Sunday, 1 December 2013

Grotto Falls Trail ~Smokey Mountain National Park

Sneak peek of the view through the trees along the trail.
Although our trip was cold and wet, we did take advantage of our one clear day.  We took the afternoon to hike to Grotto Falls in Smoky Mountain National Park.  The hike was three miles total to the falls and back to the car.  We took our time, and ate lunch right past the Falls.  Here are my pros and cons of the trail the day we hiked it….

  • The hike is moderate, but I did not feel so overexerted that I did not enjoy our final destination.
  • It can be done quicker at a faster pace in order to see more of the park after you have finished it.
  • Great scenery long the trail and at Grotto Falls.
  • It is a popular trail, and was very crowded.  Both walking along the trail and at the Falls.  
  • The ice melting from the morning and all the traffic caused the trail to get very slippery and muddy coming back.  I would suggest tackling the trail early to avoid this.
  • The bathrooms at the trailhead were retched.  There are no other words for it.  My friend looked inside one, and would not continue past the door.  
Visit here for more information on the other waterfalls at Smokey Mountain National Park we did not visit on this trip.  

A little nature scenery along the trail. 

I think that could be a great fairy home.

It was so cold there are icicles along the trail.

View from the Falls

Now that is a Rugged Bunch!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Cold Weather Camping at Elkmont in Smokey Mountain National Park

Our tent at Elkmont
While others go to Tennessee and stay in cabins for cozy mountain Thanksgivings, we stayed in Smokey Mountain National Park over my break.  We chose Elkmont Campground because it was still open this late in the season.  This was serious cold weather camping at an elevation of 2,150 feet and our coldest night at 21 degrees Fahrenheit.  Each campsite has a fire pit, table, and elevated pad for tents.   

As far as a site with many camping spaces, this was one of the best I have visited.  We enjoyed our tent side view of Little River, and the facilities.  (No showers included!)  Being so late in the season there was room between most spots.  We stayed for two nights, but did allow the snow to cut our trip short.  We worried the roads would ice over with the winter storm that moved across Tennessee this holiday.  

If you would like to visit Elkmont just keep a few of these things in your mind.
  • All food and items to prepare it must be closed up in a camper, vehicle, or closed trailer.  This is bear country and the fines are serious.
  • All firewood must be purchased through the park.  This is the prevent the spread of invasive species into the park.  
  • Six people per campsite.  
Here are a few more from our campsite.  

The river that runs through Elkmont Campground
View from our tent
Chilly Morning Camping 
Camp Cafe
Brats on the grill 
Stay tuned for more pictures from our campsite and maybe some cold weather camping tips.

Monday, 7 January 2013

2012 In Review

Although 2012 has not been our most adventurous year as far as camping trips, but some excited stuff did happen.  Here is our top 5 list!

  1. We got to Paddle Board on the crystal clear coast of Minorca, Spain.  An island off the coast of Spain that my family is from.  This was my first Paddle Board experience, but it was a lot of fun in the calm cove.  

2.  Also on our trip to Spain, we did a day hike up to the the top of the highest trail in   Urbasa y Andia National Park.  It was challenging for me, but worth it for the view.

3.  We had our maiden voyage in our two new kayaks!  We decided to buy a pair of Necky   Vector sit on top Kayaks right when the weather began heating up in the Spring.  

4.  Soon after Ed finished outfitting the Kayaks for fishing we took them to Dauphin Island Alabama.  We paddled about three miles out to an oil rig and tried our hands at fishing deeper water.  Although we only caught about four small trout, it made me feel like a boss to paddle that far in open water.

5.  In November, Ed participated in the first Spankin the Specks Kayak Fishing Tournament in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.  This was the first tournament of its kind in Mississippi, and Ed's team took all the categories related to Speckled Trout including first, second, third, and the shoot out!