Sunday, September 18, 2011
Imagine, if you will, A shiny Airstream by a tranquil mountain lake with the Great Smokies rising blue and green in the background. Imagine again the whole range of the Smokies from Mt Leconte to Thunderhead with that same Airstream in the foreground. Can you see the mountains framed in the Airstream door? Now imagine the photographer, palm slapped forcefully against his forehead….Yes, the delete button. Sorry guys, no pictures today.
The roads (and the views) were great –- trust me. We stayed clear of Maryville and opted for Pumpkin Center and the lead in to the “Dragons Tail” (HWY 129) with its warnings about hairpin turns, switchbacks (perhaps dragons?). “Consider an Alternate Route.” We, of course, considered the Foothills Parkway with all its glorious views of the mountains we were seeking. We stopped to walk to the observation tower at Look Rock and to breathe what is certifiably the worst air pollution in the country (coal fired power plants from Texas and the TVA funnel air past this first high spot going eastward.) The view was awesome though we were told it was better before the aforementioned improvements.
We picked up groceries and pizza in Townsend arriving in the Cades Cove campground at perhaps its most hectic time of the week. The crowds were flowing out of the Cove Road, stopping for Ice cream, the picnic area was also draining. Harleys were making their presence known accelerating up to Crib Gap, a string of arriving campers were jockeying for positions and a few of the established campers were running generators that belonged on a construction site. This was quite a contrast to the last few days in the National Forest.
In just a couple hours it started to quiet down. We walked the ”non generator” loop and found it quieter and less hectic. The Group camping was empty and deer grazed in the green spaces; Anthony Creek made its own sweet sounds. By quiet time, we almost missed the coyote barks we left back at Tellico.