds began to arrive, I fled.

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