We left the house this past Wednesday morning, driving along the winding road leading through the Park, until we found ourselves arriving at the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area. There we parked the van, strapped our waist packs on, and with walking sticks in hand began making our way to the trail head for the Curry Mountain Trial. We started ascending right away and would do so for the next several miles. Up . . . up . . . we went, as we walked on the trail following along the outside edge of the mountains. With the winter trees bare of leaves, we were afforded a stunning view of the nearby and far off mountain ranges, which appeared to shift and change shapes as we wound our way up and along the narrow trail. Then a dense forest of Rhododendrons seemed to suddenly surround us, all with leaves gracefully folded down, as if praying for the warmth of spring to return, thus creating a most peaceful and serene setting. Their graceful limbs arching and touching up above, creating a natural tunnel of green, for us to walk through. As we went along, the Rhododendron forest would suddenly turn into a forest of Mountain Laurels, with hundreds of them surrounding us, displaying their ancient, lichen covered trunks and limbs. Winding our way upward, it would seem that all at once, we were again surrounded by another thick Rhododendron forest. It was in these beautiful lush areas, that the lovely trilling calls of various songbirds filled the air.
The moss, and even the stiffer variety of lichen or Soldier Moss, was amazingly lush and so very soft to the touch, because of our recent rain. I must admit that once again I could not resist stopping to pat it, and was delighted to have worn my mittens in which the mitten part can be folded back, revealing ones fingers, obviously making them perfect for such an occasion as moss petting! Even Wes couldn’t resist it a couple of times and got in on the moss petting action! Some sections of the trail were lined on either side by these gorgeous, bright green mounds of moss. Imagine my surprise when we finally arrived at where we would enjoy our picnic lunch, a beautiful old cemetery that too was covered with moss! The sun shining through the leafless trees, created a most stunning array of shadowy patterns, gracefully falling on the soft moss covered ground below. As we stood there in this beautiful setting, it was most peaceful . . . “dead quiet” as a matter of fact . . . hee hee! We sat to the side of the cemetery, on a fallen tree trunk, and enjoyed our peanut butter, raisin and honey sandwiches Wes had made earlier that morning. Although they were delicious and much more moist than our previous honey-less sandwiches, they were much more messy. The honey had made it’s way to one corner of the sandwich, saturating the paper towel which had been carefully wrapped around them, and mine had oozed out and covered the opening flap of the plastic wrap, making it impossible to open without covering my hands with the sticky substance. I finally managed to get it open and eat it, and was quite thankful there were no Black Bears nearby at that point! Upon finishing our tasty little picnic, we picked up the fallen limbs and bit of debris that cluttered the area, as a way to pay respects and make it lovely for the next visitor.
From there we decided to hike on up to the trail marker for the Meig’s Mountain trail, as we’re trying to hike and connect as many of the Great Smoky Mountains trails as we possibly can. So onward we went, walking quietly along, soaking in the amazing beauty that surrounded us and simply enjoying the beautiful day we had been blessed with! The azure blue sky above, had not a single cloud in it, and I along with the surrounding trees, enjoyed being drenched in this warm afternoon light. After leaving the cemetery, the woods had changed from that being filled with thick groves of Rhododendrons and Mountain Laurels, to woods taken over by grapevines. They grew everywhere, all along the ground, growing up into all the nearby trees and encasing them in what appeared as a shroud of death. Now in the summer I know this would look like a fairytale playground, but in the dead of winter it took on a very solemn almost scary appearance. The somewhat eerie scene made you feel like you had better keep walking at a brisk rate or else you too would be encased by these insatiable vines, becoming like one of these skeletal victims. An hour or so later we arrived at the trail sign, where we began our journey back down the winding trail. About three hours later, we arrived at the beginning of the trail, where we had started our journey early that morning. On the lovely drive home following alongside the river, we stopped to take a few photos and admire the amazing clear and gorgeous colored water. The recent record setting rain and melting snow have brought life back to our somewhat lifeless river, clearing the water and causing it to come to life as it roared and crashed down over the numerous rocks scattered throughout it.
Meanwhile back at the studio . . . we’ve been very busy getting ready for our 13th year at the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston, SC, and we are quite anxious to see many of you there this weekend! Wes spent quite a bit of time framing several new miniature paintings, which will debut at the show this weekend! I spent this afternoon, and will spend a part of tomorrow, finishing a miniature painting which I have been working on almost two weeks now, and it too will debut at the show.
Fresh off the easel: This week Wes finished his miniature paitning of a beautiful Cassowary, which we photographed at the zoo in Melbourne last June, while visiting with my family. It too will be displayed at the SEWE show this coming weekend.
Come See Our Paintings This Week:
Until March 10th
February 15-17, 2013: Charleston, SC ~ We’ll be here with 40 of our miniature paintings!
To view all our upcoming exhibits: http://www.artofwildlife.com/exhibitschedule.html
Have a loved one or a beloved pet you would like captured in miniature? Contact and commission us!
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Wishing you a very Happy Valentine’s Day!
Until next time ~ Rachelle