First day of an extended weekend trip to the Smokies.
Janet and I had done a very similar trip to this before in 2015, so it was relatively predictable. Drove overnight Wednesday to get to Gatlinburg and then got a hotel on the outskirts of Smoky Mountain National Park to do some hiking and picture taking. The 2017 version started a bit later than typical – we left Chicago at about 1AM or maybe a bit later. Janet drove for a while and I think I took over somewhere just south of Louisville. We got to the park visitor center around 11AM.
Our day 1 hike was up Little River Trail, continuing onto the Husky Gap Trail which was reportedly good for wildflowers. There wasn’t a specific destination for this one, we decided to turn around where it meets up with Sugarland Mountain Trail, which made it about a 10 mile round trip.
Apparently the park released 14 river otters which are known to live in that area, so we were on a lookout for them, but it was not successful. We did succeed in finding a bear. Given that in the previous two trips to the Smokies we had only ever seen one bear, it was a bit surprising to stumble across on our first day, though probably due to the lack of people after the first mile or so of trail. We had stopped momentarily on the trail and heard it rustling around in the brush just down the hill. It came into sight for a moment, but I didn’t have the camera out to get any good pictures. After a little bit it got wise to our presence and scurried off into the valley.