Smoky Mountains Day Four
Sissy Hike and a Bear
I desperately wanted to do the Chimneys today, my favorite hike in the Smokies, but no one else was up for 2 miles “straight up”. Bummer. However, we need to keep up our self image as hikers, so we decided to go very low key and hike to Laurel Falls. We had to troll for parking , since it was packed with cars up and down the road. The Laurels hike is a pretty (though paved) hike 1.3 miles one way with a respectable elevation gain. With lots of people. Part way up the trail a small crowd had gathered and sure enough, there was a small black bear foraging in the valley below the trail only 100 yards away. This is the first bear in the wild Linda and I have seen since childhood. Kind of amazing.
Make the Best of It
When we get to the beautiful falls the log bridge over the river is lined with people and it is approaching a traffic jam. No problem. A climb down below the falls and a few minute rock hopping and we are sitting on slabs of rock in the shade, no people in sight and the rushing of the river drowning out the sound of the people a few hundred yards upstream. A beautiful time of relaxing with God, nature and a kindle book. The walk back down from the falls is a steady paved downhill . Normally, we would disdain a paved trail, but today it is a nice contrast to the Andrew’s bald trail yesterday.
Two Hours of Tourism
This afternoon we went into Gatlinburg for our token two hours of tourism. Most of the shops look like the cruise ship section of Playa del Carmen (read: junk). There are a few cool places. The Day Hiker in “The Village” shopping center is pretty cool and they have a variety of t-shirts that are much better than the corny ones you can get in the visitor centers in the park. PETA members stop reading , but I did buy an airsoft pistol powered with a CO2 cartridge to help my wife with the battle to keep the squirrels off the bird feeders at home. It will only sting, I promise.
We ate supper at Los Rancheros across from the convention center . It was pretty decent. We tried the pollo mole poblano and the pollo mole ranchero. The poblano was better. Aaron got the vegetarian Quesadilla de hongo. It was only fair. Everything was fairly good. The margarita was a mix , but still pretty acceptable. They have Dos Equis and Sam Adams on tap. On the down side, the guacamole is not a high percentage of avocado.