The traditional PEAK of the color season in these parts is October 15. The tourist bureaus publish this date in hopes that those who can’t wait and come early (usually US) will come back again and perhaps again until we get it right. So here we are in the Smokies at the Peak we are always too early for, the Peak that would be altogether TOO BUSY and the Peak that you must absolutely have Reservations for. And to limit myself to one comment, IT IS SO WORTH IT.
We scored three days in mid week at Elkmont Campground to give Patty a chance to check on “her” bears. She has a racking cough and bad cold but wanted to go anyway; we could do a lot of leaf peeping and bear watching from inside the car –- that’s what everybody else will be doing.
The ride up to the Blue Ridge Parkway was full of yellows and golds, smooth climbing on new pavement, no traffic at all. Last night’s rain cleansed everything and wet leaves spun up in the car’s wake and stuck to the awning supports of the trailer.
On top, it was sunny for the first miles of the Blue Ridge. The clouds were rising from the low lands and the sun backlit the mostly brown and gold slopes, Water sliding down the rock faces of Looking Glass Rock caught the sun and explained why the Indians chose this name. We got no pictures here for most of the primo overlooks were far too crowded to let a trailer stop. The best view of the big waterfall in Graveyard Fields is along the road south of the parking area and there was a gauntlet of photographers to pass through, just a little hint of what to expect from the Peak in the Park.
The last part of our Blue Ridge Ride was in the overcast, lots of wet rock cuts and descending turns. Climbing in the GSMNP, we found the “Peak” crowds. Each overlook near Newfound Gap was packed, but the views WERE SO WORTH IT! Perhaps the driver was a little too enthused; he kept waking up the passenger who dozed occasionally due to inordinate use of cough medicines.
We claimed our choice campsite (E-11) but had to backtrack six miles to take on water; who knew there was no hydrant to fill RV tanks? It was late and the patient over tired so we called it a night. (sounds of rushing water all around.)
Next morning we braved the Cades Cove Loop to see “our bears”. We have a string of bear sightings going back several years to protect. It was a beautiful day, a bumper crop of walnuts still lying roadside, so the bears have lots to savor. We saw lots and Lots of automobiles…
At the Primitive Baptist Church we finally connected with Volunteer Tom Whittington and enjoyed his excellent talk on the religious life of the Cove. But that was enough excitement for Patty and we retraced to Elkmont for a Nap. Al fished some new water and the impatient patient just wanted to be “rid of this coughing mess.”
Our Elkmont stay spun away quickly –- nights in the high thirties, sunny in the late afternoons and a little lightning and winds the last night to send us packing. Patty slept a good deal of the time and Al became one of those old men at the campground who observe arriving campers and judge their connubial cooperation … He walked the campground reporting 5 Airstreams, 6 Turkeys, 2 Flamingos and one marriage on the ragged edge…