Oconaluftee Visitor Center and more of Smoky Mts
Where was I to spend the second day in the Smoky Mts? I was really undecided. Going into the Smoky Mountains via the Visitor Center was a decision the very same morning. It turned out to be a lucky one. I got more information and directions as well as some cherished seeds for Cornus florida.You can read about the first day here.
I took a walk around the little farm at the visitor center trying to imagine living and working the land. The houses have been moved from the Deep Creek area where I spent the day before.
Then I went back to my car and followed the road along the Oconaluftee river deeper in to the Smoky Mts. There were pockets for parking every other hundred meters and great opportunities to stop and get out of the car and close to the river. I was looking for the small details and the plants I grow at home.
After a number of stops along Oconaluftee river the road started winding up and into the Smoky Mountains. And a perfectly beautiful and sunny day turned colder and gray. I was headed for Clingman Dome the highest view point of the whole preservation. But up here the snowfall that I’d heard about was evident. The sun had disappeared and it was a grayish depressing snow melt on the ground. Just like I’m used to at home. Most pictures from up here are quite boring despite the grand views And I wasn’t that tempted to stay on. I’d rather head down again and find a trail that the gate keepers had pointed out on the map for me.
What I missed on the way up was a small hiking trail – yes I could have hiked the whole way up to Clingman Dome. But I found it on the way down. Still a gray sky but not nearly as cold down here. More flowers and some that I hadn’t seen before.. The american dogs tooth, Erythronium americanum, for instance. First I saw one but after a couple of minutes walking there were mini meadows of the leafs. It can be a bit scarce with it’s flowers and set more leafs and runners.
The evening before I went up on the Blueridge Parkway the evening based on recommendations. Waited for little over an hour at the highest point. I got freezing cold in the icy cold wind. But it’s worth having seen the sun set there. And this way I got to see over to the Smoky Mts and from Clingman Dome to Blueridge Peaks.