Trips: Escape To The Great Smoky Mountains 2020

After months of chafing under the restrictions imposed by the spreading coronavirus, I escaped to where I often escape, to my original home park, the Great Smoky Mountains. I took advantage that crowds were still limited and spent time exploring and experiencing the calming effects of the Smokies and some quiet times in Cades Cove, a place that has been way overcrowded for many years.

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The eternal promise - a double rainbow spans the Cades Cove valley after a spring rain.

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As the sun sets, Cades Cove and the surrounding mountains are bathed in a warm light.

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Spring's First Growth.

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Long shadows and the golden light of early evening along Sparks Lane.

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Spring Impression

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As the sun rises, the fog that often settles over Cades Cove lifts and burns off in the warming air.

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Clouds stream across the Valley. Wildflowers fill the pastures. Spring's young leaves emerge on this ancient walnut. Fifty years of memories float by.

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An ancient walnut that first greeted me some 50 years ago rises above a field of yellow wildflowers. Time stands still and I am caught up in the memory of all those times I have stood by and under this tree.

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A panoramic view across the Cades Cove fields and meadow on a spring morning.

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Curious Cub

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Several churches punctuate the Cades Cove valley and the surrounding mountain landscape, eternal reminders of those who settled in these mountains and struggled daily to survive. Here, Primitive Baptist Church, built in 1827 and named in 1847 by the Cove's settlers to distinguish it from Baptists with other beliefs, catches the first rays of morning light.

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Spring Cades Cove Valley View

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Spring Oak in Cades Cove

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A darkening storm approaches over the mountains surrounding Cades Cove as this solitary tree stands in steady watch.

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Hyatt Lane and Approaching Storm. Hyatt Lane bisects Cades Cove and provides access to some of the best wildlife habitat in the Cove.

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Cades Cove Mountain Panorama

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Dancing Spring Trees

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Cades Cove Spring Tree

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Cades Cove Road in Spring II

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Spruce Flat Falls in Spring is one of the most beautiful falls in the Great Smoky Mountains.

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A gentle cascade streams below Spruce Flat waterfall, located near Tremont in the Great Smoky Mountains.

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Spring's rains have swelled Spruce Flat waterfalls and the final portions of the trail have been muddy and treacherous. But in the spray of the waterfall, and the fading light of this rainy spring day, there is a sense of peace and tranquility, and a desire to stay just a little bit longer.

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Large oaks hang over the Cades Cove Road just the Road makes its final climb.

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A large black bear strolls purposefully from the safety of the forest's edge into the meadow where she will graze for much of the morning.

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Newfound Gap in Spring

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A tom turkey struts his stuff.

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Three tom turkeys strut and display their feathers as they compete to woo the attention of some nearby ladies.

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A turkey searches for insects on the dew-laden grasses on this spring morning.

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Standing Tall

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A black bear stands for a better view above the growing grasses in Cades Cove.

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A young black bear stretches for a clearer view of a distant bear. One of the graver threat to bear cubs is adult male bears.

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A black bear can be hard to see in the fields, except when they sometimes stand to see their surroundings more clearly. Sometimes it is to see if there is danger. Sometimes, it is to see where is mom.

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Her cubs may soon be sent on their way, but on this early spring morning, a mother black bear mom cozies with her three cubs, licking the dirt and removing the insects and thorns from her cubs. A mother's love never ends.

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A black bear cub rises from her nap and makes her way from her secret hideaway.

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Two cubs slowly make their way from their forest sanctuary toward the meadows where they will resume feeding.

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A barred owl sits silently above a mountain stream, hunting for small fish and insects. Every ten minutes or so she will spot her next meal and then quickly return to a nearby limb to wait again.