So the wife and I just celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary this past Saturday. Since the little one was born last year and isn't quite 1 yet we decided to get away for our 5 year and leave Mason with Grandma and Grandpa. Worst part was/is our anniversary corresponds with my neice's birthday so, unfortunately, we missed her 1yr party this Saturday
We left Wednesday knowing we weren't going to make it to Pigeon Forge to check in for our cabin prior to 9PM so we took it easy, ate at the Cheesecake Factory in Atlanta, and stopped at the wife's grandmother's place in Hayesville, NC Wednesday night. We watched a little Mythbusters on Thursday morning before heading on up to Pigeon Forge so that we'd arrive after the 3PM check-in time. We were greeted with some miserable weather. Rain, thunder, lightening. Just not a fun time Thursday so we sat at the cabin pondering what we were going to do Friday and Saturday. The weather broke, for a short time, Thursday evening right at dark. It was followed by more rain after dark which was gone before daylight. We were told there was actually snow up there on Monday. Decided a "little" hiking was in store Friday with a Cades Cove trip on Saturday.
What follows are some of the better pictures I took over the weekend (out of 420 pictures, 45 good to excellent isn't bad in my book!). I will preface this all of these pictures are nearly "as-is". At most I have sharpened slightly and adjusted contrast and exposure. Otherwise, they are what I saw - and in some ways looking back, better! And the green in the pictures, well, EVERYTHING up there is "spring green" and gorgeous! But you guys would know the spring colors better than anyone. Sorry for all the other non-animal pics
>> Views from the cabin overlooking Wears Valley <<
This is the view Thursday evening after the weather broke.
Thursday night just after dark
Friday - Sunset at the cabin through the glass
Friday - Just really liked these two photos for some reason
Friday - Going
Friday - Going
Friday - Gone
A really cool night shot Friday evening. Haven't played with these much but this was a 25 or 30 second exposure!
>> The Hike to Rainbow Falls <<
This was supposed to be a 2.5 mile hike, 5 miles total and 1500' of elevation. According to the phone GPS track I had turned on it was more like 3 miles and a little over 1800' of elevation. It'll tell on your conditioning REALLY fast!
The stream that paralleled the trail to Rainbow Falls. It varied in size but was mostly inaccessible except for a few spots.
This was on the way to Rainbow Falls. It was a dumb luck picture that looks like a black and white and I hightlighted the green leaves with photoshop...but I didn't!
Samantha didn't like this guy much...
I don't know if you'd call this a waterfall or just a part of the stream.
This picture really shows the color of the woods right now up there. This is a switchback in the trail and you can see where we've been and where we're yet to go.
Big rock looking back down the trail
A small fall on the way
Another small fall
Rainbow Falls - FINALLY! Only took us over 2 hours to get here!
Took us about 1/2 the time to get back down the trail and to the car.
On the drive out we rounded a bend with a lot of people/cars wadded up. That could only mean one thing in this country!
Yep, and he's not a baby either!
I spent a while, within 30 yards trying to get some decent pics but I mostly have him with brush in the way. I went and sat back in the car and was thinking of leaving when he just plopped down and "posed" for everyone. I couldn't resist a few more, which turned out to be the best!
The stare down...
I'm just a baby and harmless
Look at my head, it's not THAT big
>> Laurel Falls <<
Laurel Falls was supposed to be an easy 1.3 mile hike. It was more like 1.5 but compared to Rainbow, it WAS easy. It was paved all the way.
Laurel Falls, top to bottom
Just the top half
Nice view out across the smokies on the hike back
The only color in a sea of green
>> Cades Cove - Saturday <<
Sorry - some of these are from a ways off. I tend to not be one that walks out and disturbs the animals just for the "close" encounter or picture and keeps others from enjoying them. If I can't do it with what I have, well, you're just going to have to see a smaller picture of them! As a note - we encountered a family biking the trail who had NO respect for anyone else. The parents let their two boys run up on the hill chasing the deer, and subsequently pushing them away from the road and out of picture range in the woods. If you go, please keep your kids under control and don't let them run around like heathens! Wish he would have let his boys do that to the sow and cubs at the beginning of the loop
Gobbler putting on a show
He even gobbled a couple times for us
A view that never gets old
And now for my greatest failure over the day... Face it, I drive slow on the loop. I like animals and seeing them. So I pulled off in a parking area letting traffic go by and am sitting there when I look up and running to us is a deer so I start snapping pictures. Little did I know he was going to run up to within 10 yards of the car and I was going to screw the pooch!
Getting closer and you can see it's a young buck
Ah yes, where I screwed the pooch! If I had my act together, other than the line of cars ruining the shot, I would have had a great sequence of him jumping the fence!
>> Cades Cove Sunday <<
So the wife wanted to sleep in on Saturday which put us in the cove around lunch. Me, being a hunter, know the animals aren't going to be as active. So I talk her in to an early rise and a trip through before we leave. Boy am I glad we did! We saw 13 gobblers, heard a 14th, saw a hen, watched a hen get bread, saw a bear - from a LONG way off, and couldn't even begin to count the number of deer we saw.
A young buck. Likely the doe's yearling from last year.
A couple does with the young buck
So we're driving along after having seen a couple strutting and gobbling birds. We go into the woods and I'm looking at the photog guy on the left and what he's taking pictures of (woods it turned out ) when Samantha goes, "There's two on the right."
"Two, what?" I asked
"Two turkeys. They're all fanned out!" Boy was I in for a treat! Photog guy was busy with woods and flowers while I had what ended up 3 gobblers and 2 hens to myself!
I snuck back up the hill and peeked over the edge to this
I've got to work on my manual focus. This one nearly became a stunning photo!
This ol' gal was part of the cause of the commotion
I stayed within 10-15 yards of this guy forever and he obligingly spitted and strutted his butt off for his lady the whole time. If you look back and left, you'll see a second bird
3 gents and a lady
My favorite pic of the trip. The colors, the sun - it almost looks fake
What sould have been - just a bit blurry but thought I'd share anyway
Another "what could have been". I've got to work on using manual focus...
King of spring
This guy was a surprise. He was much farther along than all the others we saw.
Believe it or not, these were all 4 bucks! We saw more bucks than does while there.
Yep, a couple more rubbing a little salt in the wound!
So that's it. My trip in a nutshell... Hope you enjoy the pics