Eventually, we made it back around and into Pigeon Forge and then Gatlinburg. I won't go into too much detail about how much I hate places like Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. We braved the traffic and hoards of people and finally made it into the park. The only free national park in the US, only to find more hoards of people. We thought it might be busy due to the holiday and gorgeous weather and with the help of free admission. Well, everyone and their great-grandmothers second cousin twice removed was there.
We drove around and stopped at a few places for pictures and our packed picnik lunch and rode on to find things to explore.
At one point we pulled over to get a jackass jeep from riding our ass. 25mph in the park douchbag! I'm trying to enjoy the scenery. There was a small trail into the woods and we decided to check it out. It involved a few water crossings, lots of mosquitos and pretty water.
This might be my favorite picture from the trip, can you see Andrew in the back karate-chopping bugs? Ha!!
As soon as you get under the trees it's a humid, hair attacking rainforest atmosphere and I quickly threw my hair in a ponytail and realized from then on my pictures would not be so attractive. Oh well.
Lots of millipedes. Gross, but colorful.
We drove all the way west until we reached a section of one-way rode through Cades Cove, it takes about an hour depending on the amount of cars and if you see any bears. No bears this time, just beautiful meadows.
By the time we got back to the beginning of the park we really hadn't done any hiking and felt like we just drove through the most visited park in America. We decided to head out into Gatlinburg and back into the park to visit a waterfall a park ranger suggested.
We hiked to Grotto Falls, 1.4 is the one-way distance, and it was uphill both ways! Just kidding, it was uphill getting there. I only got injured once, climbing over a muddy, slippery tree and bruised my foot and knee, and got a nice gooseegg on my foot. That's what I get for hiking in flip-flops(I was going for lightweight).
We are planning a weeklong camping trip in the Smokies for late September, hoping to avoid some crowds and spend more time exploring the non-paved roads of this beautiful park.