NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Yearly Thing?

Well, I just had to laugh out loud when Sharon chastised me in the comments section for spending all my money on shoes.  Don't worry, Sharon, Wayne's on board with me babying my feet with as many shoes as I feel I need.   Last time we were in Gatlinburg I dragged him into Nantahala Outdoor Center and made him buy a new pair of Keen hikers!  At lunch I had mentioned that I might not come back to the Smokies for years after this trip....but after my hike today I'm thinking it might become a yearly thing.

Hen Wallow Falls Trailhead in parking lot next to Cosby Campground

This morning I was up early and as soon as it was light I drove half an hour to Cosby.  Before I even got to the parking lot I was dazzled by the dogwoods.

dogwood blossoms

If I come back again next year I want to come when the rhododendron are blooming and tent camp for a week.  Doesn't that sound great?

golden ragwort...I think
 On my way to the trailhead I had to stop to shoot some wildflowers in the ditch.

I bought "Wildflowers of the Smokies" at the Sugarlands Visitor Center today but did not find either one of these blue beauties in its pages.  Identification help appreciated!

This photo below is actually two different flowers that were cozied up together.  The one isn't unfurled yet, but the tiny white one seems to be an orchid or iris of some type judging by its "beard".  I know it's not the dwarf iris because I saw that one later in the day!

The trail to Hen Wallow Falls  is 4.2 miles round trip and with an elevation gain of 900 feet and is rated as moderate.  For a "flatlander" who has been stuck inside all winter it seemed okay at first but got tough.  When the going gets tough, the tough get going, right?

There was a lot to help keep my mind off the agony of 'da feet, including lots of new ferns sprouting....

some quiet moments just enjoying the views....

Rock Creek

a surprising encounter with a spider that was only the size of a grain of quinoa....

 and a  chance glimpse of the many legged foe that my mother described as having been in our bathroom at the lodge in Kentucky. The one in Kentucky had a quick journey down the toilet, but I left this one alone.

But the moment of joy on the trail came when I suddenly spied the elusive Painted Trillium.

This trillium is smaller than the others, and harder to find in the park.

A little easier to find is Sweet White Trillium. I found quite a few of them along the trail, especially as it kept climbing.

Sweet White Trillium

Also in abundance was Star Chickweed.  It wasn't until I got home and loaded the pictures that I even noticed the pink stamen.

Star Chickweed

I only saw a handful of Mountain Bellwort.  This sweet little yellow flower's seeds are dispersed by ants.

It took me almost 3 hours to hike the 2 miles to the top of the trail.  After all the shooting I was doing my arms were tired, after all the climbing on the rock strewn trail the bottom of my feet were sore and my quads were quivering.

When the rain started I got a little worried that I might have missed a turn, but soon enough I saw the turn-off to head to the bottom of the falls.

Shooting in the rain without a tripod while holding an umbrella over myself and my camera was a new experience!  I didn't let it stop me from taking the time to get the shots that I wanted.

Remember the two lenses I bought?  I returned the 17-40mm lens also and ended up with a Canon 28-135.   I used it to shoot every shot in this post and I'm really pleased with its overall versatility and clarity.  Now I'll have to get a polarizer for it to clean up the glare, maybe in Pigeon Forge tomorrow.

side view of the bottom of the falls

I don't mind hiking alone, but I recently decided I wanted a new hiking buddy.

My new friend fits in my backpack and doesn't argue when I want to dawdle.  As I set him/her  down at the falls I thought I might need to buy him/her a rain hat and some hiking boots.  I can't decide on a gender or a name for my new friend and I'm not getting any suggestions from the little stinker.  Any ideas?


  1. Your friend looks like a girl but can't think of a name

  2. In that 4.2 miles you managed to see so many of those tiny creatures.

  3. You got some really nice close ups. Thanks for mentioning which lens you used because I was going to ask. I just got a new camera and I'm really playing around with it.

    I have a snoopy that hangs off my backpack and goes everywhere with me. Your monkey is adorable. How about naming him "Gaitlin" or "Smokey?"

    The hiking looks great!

  4. Yep, you're catching on. It definitely needs to be a yearly thing! I'd love you to name your hiking bud something reminiscent of the Smokies, but "Smoky" seems a little too obvious. How about Cosby or Gabe or something similar that means something to you, but not necessarily to anyone else. You could always name it Sharon as a reminder of friends in Tennessee!!