“Autumn Hikes in the Smokies!”
By Rachelle Siegrist
~ Hiking Middle Prong Trail! ~
Fall is a gorgeous time of the year here in the Smokies, and we enjoyed it when my parents were visiting week before last, with a hike up and along nearby Middle Prong trail. It’s a relaxing walk that follows alongside lovely Middle Prong Stream, which was rushing at full speed with the recent rainfall. The golden and red colors of fall were just starting to show on the upper leaves on some of the trees, creating for numerous picturesque areas along the way, as they reflected in the pools below.
Me, Dad and Mom on the bridge at the start of the trail
A beautiful scene along the way
A gentle fall breeze filled the air as we walked along, and we watched as the falling leaves swirled and danced about on their life’s journey to the ground below. We sauntered along stopping occasionally for photo-ops or to admire a tree dressed in red or yellow. Sometimes we went down to the stream’s edge, where we watched the water rush by, causing the reflective surface to constantly change, as colored leaves periodically passed, being carried by the currents. It was a most relaxing and enjoyable afternoon to say the least, and we made more wonderful memories!
~ Hiking the Chimney Tops Trail! ~
The new bridge at the beginning of the trail
We enjoyed the beautiful fall weather and color today while hiking up Chimney Tops Trail. It was a gorgeous drive through the park when we left early in the morning, hoping to arrive in time to still get a parking spot at the trailhead. Thankfully we found one and within minutes, Wes, Kit and I were bounding excitedly up the trail, anxious to see the improvements that the Trails Forever group has graciously made to the trail in the past couple of years. After walking a short distance along the trail we saw the new bridge, which was built to replace the last one, which a storm washed away. The emerald pool in the stream below was beautiful, especially paired with the yellow foliage surrounding it! Quickly we arrived at the first of nearly 700 man-made steps, which we would climb over the next hour and a half, along our journey to the top!
Fall splendor taken through my “fall enhancement” sunglasses
Steps . . . steps . . . . and more steps!
It’s truly amazing at the difference in the trail from when we hiked it many years ago, and we were most impressed to say the least at the wonderful improvements! Walking along, we walked through areas of what appeared to be a yellow forest, as all the trees in some sections were completely golden in hue! Paired against the clear azure blue skies above, they created a stunning display of fall color! Soon we left the company of the rushing stream behind, as we kept climbing higher and higher, stopping occasionally for a photo-op or to admire a towering ancient tree with it’s trunk covered with moss!
Standing on another bridge along the hike
Wes and Kit begin their ascent
Sometime later, we found ourselves at the beginning of the rocky section known as the Chimney Tops, where one leaves the comfort of the protective forest behind and steps out onto the craggy formation. It was then that we realized that we were not alone and that the prime ascending sections were already being occupied. So slowly I made my way up, stopping to wait for the next section to open, where you pretty much scramble up on all fours, while holding onto rocky hand grips. It isn’t for the faint of heart or for those with a fear of heights, but the rocky face offers spectacular views! I carefully sat in my stoney seat for a while just enjoying the view, before descending like a spider, on all fours, and mostly sliding on my backside all the way down!
That’s me in the pink shirt
The view from where I was sitting in the photo, that’s my shoe in the lower right corner
The stunning views from where I was sitting
We watched people slipping and sliding while making their ascent, as we sat there enjoying our picnic lunch on what felt like the top of the world. Soon the three of us started the journey back down, seeing the golden forest from a different perspective this time. By the time we got back down to the stream, the sun was shining on it, causing it to glisten and sparkle, as the waters danced down the numerous rocky cascades! So we spent some time there photographing and just merely enjoying it for the sake of its pure beauty!
Playing on big rocks by the stream
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~ The latest paintings off of the Siegrists’ Easels ~
I finished my miniature painting of a beautiful sunlit swan and Wes finished his miniature painting of a precious little Pica which we photographed during our recent visit to Colorado.
“A Perfectly Posing Pica” by Wes
I’m delighted to announce that Wes and I each won 1st place awards in the upcoming MPSGS Show!
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Until next time . . .