Outdoor Fun With Family and Friends!

From Mountain Tops to Streams!!!

by Rachelle Siegrist

Hiking GSMNP with rachelle wes siegrist.jpg
Wes, Tom, Sharon, me, George and Jeanie on our way to the bald

Wes’ parents were visiting us here in the Smokies this past week, so we took advantage of the beautiful weather and headed outdoors!  Friends, Tom and Sharon, joined us this past Monday for a day of adventure, which started with a hike to one of the lovely balds in our area.  Brilliant blue skies accompanied us overhead, as we started our hike upwards and onwards.  At 5,560 ft in elevation, the trees were still mostly bare, sporting only a few baby leaves in spots. After walking along a tree lined path, you round the corner and Voila’ . . . the woods opens up revealing the first glimpse of the grassy bald.

wes siegrist huckleberry bald
Sharon asks Wes . . . “What do you mean we’re still not to the top?”


Walking farther along we reached the crest of the lower bald, covered with yellow Buttercup blossoms, where Wes’ parents decided to stay while the rest of us hiked to the very top.

hiking the balds.jpg
A trail leading to the top of the world!

Up and up we went until we came to the very top.  It was truly magnificent, and no matter how many times I visit there, I never tire of this splendid view, while feeling on top of the world!

wes and rachelle siegrist on huckleberry bald.jpg
In one of my happy places!

Upon reaching the top of the bald, I said “I have always wanted to do this up here.” So after fixing my jacket to look like a skirt, I started spinning around slowly, arms outstretched to the side, while belting out “The hills are alive . . . with the sound of music!”  Then somehow I managed to convince Tom and Sharon to spin along with me while I sang, and so we spun . . . round and round . . . until we were totally dizzy to the point of nearly falling down and overcome with laughter!  We thought it a most brilliant performance and considered Wes lucky to have seen it!

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A slideshow of our amazing performance for your viewing enjoyment . . . Ha Ha!

We could see Wes’ parents on the lower bald, appearing as two wee white dots on a canvas of blue and green!  We felt on top of the world up there while enjoying the splendid 360 degree view, feeling as if we were earth’s only inhabitants!

lower huckleberry bald.jpg
Yep . . . the two wee white specs are Wes’ parents

Descending the bald, we found Wes parents sitting on a rock, just relaxing and enjoying the grand view!

Sittin’ on top of the world!


We enjoyed a relaxing stroll as we descended the bald, serenaded by numerous birds, such as the Chestnut-sided Warbler, singing their springtime songs and the sound of a gentle breeze blowing softly through the still barren trees.  Returning to the trailhead, we headed to our next adventure where we cooled off a bit.

rachelle siegrist swimming.jpg
Part of the gang cooling off!

It was a perfect day for a dip in the water, and even though Tom bravely dove right in, Sharon and I weren’t so brave.  It took us quite sometime to finally go under, as we competed seeing who was in farther, while inching our way into the frigid water!  Just as Sharon was proudly announcing that she was in deeper and thus winning, I suddenly went under, quickly popping back up and announcing that I had won!  Of course a few seconds later, she too was in all the way!  We floated blissfully around while Wes’ mom sat at the water’s edge and Tom snorkeled.

rachelle siegrist cold
OH . . .  it’s SOOOOOO cold!!!

Finally when we were both started shaking uncontrollably, we decided it time to get out and warm up in the sun for awhile.  Later a picnic supper was enjoyed as well as another delightful walk in the woods, and as we returned home that night, decided it had indeed been a most delightful day!

wes and rachelle siegrist with John Agnew
Wes, me, Pat and John

Thursday we met up with artist friend John Agnew and his wife Pat at the Abrams Creek Trailhead.  It was another lovely day as we started our hike and quickly found ourselves hiking up some pretty steep inclines, making our way up and over a couple of high sections before descending back down to the creek’s edge.  Of course it was great fun stopping at each stream crossing to look for salamanders and since we were with John, a salamander hunter extraordinaire, we met with great success, as it seemed each rock he gently lifted, revealed another adorable resident below!

John searches for salamanders, Wes, John and Pat taking a break, and a wee worm snake

I don’t think we have ever seen such a splendid display of the delicate light pink blossoms of the Mountain Laurels, as there were along that trail and lining the banks of the creek!  It was spectacular to say the least, and at times the breeze caught their soft scent filling the air and delighting our noses!

rachelle siegrists photo of Mountain Laurel Bloom
A stunning Mountain Laurel blossom

It seemed every curve in the trail brought more stunning pink blossoms, making it feel as if we were walking through a natural botanical garden!  It had gotten quite warm during the day, making it perfect for a wade in the water, which I did several times over!

Of course salamanders weren’t the only treasured finds of the day, as we also found several centipedes and even a worm snake which was adorable! Returning to the trailhead, we realized the day had passed and it was now evening as we said our goodbye! More wonderful memories made!

yellow lab painting, yellow Labrador Retriever painting, dog commission by rachelle siegrist

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


4 thoughts on “Outdoor Fun With Family and Friends!

  1. Tom Carlsen

    Just returned from a quick trip to Townsend – saw the mountain laurel in full bloom. Had
    a bit of rain, so the rivers were rushing and waterfalls cascading. Lunch with Fred and
    Barb at Steak and Eggs. Fred looks great 28 pounds lighter. Hope to see you in August.

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