With our reservation made we headed to the park on July 4th. June and I tend to avoid Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and the massive crowds as much as possible. This day we came in from the East and stopped at the Cosby Campground for our big hike of the day. We had plans to hike to the Mount Cammerer Watch Tower, which is 6 miles away and 2,400 feet up from the campground. The hike up the Low Gap Trail to the Appalachian Trail was hot and tiring but worth it. We were surprised to find a small creek and this foot bridge at the very beginning of the trail. Time to take the boots off and wade into the creek for some shots!
The temps continued to rise into the mid-90's and we decided it was time for a late lunch and to head home. Little did we know that by leaving early we avoided one of the worst storms to ever hit the park. Thunderstorms brought 70 mile an hour winds and torrential rain, knocking down trees, blocking many of the park roads and killing two people. It had been so peaceful a few hours before while we were napping on boulders in the river. We had no idea of the destruction that was to come.
There may be some life lessons in our short two day trip to The Great Smoky Mountains. First, following the popular path may not lead to the best things in life. Second, sometimes we have to go down a difficult path before we see the blessings. Finally, storms are going to come through our lives, often when there are clear blue skies and we least expect them. The narrow path may be difficult and there will be storms but God has promised his blessings for us.
The Smoky Mountains is one of our favorite places to visit and we will be back and we'll hike up to Mount Cammerer and enjoy the views again. It's now one of my favorite hikes!