J.J. and I had bear sightings in Glacier National Park (a mother and her cub running). And I saw a black bear in Yosemite when I was still a child. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the largest protected areas in the eastern United States where black bears are plentiful. Biologists estimate that roughly 1,500 bears live in the park. I hope to see one.
Our main activity for this morning was to drive to Clingman's Dome. The road was slippery from the overnight rain. As to live up to its name, the fog was heavy. A friendly ranger informed me that I probably would not be able to see anything but I pressed onto the Clingman Dome Observation Tower. At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point. Climbing up, I joined Mary and Mac from Illinois who were determined to walk the 1.3 miles paved trail.
The three of us were overcome by excitement coming to a marker indicating the Appalachian Trail. It is a 2,180 plus mile popular hiking footpath that crosses the scenic, wooded, pastoral, and sometime untamed and culturally important lands of the Appalachian Mountains.
Another photo opportunity at Mingus Mill. Our lunch stop was back in Cherokee at Paul's Family Restaurant. J.J. and I exchanged my fries with his collard greens and removing the buns made it a healthy, satisfying lunch.
Aloha -- Cathi