Updated: Feb 2
Sooo, we had another adventure! This time we were in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. We picked up Lee (my brother) Thursday morning and made the 9 hour trek to our campsite at Elkmont Campground. Garrett had been up for almost 24 hours from being on call the day before. So, a couple hours into the trip, Garrett took a nap and I took the wheel! It was my first time driving the Jeep with our camper hooked to it. Luckily, we had Lee with us, so he became my co-pilot. Lee operated the music along with the directions while I drove the camper with white knuckles for about three hours. Haha
When Garrett woke up we switched to him driving again. I think it was because he was scared for his life.. lol Once we hit Pigeon Forge we knew we were close! Entering into the National Park was amazing. The busyness of Pigeon Forge ended abruptly and nothing but peaceful greenery was all around us. Our campsite was no different. Elkmont Campground is right by a small but rushing river and it’s all you can hear when you’re in camp.
We picked a campsite that had no hookups and limited generator hours. Since we couldn’t have our generator on past 8:00 we needed to work fast to get our Rolling Bean set up. All three of us buzzed around the campsite to make sure we weren’t stuck in the dark. After camp was set up Garrett and Lee (my two Eagle Scouts) started a fire. I got all the things out for our little hotdog and s’mores dinner. We then dropped Lee off at my cousins apartment and headed back to camp. We all went to bed as soon as possible because my cousin Sierra had an early (but awesome) morning of zip lining planned!
We all got up at about 6:00 am and headed to Climbworks - Smoky Mountains. My cousin had an amazing zip lining job there over the summer and gave us an amazing experience we’ll never forget! Just being able to see the Smokies from that vantage point while peacefully gliding through the trees gives you a feeling that’s almost indescribable.
The next day we didn’t get up as early (thank goodness haha). Garrett and I got our gear together and headed off to hike Mount LeConte. Hiking Mount LeConte was amazingly beautiful. There was an abundance of wildlife. From a super friendly squirrel that almost did anything to get one of our cookies, to a lumbering black bear that was completely unbothered by our presence. Since we were literally hiking up a mountain, it was a little bit of a rough hike. But we made it to the top and it was so worth it! We I hiked the highest natural peak in the Smoky Mountains. It’s 2,750 feet up and 6,594 feet above sea level. It was an amazing experience that we will never forget.
Our last full day in the Smokies, we met up with my brother and my cousin for a little hike/photo project. Before we went to Tennessee we were approached by Proof Eyewear. They asked that we take the sunglasses that they sent us on an adventure and capture all the things we did. So of course we drafted Lee and Sierra into being our models. We took our time visiting pretty little nooks. While we were driving back to camp, the traffic started to get increasingly bad. We decided to pull off and see what was going on. Here, there was a black bear that had fell asleep in a tree while eating cherries. Unfortunately we couldn’t snap a good picture, but it was definitely an adorable sight.
Yet again, Garrett and I woke up super early Sunday morning. We wanted to capture a mountain sunrise on our last morning we had there. The colors and the progression of the clouds were definitely worth capturing at 5:00 am. After that we decided to go do a tiny bit more exploring since the mist on the mountains was so beautiful. We had the dewy mountain side all to ourselves (aside from an occasional biker). It was probably the most peaceful ending to a trip we ever had.
The Smoky Mountains are so incredibly beautiful and we hope we did it justice capturing it.
Tennessee Sky, Stephen Keech: