I’m a bit behind. These photos document the second and final part of our May journey to Eastern Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains. So much time has passed. Summer always gets away from me. In the past I’ve spent the summer traveling for conservation work, but this year I’m in one place but working two great jobs and barely find time for any personal internet-ing and computer use. I’ve been to Maine a few times, have gone canoeing when I can, picked blueberries over the weekend, and get to hike around the woods for one of my jobs. It’s been great, but I’d like to keep up on here. Let’s see if this post gets me going again.
So many rhododendrons!
Six of us piled into a Buick for our driving-tour of the Great Smokys. Good people, good woods, hilarious ride.
Oh so many dead hemlocks. Eastern Hemlocks are my favorite tree and it was strange and eye-opening to see the damage the woolly adelgid as done to them in this part of the country.
Self-timer success :)
The trail to the Chimneys. Amaaaaazing rock staircases!
Old friends reunited in the forest.
Beautiful old-growth trees on the Chimneys trail.
I couldn’t resist a hug for one of the thriving hemlock trees along the trail!
Just a few rhododendrons still blooming.
So many lost hemlocks!
At the end of our last day in Tennessee we drove to Elkmont to see the synchronous fireflies. I really don’t know how to describe this experience. It was incredible. It was STUNNING. We sat in the dark in camp chairs on the side of the trail and watched the forest like it was the Omni Theater. The fireflies flash 7-9 times then go dark for a few moments. All together. Sometimes their flashing would wave across the woods from one side of your sight to the other. Other times they would really all flash together. I must see this phenomenon again in my lifetime. The sight of the forest lighting up in unison is something I will never forget.
I loved our trip to Tennessee and I very much hope to return again some day. Our very good friends that we visited are in the beginning stages of starting their own conservation corps in the Great Smoky Mountains. They are called the Smoky Mountain Corps and have big dreams and big hearts for a successful program. Our group of friends are all alums from a residential conservation corps program in the Northeast. I really, really hope the Smoky Mountain Corps comes to life and generates the same friendships, learning experiences, hard work, and great trail-work that we were able to experience. They have a Facebook page, a blog, and a kick-off campaign. Please check them out and if you know of anyone in Eastern TN that can help this program succeed, please be in touch!