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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

Follow us on Facebook!

Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


Fun In The Woods With Wes’ Parents

Walking in the Woods!!!

by Rachelle Siegrist

cades cove cabins wes siegrist
Wes and his parents by the Lawson Barn in Cades Cove

Wes’ parents arrived at our home here in the Smokies this past Wednesday and we have been on the go ever since!  We enjoyed a picnic in Cades Cove and riding around the loop road, while counting turkey and deer the first evening.  It was a beautiful one too, complete with a gorgeous sunset over the mountains!

turkey in cades cove
A couple of resident turkey in the cove

No matter how many times we visit Cades Cove, it’s always a joy and inspiring as an artist, as we love painting the historic barns and home places located there, as well as the numerous gorgeous vistas, scenes and resident wildlife!

cades cove barn
The Lawson Barn in Cades Cove

The next day we headed over to Roaring Fork near Gatlinburg, but recent high winds in our area combined with the wildfires last year, had caused numerous trees to fall, therefore temporarily closing the loop drive.  So after visiting one accessible log cabin and barn, we decided to hike the Gatlinburg Trail.  Following alongside the river, it’s always a pleasant relaxing walk, and was gorgeous, dressed in lush green foliage.

hiking the gatlinburg trail
Wes’ parents and me on one of the bridges

Numerous Mountain Laurel were blooming showcasing their delicate light pink flowers dotted throughout the woods, adding even more beauty!

gatlinburg trail
Jeanie and George by one of the Mountain Laurel

Of course if there’s water around and it’s not frozen I usually get in . . . most of the time!  I just couldn’t resist the stunningly clear water, and after my legs went numb, it didn’t feel too bad . . . Ha Ha!  Sadly I couldn’t convince any of the others to play in the water with me though.

rachelle siegrist gatlinburg trail
Brrrrrr . . .  so refreshing!!!

Yesterday was spent at the 27th Wilderness Wildlife Week event held in Pigeon Forge.  What a fun and interesting day it was as we attended several different lectures and presentations, including a hammered dulcimer concert, as well as an old fashioned harp note singing!  We really enjoyed “The People of Cades Cove” presentation and were thrilled to hear stories about life in the cove from about a dozen people who were actually born inside the cove! I learned that “When you can step on your head, it’s 12 noon”, in other words being able to step on the shadow of your head.  Another person told about living in the cove after it became a National Park, that it was like the goldfish bowl effect, as people were always watching them and asking questions, mostly kind of ridiculous ones.  One tourist asked the cove resident if he realized there was a deer pasturing with his cattle, to which his father quickly replied, “Why yes I do . . . I milk her along with the cows!” (They had a Jersey Cow among their Herefords) I found this a brilliant answer to a silly question!  Another highlight was the presentation “What is it?” where the audience was shown objects found in the cove and we were to guess what they were, and I was thrilled to have guessed one correctly!  I also learned of a few more awesome places to camp, kayak and hike!  Needless to say, we came away more knowledgable in so many ways!


What a better way to cook a gourmet Mother’s Day lunch than over an open fire, so we did just that, and it was delicious! I want to wish all of you special Moms out there a very Happy Mothers Day, especially to my own amazing Mom who has loved, prayed for and taken care of our family in tremendous ways throughout the years, and to my special Mother-n-law Jeanie!

rachelle sirgrist and parents.jpg
Happy Mother’s Day to my most precious Mom, whom I love SO very much!!!

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

I finished my latest dog commission this past week featuring a mule seat full of joy and love!!  I had so much fun painting this adorable bundle of fur and told their mommy I would love to sit on that seat and hold them all in my lap! You can’t help but smile when looking at this fun painting!

dog painting commission by rachelle siegrist.jpg
My “A Mule Full!”

Wes finished his landscape painting of the John Oliver cabin in Cades Cove this past week, as viewed from a seldom seen angle.  We never tire of seeing, hiking to and painting these great historical beauties and national treasures!

“A Cabin in the Woods” by Wes

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

~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

Follow us on Facebook!

Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Magical Meadows, Rocket Stove and Eggs!

Hiking Schoolhouse Gap to White Oak Sinks!

by Rachelle Siegrist

tall phlox in smokies.jpg

It’s that time of year again, so this past Wednesday, we headed up Schoolhouse Gap Trail to see if the Tall Phlox were blooming. It was a beautiful morning, as occasional clouds passed overhead and the sound of springtime birdsong and gentle breezes filled the air!  As we started our descent into the woodland meadow area, clusters of the delicate lavender flowers started appearing, proving our timing was perfect!  Soon we found ourselves surrounded by a sea of lavender and their soft sweet fragrance filled the air! We found the perfect lunch spot, a big log with plenty of room for the four of us, and we were delighted to have this magical meadow all to ourselves!

A Swallowtail enjoys the Tall Phlox, Shooting Stars and Squaw Root

After lunch, we decided to hike up to a sinkhole where Virginia Bluebells bloom each year.  It’s tricky knowing exactly when they’re blooming, so we weren’t sure what to expect, but were thrilled to find that they were indeed at peak, and absolutely stunning! It was decided that it was a wonderfully peaceful place to just sit awhile, enjoying the beauty and quiet!

white oak sinks trailSoon it was time to start hiking back, and while winding our way through the woods, we heard what sounded like thumping on a large hollow log, growing in intensity and tempo as it went along.  Having an odd sound, it also seemed too slow for a woodpecker, so at first we thought perhaps it was a Ruffed Grouse. But after researching online, we concluded it was most likely a Pileated Woodpecker, since Grouse do the beating with their wings while standing on a log. However, I also discovered that it sounded somewhat like the tapping on a hollow tree made by Sasquatch!  Being a huge fan of Bigfoot, I decided to go with that theory in the end, thinking perhaps he was watching us from up on the surrounding hillside somewhere and was tapping out a “Howdy!” to me!  We strolled back down the path, and just before reaching the trailhead, we stopped for a short wade in the river, finding it most refreshing and a great way to end the hike!

rachelle siegrist hiking school house gap trail
Obviously Tom didn’t get the red shirt memo!

Yesterday was the perfect day for hunting Easter eggs with our little friend Chance, and so he, along with his grandparents and several others, spent time in our front gardens hiding and hunting the multi-colored eggs. Of course it all started with the guys hiding the eggs, while us girls kept him entertained with bubbles, a favorite pastime of his!

rachelle siegrist yard.jpg
Always fun playing with bubbles!

Soon the three dozen or so eggs were carefully tucked in secret hiding places and the hunt began!  Chance was having a ball locating the eggs and putting them in his red bucket, but stopped several times to watch the Swallowtail Butterflies that kept flitting above, occasionally landing to drink nectar from the abundant Azalea blossoms!  Each time he would sweetly say “Hi butterfly“, then proceed with his search for eggs.

siegrists gardens.jpg
Looking for more eggs!

Upon finding them all, we hid them for him again, so he could enjoy the experience all over again.  Having worked up an appetite, our group headed to Pizza Hut for a tasty supper and ended the fun evening relaxing on the back porch while enjoying Sharon’s yummy chocolate cake!

wes siegrist yard.jpg
Found another one!

Wes recently discovered rocket stoves in a magazine and after doing some online research, built us one, for free no less!  Upon using it the first time, we were totally amazed, so he built another one right next to it the very next day!  Using small amounts of sticks collected from the woods, it concentrates the heat in one area, thus cooking food efficiently and for free!  A day or so later, he built a table nearby to set things on, so our outdoor kitchen is now complete and works great!

wes siegrists rocket stove
The initial rocket stove in action

Celebrate Easter . . . For He is risen!

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

Wes painted two landscape paintings this past week featuring gorgeous settings from our beloved nearby Smoky Mountain National Park.  Just a few minutes drive from our home, we love hiking in this area, and of course painting it for you to cherish and enjoy!

landscape smokies painting by_Wes_Siegrist
Wes’ “Still Waters”
lanscape waterfall painting by_Wes_Siegrist
Wes’ “Cascade Colors”

I have almost finished one of my current commissions which I will share with you soon, and started this commission “A Mule Full” featuring four precious little doggies belonging to dear collector friends!  As you can imagine, I’m having a ball painting this one!

dog commission in progress
My latest dog commission in progress

commission a painting by wes siegrist, landscape painting of the virgin islands

~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

Follow us on Facebook!

Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle