To get to Rich Mountain Road you have to get on Cade Cove Loop Road. Since it was Saturday afternoon we had a bit of traffic to wait behind, but because we were going so slow I spotted some huge orange fungi sprouting from a tree.
I've seen two other photographers shooting fungi and lichen since we've been here. It's always good to know you're not the only kook out there, right?
From 1830 to 1930 Rich Mountain Road was the main road from Tuckaleechee (Townsend) to Cades Cove. Now it's a 7 mile one-way gravel road that few bother to check out.
In two spots you can get some great views of Cades Cove. When I drove it in the spring I saw a lot of spring wildflowers, but this time it was the Mountain Gentian that was growing on the steep sides of the switchbacks.
We didn't see any wildlife on the drive, but it was nice just to get away from the crowds. When we drove the loop yet again on Monday we didn't see anything (from the car) either but we had to deal with all those other vehicles.
When we went back again yesterday (Monday) it was because both Wayne and I are fighting a virus and after my morning hike we needed something easy to do while Wayne continued to rest.
|Cable Mill overshot water wheel|
We don't normally stop at the interpretive sites along the loop, so our goal was the visitor center and Cable Mill at the halfway point. Traffic was so heavy and delayed that I got out and started walking within the first half mile. It was a bit breezy, but with the warm weather it was a great combination for walking. With traffic at a complete standstill Wayne didn't catch up to me until past the Rich Mountain Road exit. I hopped into the truck again for another half mile but then got antsy and got out again. What's the point of telling you all this? Because I got out again I got a glimpse of a black bear taking off into the high grass in the pasture across from the path to Abrams Falls. Wayne and the other motorists who kept shaking their head at me as I walked past did not see the bear. Sorry, no pictures though!
|Creek feeding the mill|
By the time Wayne caught up to me again I was almost at the parking lot for the visitor center so we just met up there. The mill was closing up for the day, so we just wandered around and had a quick peek at the buildings. It wasn't doing it for me...but I was interested in the wetlands out behind them.
|This fungi specimen was about the size of a football!|
We flipped over a few rocks and poked at some piles of leaf litter hoping to run across some salamanders, but no luck there. We'll keep looking. Lots of time this trip to see things.
I got some great light coming back onto the road in the truck and took a shot of the mountains, but after that there wasn't much to see and traffic was slow again. You know what I did then, right?
I didn't walk far, but I got some more great views of the valley. I did just under 3 miles on the Middle Prong Trail in the morning and then probably about another 3 miles on Cades Cove Loop in the afternoon. Not bad for a girl living on Advil and Sudafed.
On our way into Cades Cove we spotted this deer and two of his friends making their way across the road. Drive safe and keep your eyes open, folks!
The wifi signal here in Townsend is so bad that today we stopped at Starbucks while out running errands in the rain to get my pictures finally loaded. I'm hoping this is the last day of rain while we're here, it's been raining pretty steady. I'm happy for the residents, I know they had an unusually dry summer. We're thinking it might be passing soon so we're off to The Sinks to see what the water's doing!