Adventure unveils nature’s beauty



Photos:


Columnist Doug Skinner and a hiking partner got drinking water from this cascade at a campsite in the Smoky Mountains National Park. PHOTO BY DOUG SKINNER


A full bloom mountain laurel on Anthony Creek Trail in the Smoky Mountains National Park. PHOTO BY DOUG SKINNER


Campsite 37 in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park resides on a beautiful and civilized trail that follows Big Creek, featuring picturesque swimming holes and trout-laden pools.

For the past three years, I have reserved a spot there, only to have the campsite shut down because of aggressive bear activity. The day before leaving for the trip this June, I got a text that Campsite 37 was closed, effective immediately, not due to bears, but a tornado that ripped through the area the night before. All campsites and trails in the area were closed due to the tornado’s extreme damage.

A ranger suggested taking Anthony Creek Trail with the hope of finding mountain laurel in bloom at Spence Field, a highland meadow traversed by the Appalachian Trail. Our hike into Campsite 9 for two nights would be three miles, where we would set up camp followed the next day by three miles to Spence Field.

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