It’s Only Natural

30 May

It was supposed to be raining when I woke up in Maggie Valley. When I’d decided to hunker down for the day, to sit-out the storm, I had visions of sleeping late, enjoying a long leisurely meal or two, and just, you know, hanging out.

So why is it that my first thought upon seeing dry pavement was, “I can ride today after all.” Maybe it’s a sickness.

Since I was close to Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), and I had yet to make it to Clingman’s Dome — highest point in GSMNP — I figured that would be a good destination. Once it did start raining, I told myself, I’d be close to shelter.

It didn’t take long at all — 20 minutes? — for me to reach the park entrance, which is near the southern terminus of the BRP. Unfortunately, when I did, I was greeted by a sign proclaiming US-441 to be closed. The Oconaluftee Visitors Center is just inside the park entrance, so I went in to find out exactly where the closure began, hoping I could reach the summit. But it was not to be.

“Actually,” one of the rangers manning the desk told me, “the Tennessee side of the park is currently being evacuated.” What?!?

The weather on the Tennessee side of the park was much worse. There were reports of trees down all over the place, falling on people and cars.

So I headed back toward Maggie Valley. I couldn’t resist stopping for some pics along the way, figuring I might as well make the most of my outing while the weather held. Here are some snapshots I judged to be worthy of sharing. Many are grainy because it was so overcast.

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It was interesting to see the difference in the foliage at lower and higher elevations. I hadn’t expected to see so many bare trees. You’ll see the change as I move from lower points near the end of the Parkway, up and into the mountains.

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Ferns

Ferns

 

Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel

 

Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel

 

Natural Heart

Natural Hearts

 

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Still pretty green, right?

 

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Looking a bit browner.

 

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Teeny Tiny Little Blossoms

 

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Green at lower elevations.

 

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The hilltops were still mostly brown.

 

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Odd name for a tunnel.

 

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You can see the sky getting grayer.

 

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Pretty little yellow flowers.

 

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Moss and lichen-covered trees.

 

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Moss and lichen-covered trees.

 

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Not much green at all.

 

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Tiny purple flower.

 

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Wintry-looking.

 

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If nothing else, I got to see some pretty cool clouds moving in. It was getting colder, too.

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Menacing Clouds

 

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Menacing Clouds

 

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It sure looked like I was about to get rained on.

 

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Cool Clouds

 

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Hints of Pink

 

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Roadside Cascade

 

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Same cascade.

Temps were in the upper 40s by the time I decided to head back to my motel. So that was my morning.

Final note… this post has been in the works for a week. I caught a stupid head cold/upper respiratory think that’s had me coughing/hacking/gagging and blowing my nose for a week. As an extra bonus, each day ended with a pounding headache, too. Last night’s was so bad, I thought maybe I was dying. Needless to say, we didn’t do any riding over the long, holiday weekend. Maybe this coming weekend I’ll feel better.

3 Replies to “It’s Only Natural

  1. Sure hope you feel better soon. At least you have happy memories of your trip to sustain you.

    Great photos. So many pretty flowers up there.

  2. Nothing in this world worse than a headcold stirred into a helmet. And on an adventure, to boot.

    Life can be challenging.

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