Hiking and Kayaking with Friends in Fall!
by Rachelle Siegrist
Boy has it ever been a busy week! Not only are we getting everything ready to head to Easton, MD for the upcoming Waterfowl Festival, but I also finished my latest pet portrait commission, which will be featured on a special post this Wednesday, and we’ve been enjoying spending time with friends visiting the area. One day this past week was spent on the water again, paddling with friend Linda, while taking in all of the stunning fall color remaining in our area!
Linda was delighted to paddle where water and mountains meet, enjoying the best of two worlds! We spent time watching an Osprey soar above, then suddenly dive into the water below several times, sending great big splashes into the air each time! While paddling along at times we were surrounded by dozens of warblers checking and calling to one another! Turtles and fish were also spotted while heading to the perfect picnic spot. The sounds of a gentle breeze rustling the leaves mixed with chirping crickets filled the air, as we watched golden leaves swirling slowly through the air, landing on the glassy water’s surface below.
It was mesmerizing to say the least, and soon we found ourselves completely relaxed as we sat there enjoying lunch! But alas there was more exploring to do, so we loaded the kayaks and off we went, traversing different areas, joyfully finding more stunning fall color with every bend in the river! Linda and I decided we could easily spend the entire day there on the glassy surfaced water, with blue skies above. Truly a happy place, where time stands still and troubles disappear!
We decided to take advantage of the unbelievably gorgeous fall weather and do an evening hike in the nearby Tremont region of the Smokies. It was a glorious evening, with perfect temperatures, as we walked along Middle Prong Trail with friends Tom and Sharon. We found just the right spot for a picnic supper, announcing that it’s amazing how much better everything tastes when eaten in the woods! It was most peaceful hearing only the sounds of rustling leaves as we walked along the winding path.
Friday we joined Wes’ childhood buddy, and best man in our wedding, Jim and his family, as well as about a dozen of their friends who were visiting the Smokies. It was another picture perfect afternoon as we hiked in the Elkmont region of the Smokies. After Wes gave a brief history lesson about the area and historical cabins still standing, we were off on a hike along the Little River Trail.
The air was filled with much conversation as we went along and I must admit a personal highlight was meeting a meteorologist named Randal, who shared stories with me about tornadoes and numerous storm chasing trips! That’s something my brother and I have always wanted to do, so needless to say I was thrilled to hear all about it, and totally impressed with his vehicle tag which, although missing letter, read as tornado!
Saturday brought more fun with friends, as we met up in the Clingman’s Dome parking lot with friend David and his family visiting the area, Paul, Sharon and Daniel. The frigid air had us suiting up before heading down the Andrews Bald trail! It was yet another splendid fall day and I was dazzled by the beauty of the abundant bright red Mountain Ash berries everywhere, which were absolutely stunning against the brilliant blue sky!
Laughter could be heard miles away coming from our happy group as we hiked along telling stories and catching up after us having not seen them in over a year! Time flies when you’re having fun and we soon found ourselves leaving the seclusion of the forest and walking out onto the grassy topped bald, and of course it was beautiful! We picked out the perfect location for our lunch, spread out a blanket and settled in for awhile.
Of course during our mountaintop picnic we did more laughing than anything, and at times I was bent in two, holding my stomach in pain and wiping tears from my eyes! I love to laugh and play in the woods with friends, and can’t think of a better way to spend a day! Both hillarious and unbelievable stories were told and even some with a bit of truth to them, all while enjoying the warmth of the sun and intense beauty surrounding us! Then a smile covered my face, when our friends pulled out a brand new box of Swiss Miss Rolls, a special favorite treat that spans many years of hiking with the Wietlisbach gang! Soon it was time head back down the trail, and we were off still talking and laughing as we went.
Sometime later we arrived back at the parking lot and couldn’t believe the amount of people and cars there! It looked like we were at Disney World and was hard to imagine the complete serenity we enjoyed just a couple of miles away on the bald! We had enjoyed another awesome day hike together and as soon as we said goodbye were already looking forward to their next visit!!
Wes and I will be in the Avalon Theater this year!
Until next time . . .