An early December snow swept across the ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains and into the Cades Cove valley. For a couple of days, the snow and following hoar frost created a magical winter wonderland, a great respite from the Covid pandemic.
Guardian of the Cove
A small herd of horses stand in the predawn cold at the entrance to Cades Cove.
Cades Cove Snow
Cades Cove is quiet and still under slate gray skies and a fresh coat of snow.
Sparks Lane Winter Splendor
Snow drapes the hemlocks and pines that line Sparks Lane.
Rhododendrons in Snow
A large mountainside of rhododendrons is covered in a winter coat of snow.
Snow in Shadows
Yesterday's snow has largely melted across the cove except in the shade of some oaks and maples.
Sparks Lane Hoar Frost
A heavy hoar frost has etched overnight the old trees along Sparks Lane.
Little River Snow
Snow coats the trees alongside and the boulders of the Little River.
Little River in Snow II
The snow-covered Little River courses around the Smokies.
Abrams Creek and a Winter Picnic
Anthony Creek flows through the snow-covered rhododendrons and trees that grow along its banks near the picnic sites of Cades Cove, after which it meets up with Abrams Creek.
The golden light of morning glows behind the snow-covered hemlocks in Cades Cove.
Sparks Lane in Snow
A narrow dirt road cuts through the snowy woods in Cades Cove.
Sparks Lane Cathedral
Hemlocks bow under the snow above Sparks Lane.
Sparks Lane Panorama
For all those who have shared the journey with me, who have graced my soul, kindled my heart and who kept believing that over that hill, we can find a better place to build together something anew.
Sunlight streams through this winter scene.
Sparks Lane in Winter II
A quiet winter walk in winter through the snow.
Carter Shields Cabin in Winter
Set in the shade of a beautiful clearing, the Carter-Shields cabin sits quietly, peacefully in a glen of trees cloaked in an early December snow. There is uncertainty when it was built, but some records suggest it was around 1820, when George Shields fled to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains to flee the typhoid epidemic. From 1910-1921, this simple one bedroom cabin became home to George Washington "Carter" Shields, who had been injured in the Battle of Shilo in 1862. Another century later and this simple cabin remains a place to find serenity and quiet repose.
A wet snow clings to every branch and limb in Cades Cove.
The woods have a new beauty under a fresh snow.
Cades Cove Loop Road in Snow
Usually crowded, the road is empty after a winter snow.
Cades Cove Loop Curve
One of America's most beautiful drives curves through the pines and snow.
Mill in Snow
This ancient mill where settlers in the Cove had corn meal and flour ground stands eerily quiet in the snowy solitude of winter.
In 1867, a young farmer, John Cable built this grist mill in Cades Cove. This mill, powered by water that flowed from an adjacent stream that turned the great wheel, allowed John to mill the flour that would provide sustenance to the hearty families who scratched out a living in this mountain cove. It was also a place where families would gather, where people could socialize and share their stories and talk about how - together - they would endure. There was a lot of heartache and tragic losses. But also some laughter. Now, after an early December snow, the mill stands quiet, the people are all gone but if you listen carefully, quietly, you can hear their voices in that nearby stream, and in the creaking boards. There will be better days. Together.
It is nearly zero and the Cove is serene and quiet.
The original experience of the early settlers can be glimpsed when walking before dawn along the snow-covered loop road of Cades Cove.
Waiting on Sunrise
The gates are closed and Cades Cove is deserted. A several mile hike in the dark has brought me to the fields that buffer the old homestead of John Oliver to await sunrise. The temperature is in the teens and a new day is breaking. In minutes, the sun clears the horizon, striking a golden glow just across the frozen, snow-covered ridgelines of these mountains. Nearly 150 years ago when Lawson built this place, with assistance from his neighbors the Cables, I suspect there was a morning just like this. Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains NP. Dec.2020.
John Oliver Cabin in Snow
One of the oldest historical structures in the Park, John Oliver cabin sits quietly in the snow and shade as dawn breaks above.
Cades Cove Winter View
A distant moon twinkles in the pre-dawn cool, high above Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains. Winter's first snow has coated the valley floor, nearby mountain slopes and every tree and shrub. The Cove is incredibly quiet this morning. There is no one around and even the wildlife is bedded down.
A Slice of Sun
A few rays of light bring a strong glow to a slice of this snowy mountain ridge.
A Snowy Stream
A gentle stream passes below snow-covered dogwoods.
A Place for a Quiet Walk
A heavy wet snow blankets the hemlocks and first along Sparks Lane.
Snow provides a new experience on the Loop Road.
Carter Shields Cabin
Carter Shields cabin, one of the most beautiful in the Cove, sits quietly and fresh this winter morning.
Around the Bend
Rarely experienced in snow's regalia, the Loop Road offers new visions around every turn.
Hiking the Loop
With the roads closed, Cades Cove is stunningly quiet on this winter morning.
Tipton Place in Snow
The Tipton Place homestead was initially settled by Revolutionary War Veteran William “Fighting Billy” Tipton in the 1820s. Some 50 years later, this cabin was built by Bill's relative and Civil War Veteran Colonel Hamp Tipton where his two daughters, who taught school in the Cove, resided for years. Still intact, the cabin sits quiet on this snowy December morning.
A Snowy Road to Church
A small dirt road leads to one of the numerous historic churches in Cades Cove.