Saturday, May 8, 2010

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK And APPALACHIAN TRAIL

The Great Smoky Mountains is an old place of rounded, worn peaks. The slow moving glaciers that flattened and scraped the areas of North America above this range, forced wildlife, plants and seeds south where they settled and adapted into this temperate climate. I recognized  trees, bushes, and wild flowers from my native Michigan, considered a cold climate, next to magnolias, tulip trees, spice bush, (below) and orchids typical of southern climes. 


 The Last of The Mohicans was filmed in the Great Smoky Mountains. Grandfather rock formations, giant waterfalls, rippling streams, miles of hovering smoky vistas, the stunning scenery from that movie hung in my dreams for many years. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was NOT that place, however.  It was filmed in these mountains far south of where we are parked. Rent the movie if you can't go. We are going to watch it again.

You can have one foot in North Carolina and the the other in Tennessee at the New Found Gap Dedication Center at the summit.
A surprise for me was that the Appalachian Trail goes right through the park. I have a friend who is walking the trail in segments, a little bit each year, and she is in her 80's.  What a legacy we have in this park. Jim and I walked the trail into each state for a short distance and happened upon John Reingold from Georgia hiking up from Fontana Dam, about halfway through the park.



Young and strong, he carries his pack with everything to eat, sleep, and drink. It took him four days to get this far. On this morning, he had already walked for over 4 hours.

The trail is rough and tumble, steep and narrow in places, trees fall on the trail. Its closed in two spots during the winter. We were pleased to find it alive with wildflowers as we wandered deeper and deeper into the canyon.





This park happened because people with foresight were alarmed at the fast disappearing landscape as commercial loggers stripped millions of miles clean of everything in sight. Congress authorized the park in 1926 and established it in 1934 after donations,  private groups, and the States of Tennessee and North Carolina raised enough funds to buy the lands needed to make it possible.





The wonder of science... In 1983 the Great Smoky National Park was recognized as a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve because of its amazing diversity. The park visitors center museum  at the Sugarland entrance has stunning portraits of insects, butterflies, and flowers. The diverse animal life, birds and plants are showcased as "live" specimens in dioramas.


 To see all 45 pictures you can see my album at the link below:
http://picasaweb.google.com/1579penn/TheGreatSmokyMountainsAndApalachianTrail5710#

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