The Synchronous Fireflies Event will be May 31 - June 7. The lottery for parking passes is over. Apparently, this is a major event, who knew all this flashing electricity was going on in the Smokey Mountains. I need to get out more and discover. I can offer you a brief overview of things you can see just by taking the main road through the park from North Carolina to Tennessee. If you have the time explore more, I have "bearly" scratched the surface.
Mingus Mill, an 1886 turbine mill grounded corn into meal and wheat into flour. A steel turbine provided power to run the mill stone and machinery. Mingus Mill was one of the first historical buildings restored in 1937. You can slightly see the initials of Sion Thomas Early, a millwright above the third floor window. Early built the mill in three months at a cost of $600. How many "productive" buildings can be constructed that quickly today with such a fine budget? Progress.
Lufty Baptist Church located in the Smokemont section was established in 1836 and reconstructed in 1912. Note the material used for elevation, it looks a little rocky to me. Oconoluftee Baptist Church was added to the NRHP in 1976. The doors are open and you are welcome inside. The interior was restored by the National Park Service.
The fauna you may find at Great Smokey Mountain National Park varies.
No, I did not see a salamander and frankly I don't know how I missed them being they are one of the unique features at the park. I believe that to be a maple leaf it is sitting on so you can get an idea of their size...small and slimy. This would not be my first species to search for but that is just me. I can however tell you, how to spot a bear.
Here is another type of salamander to help the next explorer discover them. I am guessing these smaller creatures would be better at dispersing a crowd as opposed to the crowd the bears gather. This is just a hypothesis I fail to understand.
A couple driving by while we were admiring a waterfall kinda ruined the surprise for us but I already knew that if traffic is backed up, cars are parked where they should not be and people are running across the road smiling, giggling and pointing, there is bear in the area. We are the Great Smokey inhabitants of the the day, tourists. I will admit it is the closest to a bear I have ever been. When the grazing family started to head up hill, I headed back to the car. You can see that the mama bar is tagged and just around the bend, we saw a park ranger on his way to observe and protect. I do not know if all bears are tracked but this one was. The people are tracked by cell phone, just about everyone had theirs out.
It is hard to tell by my award winning photography but there are three cubs and the mama bear, which I just learned last week is called a sow, an adult female of many species including, the bear are sow.
My best shot was a baby bear. It was a cute little thing at a distance.
I saw turkeys, but once they saw me that was the end of that. They can move very fast in the opposite direction, especially if you start to gobble. I think they find it disturbing.
The flora was also flourishing at the park. I did not see any pink ladyslippers, perhaps it was not the season or they had not blossomed yet. I wish I could identify and acknowledge the diverse plants found in the wild, it seems the prettiest ones get all the praise.
Of course the vistas at the overlooks will make anyone stop, pause, take a deep breath and marvel at nature and read a sign or two provided by the NPS, just in case you want to appreciate the details. Who doesn't? You are looking at the master plan provided by nature. This is when you have to say, thank goodness someone had the sense to save it.
We may have all been complaining about the rain these past weeks it was all over Facebook but look at the beauty and the power it creates. Where would we be without water? One couple remarked about the waterfall, it did not look like this last week. Where does it begin and where does it end? Let us be grateful for one drop of rain and its flow.
A bill was signed in 1926 by President Calvin Coolidge to establish Great Smokey National Park and Shenandoah National Park. The park was formally dedicated in 1940 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Here you see the Rockefeller Monument located at Newfound Gap. It is named for the mother of John D. Rockefeller who donated $5 million towards the purchase of the land.
The monument is next to the Appalachian Trail path that runs from Maine to Georgia in the United States. The trail winds through more than 2,150 miles and 14 states. That pathway alone is momentous.
The Great Smokey Mountains cannot only connect you with nature, it has international connections.The park became a Sister Park with Khao Yai National Park, in the Kingdom of Thailand in 2013. It was chosen as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1983 and an International Biosphere Reserve in 1988 (SAMAB) Southern Appalachian Man and the Biosphere.
Much of the credit to the pathway for the common man in our original National Parks belongs to the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) and the upkeep to the National Park Service. I heard Secretary Jewell (DOI) interviewed and she was asked which park was her favorite, her reply, "I love all my children equally". I personally do have a favorite and I will gush about it in a later blog but I will agree she has many gems.
How many hearts with warm red blood in them are beating under cover of the woods, and how many teeth and eyes are shining! A multitude of animal people, intimately related to us, but of whose lives we know almost nothing, are as busy about their own affairs as we are about ours.
- chapter 1: The Wild Parks and Forest Reservations of the West found at John Muir wikiquote.
Who says America doesn't already have things that are great?
Obviously they have never been on Top of Ole Smokey.
2016 is the 100th Anniversary of our National Parks, get out there and enjoy, there is a lot to love.
Sometimes I list 10 and other times it is hard to know where to stop. It is one of those things that comes with age and the experience. You just have to go with it.