Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mountain Mama: Minus the Mama Part...because I know some of you just got excited when you saw "Mama"!

We headed north this past weekend to spend some time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Apparently everyone else on the east coast did too.  The roads were busy, but lucky for us we spend most of our time in the woods taking in the breathtaking scenery.

Just as we entered the GSM National Park, the sun was trying to peak over the horizon. I gasp at the sight of these beauties just around the bend. I had no clue there were Elk in the southeastern US!  Clearly they weren't phased by the cars pulling over to snap a shot.

We made our way to Newfound Gap and hit the Appalachian Trail on our way to Charlie's Bunion.  We were so fortunate to be hiking in such beautiful weather.
Another surprise awaited us as we made our way up the trail...SNOW! 
We finally reached Charlie's Bunion, spent some time taking in the views and refueled with some trail lunch.  
  The scenery made the 4 mile hike in worth the trek!
After finishing up our day hike, we headed over to a trailhead closer to a shelter where we'd stay the night. 
 Our home for the night, Mt Collins Shelter.  Are you wondering why we didn't stay in a hotel where they have central heat, running water and comfy beds?  Well that's because I win WIFE OF THE YEAR and 'roughed it' for a night in a shelter where there are no doors, no running water, no electricity, no privacy and no 'plumbing'.  But there was a lovely tarp to separate the sleeping area from the eating area, a fancy privy (out house) just around the corner and water...in Nalgene bottles.  
But we did bring one creature comfort...our little propane heater.  Cory saved the day for this cold girl!  The temp got down to 29 degrees Saturday night.
After a night filled with mysterious noises (did I mention there was a bear warning at this shelter?!?), hot flashes (thanks to my -20 degree bag) and numerous of efforts to get comfortable sleeping on a 2 inch mat...the dawn drew us all outside to begin breakfast and pack up camp.
Waking up with a little coffee.  Thank you Jesus for coffee in the woods!
Next stop of the morning, Clingman's Dome, the highest peak in the GSM National Park.  Aren't the clouds over the valley beautiful?!
We made it to the top and spent some time pinpointing surrounding mountains in the 360 degree view.  See that mountain in the distance behind us...the highest one?  We'll be spending the night up there, at the world famous lodge, in April and this Mountain Mama (minus the mama part) is pumped...electricity, bears, elk or not!

Cory says they'll have heat, beds, thick wool blankets and family style home cooked meals scheduled around the sunrise and sunset. I was sold when he said heat!