Cataloochee Loop Hike GSMNP October 2008

DAY 1
All togged up and ready to go on a 3 day adventure in the Smokies. It was a very beautiful, if chilly day. I was really glad to get back on a trail. It has been some time since I was hiking and I forgot how much I miss the woods.



Christine is the Trail Crew Supervisor for the Cataloochee District of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, so we took a tour of some of the trails she is responsible for mantaining and improving. About 30 miles in 2 1/2 days.


The leaves on the ground made for some great color as they completely covered the trail in golds, greens, reds, purples.




Everytime you got a glimps through the trees you could see a sea of color



Colors of the trees were in their prime


Laurel Gap Shelter, still has the old bear fence on the front, not too inviting, but we thought we would have it to ourselves... but around 7 pm, 9 first time hikers from Vanderbilt and their teacher showed up to join us.




Chistine made a great fire that warmed everything up


DAY 2
A cold and chilly morning- I look like the cousin to the Michelin Man

The moon was still up and the day was clear and inviting. Heading up to Mt.Sterling and the big climb






Along the trail there was still color, some wild flowers have survived through October.



Mt.Sterling lookout tower

Made it to the top of Mt.Sterling




What spectacular views from the top of the tower on Mt.Sterling

Perfect camp site on Mt. Sterling. 3rd Highest campsite in the Park


Went to bed with the promise of a beautiful evening full of clear skies and shining stars


DAY3 HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY CHRISTINE

Things change quickly in the Smokies especially at 6000'. Woke up to blizzard conditions with complete "white out" from the fog and clouds.

Christine had on everything she brought!

Off of Mt. Sterling in the fog and cold and back on the trail toward the Little Cataloochee trail also part of the Benton MacKaye Trail through the Park



As soon as we dropped off the mountain top the beautiful weather reappeared. Bright sunshine and the trail looked great... going down hill!



The highlight of the day was looking up! The colors of the forest canopy were spectacular.


We passed old cemetaries

Churches

and homesteads

The Smokies are always alive with color and diversity


And at the end, some of the Parks famous inhabitants.. The Elk.

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