As we meandered up the twists and sharps turns of the road, I was afforded my first glimpse at the Great Smoky Mountains. I’ve been to Tennessee before but never had I seen the Smoky Mountains up close. And boy did they did not disappoint.
Our trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for a weekend stay in a cabin to celebrate the 40th birthday of a friend was the perfect excuse to bring the camera along for the ride. We flew into Atlanta and drove up to Tennessee and that was probably one of the best decisions we made. Just a mere 3 hours away from Atlanta, we drove up I-85 and subsequent other roads that led us to North Carolina, specifically Cherokee, NC, and then into Tennessee via the mountains.
It was raining at the base of the mountain range, but as we ascended up the mountains the rain turned to snow. The clouds were so low that they obscured the mountain ranges. The crisp chill in the air was the perfect reminder that we weren’t in South Florida any more.
The views along the way were spectacular. Rolling hills and mountain ranges coming in and out of view from the storm clouds. Water cascading down the sides of mountains, some big others slight. The water that froze hung to the granite walls in the form of giant icicles. It was picturesque to say the least.
While the majority of the weekend was filled with dining, snow activities and great times with friends I did have the opportunity to sneak out for a little exploration before some nighttime activities. With the majority of my photography these days being wrapped up in sports photography, it was great to be back out in the wild exploring.
To my surprise, the Great Smoky Mountains had an abundance of rapids and waterfalls. Kayakers were braving the frigid water, maneuvering between rocks and rapids and I had a great view perched up on some rocks that hung just above the rapids. I was able to hike 2 miles up to view the Laurel Falls and to stop occasionally to take in the views from high above. It was pretty cool to see the icicle formations on the tree branches that dangled over Laurel Falls. It wasn’t as cool walking up and the pathway was covered with ice and mud.
My exploration led me to Cades Cove where I was able to see elk and deer. Again, I never knew elk where this far east. When I thought elk my mind goes to places like Colorado or Canada. I had some great views of the valley with the mountain range providing the dramatic backdrop to the scenery. Some of the deer must of been use to people as they came perilously close to the roads but seemed unfazed by the tourist paparazzies snapping photos from their phones as they inch closer to the deer.
I was barely scrapped the surface of what was residing in the Great Smoky Mountains. I can’t wait for the next opportunity to explore deeper into these majestic mountains. I left feeling rejuvenated from a landscape photographer perspective. It got those juices to explore going once again.
You can see some videos and other photos on my Instagram page.