13, 2007 10:34 PDT
I am back from our family vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee
and surrounding GSMNP. Because it's been a couple of
years since I have been up there, everything seemed new and
fresh. In downtown Gatlinburg, I measured a redbud over 40"
in circumference below its branching at about 2'. Also, I was
blown away by the size of a tuliptree behind a fence near the
Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts; had a classic open-grown
shape, fairly tall, and - below its rather low branching - a
large trunk (probably well over 10' CBH!)! Not bad for a city!
I also saw - and photographed - a very large sweetgum in the
parking lot nearby.
the mountains: First let me say
that the state of the forest is rather depressing... HWA has
claimed just about every hemlock of note, and at Clingmans
Dome nearly every mature fir is long gone - even the spruce
look bad... anyway, the Roaring Forks Motor Nature Trail was
awesome. Although we didn't get out often, the views were
incredible, at least to me. I'm sure most of y'all have seen all
of it before, but the size of the hemlocks, tuliptrees, red
and, perhaps most impressively, white oaks was incredible.
We stopped about a third of the way down the road to see a
snake on a tree trunk; I went exploring while I had a chance
and met up with a HUGE white oak not far off the trail... and
was before the cove with numerous gigantic (though unfortunately
dead or dying) hemlocks... I'd love to return soon and actually
walk the trails there.
Tuesday, we went to
Clingmans Dome. The enjoyment of this trip was dampened
by the sight of the snag forest surrounding the peak: virtually
no Fraser Fir were alive, except for trees about head high,
and little else but the mountain ash looked healthy... the
weather was pretty refreshing (at least to me!) with
in the upper 50's or low 60's and a stiff 10-15mph wind;
skies and a very low cloud deck reduced the visibility to a
few hundred feet! The spruce forests between Newfound Gap and
Clingmans Dome looked healthier than any of the other conifer
forests that I saw in the Smokies. It's truly still an
place in the Smokies, despite chestnut blight, Dutch elm
adelgids, acid rain, etc., and I plan to return in a couple of
13, 2007 21:20 PDT
I went to Clingman's Dome about a month ago. Like you, I noticed
the general health of the ecosystem was not good. Dispite this,
the view beautiful. I stayed and photographed the sunset, while
shivering in the breeze. It was worth it, my pictures turned out
Have you ever been on Andrew's Bald? A mountain near Clingman's
did not even know about it until today. I was donating blood
a volunteer who hikes alot told me about it. It is a 5,900 foot
topped mountain which is hiking accessible.
13, 2007 21:36 PDT
I enjoyed the view immensely as well - although the visibility
time was pretty poor! It's simply an amazing place. I haven't
Andrew's Bald; we did very little hiking on this trip, but I
do a lot of hiking next time!
15, 2007 17:39 PDT
15, 2007 17:48 PDT
Despite all of the horrid problems with the stressed ecosystem,
Great Smoky Mountains National Park remains my favorite place in
the Southeastern USA. It's just the most beautiful spot in the
far as I'm concerned.
I finally talked my wife into hiking up LeConte to stay on the
there. We've put our names in for dates, but we'll take the
available. I've hiked to the summit of LeConte many times, but
to stay in LeConte Lodge.
15, 2007 18:08 PDT
Yes, I think it is the most beautiful place I've ever been. Of
no place is perfect, and the Smokies are no exception... all
non-native diseases and critters really get on my nerves!
And I don't think I have been up Mt. LeConte yet. Next time we
plan to hike a lot more than we did this time.
16, 2007 18:45 PDT
If I had to pick just a few hikes in the park, I'd choose Alum
Bluffs Trail to the summit of LeConte, the Chimney Tops Trail to
summit of the Chimney Tops, and the Appalachian Trail to
and back to Newfound Gap. Not a lot in the way of old trees, but
for spectacular scenery.
16, 2007 21:23 PDT
James and James,
Just about everywhere in the Smokies is beautiful, in my
yes, the typical unappreciative American does get on my
we always enter Gatlinburg via Little River Road, and constantly
pull off to let somebody driving at about 50mph go by... I can't
understand why people would even use these beautiful scenic
they just wanted to speed down them and ignore the scenery...
imagine nobody like that gets out to hike... it's a shame that
people don't appreciate what's left of our pristine Eastern
don't even see why people such as that even visit the National
Also, I found a couple of very interesting pocket-sized hiking
the Great Smoky Mountains Association, "History Hikes of
and "Hiking Trails of the Smokies" while in the
mountains; reading the
history of GSMNP and these trails from books such as these add
enjoyment to hiking in the Park!
17, 2007 18:07 PDT
For many people, lack of appreciation of
natural scenery is a byproduct of the self-induced hectic paces
at which they live. Our modern society is one of constant
self-indulgence with artificial stimuli. Consequently, the
visual appreciation of a landscape is largely a lost art, if
people truly were ever capable of that appreciation. Still
something stirs inside many Americans to make them want to
experience nature. Some want to turn back the clock and
experiece a simpler, quieter time, but alas, in some virtual
form replete with head phones. When the vast majority of modern
American's get into nature's realm, they don't know what to do.
One of the reasons that ENTS
was created was to bring the essence of tree beauty and spirit
within the grasp of people who have the capacity to appreciate
trees, but need a little help in connecting and companionship to
prevent them from feeling isolated. The good side of technology
is the capability it gives tree people to share experiences with
one another over great distances. So here I sit, babbling away,
occasionally looking up to stare out the window and into the
blue green needles of a glorious white pine and listening to the
penetrating shrieks of blue jays. Don't know what it all means,
but I like it. I like it.