Well, its official, Wes is now 45, and he enjoyed a wonderful 45th birthday! It started off with me making him a veggie omelet, complete with sliced fresh orange and cinnamon toast on the side, which he quickly devoured! Then it was decided, after lunch we would drive into Cades Cove, our destination being the trailhead for Abrams Falls. It was a gorgeous Saturday, and the drive in was just beautiful as we rounded each curve in the road drawing nearer to the Cove entrance. The sun shone through the graceful, leafless trees, casting long, narrow shadows that danced across the road as we went along. We reached the trailhead after driving part way around the loop road that meanders through the Cove, and then a short distance up a dirt road. Excitement mounted in me as we parked the van, put our waist packs on and started up the trail with walking sticks in hand.
The trail starts off with a nicely built wooden bridge crossing the stream that the trail follows all the way to the falls and beyond. As we started walking, it was quite cool, and I began to think that perhaps the hiking sandals I chose to wear were indeed the wrong choice and a bit on the overly brave side. But it warmed up quickly as our hearts started pumping when we began ascending the first part of the trail. Although the temperature was in the 50’s and the sun was shining brightly above, there were still little bits of untouched snow here and there, tucked into small nocks and crannies that were being protected from the sun, by life sustaining shadows. Up and down we went over rocks and slopping through lots of mud, as we made our way closer to the falls. About half way there we came to a lovely location on the trail where you’re cresting a mountain and it is made up mainly of great big rocks and boulders of various sizes and shapes, creating a nice little lookout point. Rounding the hairpin turn, you start up the next section of the trail, this time on the north side, and much cooler than the latter. Back and forth we went, getting warm on the south sides, and then cooling off on the north. At one point while traveling the south side, the warmth of the sun had obviously warmed up the blanket of pine straw below and filled the air with the delightful scents of fresh pine tempting one’s sense of smell, with just one of the many delightful scents that await this coming spring.
As we drew nearer, the roar of the falls became much louder, and it was evident that the melting snow had contributed to a powerful explosion of water cascading over the falls. Making the final decent to the falls, I couldn’t wait to see it once again, as it’s been several years since we’ve been there. We walked down, and then stood for a minute in amazement at the falls in their full splendor, as the massive amounts of water gushed at high rates of speed crashing in the pool of water below, filling the air with the massive roar of its presence! It was the perfect location to sit a spell, and enjoy a drink and snack while absorbing in another one of nature’s many splendors. With quite a bit of remaining sunlight, we decided to head on up the trail a ways to see what lie ahead. Leaving the roar of the falls and also a more northerly side of the mountain, we started on our way up the south side. Oh, was I ever glad we decided to travel further, as the moss was everywhere and in its absolute glory! I could barely take a step or two before having to stop and pat another clump of amazingly soft and puffy moss. With the very moist winter we’ve had thus far, the moss was indeed thriving, creating almost a continuous blanket of green on either side of the path. By the time we had walked up the trail a distance and came back to the place where we had turned from the falls, there lay behind numerous patches of moss that I’m sure felt most appreciated from receiving a gentle touch and pat, of admiration.
Going back the way we came, we had to once again cross three separate foot bridges. These “bridges” are constructed from a felled tree that has been sawed to flattened it along the top and have a rustic hand rail attached, which is made from a small tree stripped of its bark. One of these bridges had a fairly good sized icy patch remaining at the beginning of it making it a bit tricky to get onto it. Bridges, and the many curves and rocks along the trail now mostly behind, we were almost back to where we started hours before. I had to make a couple of short stops along the way however, to admire a couple of locations with small cascades stretching across the river. One such spot was particularly beautiful with reflected colors of warm, rusty browns and hints of deep green here and there, being highlighted by the dancing diamond like sparkles created by the sunlight. Another enchanting spot featured aqua colored water in a deep pool that would be particularly inviting on a warm summer day, for a refreshing swim. A few steps more and we were back once again to the trailhead, where it was time to get in the van and enjoy the relaxing drive home. We ended the wonderful day with a birthday supper at Pizza Hut, where it was yummy as always! Well . . . I do hope that you enjoyed coming along on the hike with us!
Fresh off the easel: I finished my painting of a great little frog that was totally enjoying his mud hole. I’m also continuing to work on a larger 16×20 inch commission of a winery in Italy, which I am really enjoying. I’m sharing it with you in progress.
Wes finished his miniature consisting of a bunch of pretty colored rocks with a Pica in it, that we photographed while in Rocky Mountain National Park a couple of years ago. He also finished a miniature of a Polar Bear making a great spray while shaking his head after a dive under water.
Until next time ~ Rachelle 🙂