This vacation couldn't have been better timed as far as outdoor activities were concerned. The weather was beautiful and most of the leaves were at their peak. Two things that we had no control over, but they cooperated all the same. These conditions had us spending much of our time saying, "Wow, look at that!"
Here is one of the awe inspiring places we visited.
On our first day, we went to Clingman's Dome which is the highest point in the Smoky Mountains at 6,643'. The drive there had us constantly climbing in elevation so that by the time we arrived, we had changed from the hardwood forests that were providing the showy leaf colors to the evergreen spruce-fir forests of higher elevations. However, the mountain top was not so green because a non-native insect, woolly adelgid, has been destroying the trees for several years now. We found it beautiful all the same.
One of the most entertaining things we saw was a young black bear in a mountain ash tree eating berries. The bear seemed a little too big for the tree as it swayed whenever the bear shifted its weight; but the bear was very agile all the same. Apparently, the bears don't like ash berries that well, but it was a bad summer for the better tasting things such as blueberries and acorns. So, I guess it takes what it can get.
|The observation tower for Clingman's Dome has a very long spiral ramp.|
|The view from the top showed the spruce-fir forest with the insect affected trees.|
|The bear in the ash tree trying to fatten up for winter.|
|View coming down from the top into the hardwood forests. Notice the difference from the view from the very top.|
|At the very bottom, we spent a little time by the Oconaluftee River. |
Note: We really enjoyed the people we talked to at Clingman's Dome. There was a very steep half-mile walk to the top, that had everyone huffing and puffing from the fittest to the couch potatoes. That walk along with the bear antics gave us a common bond for the morning that broke all stranger reserve,