Whirlwind Trip to Great Smokies

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jamesrobertsmith
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Whirlwind Trip to Great Smokies

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:42 pm

My wife and I found ourselves in a weird situation of having some time on our hands and nowhere to go. Therefor we agreed on a one-day trip to Cataloochee in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Strictly an auto tour and some light strolling. Mainly we wanted to see the elk. We saw about 70 of them. Roughly half of the Park's herd of 150 animals.


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Not a fantastic rack, but the biggest I've seen on any Smoky Mountain bull.


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My wife took this one of me at a weird sycamore behind the schoolhouse in Cataloochee.

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edfrank
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Re: Whirlwind Trip to Great Smokies

Post by edfrank » Tue Nov 01, 2011 7:34 pm

JRS,

Neat stuff. I am glad you posted about the trip.

Ed
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Rand
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Re: Whirlwind Trip to Great Smokies

Post by Rand » Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:40 pm

The rut still going on? The last time I was there during the fall they had park rangers out to supervise the tourists and keep them away from the grumpy bulls in the evenings. Didn't see any sparing but they were bugling at each other. I got a good rise out of the park ranger by offering to walk out there with two of his sample antler held over my head.

I guess that's as amusing as making bomb jokes to the TSA guys at the airport.

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ElijahW
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Re: Whirlwind Trip to Great Smokies

Post by ElijahW » Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:05 pm

James,

This is one of my favorite places. Thanks for the pictures. Here's some of my own from Spring 2010.
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Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: Whirlwind Trip to Great Smokies

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:05 am

The rut was over. The largest males were in a field over at the Palmer House. There was still one big bull hanging out with the cows, but mainly just some spikes were there pretending they were tough. One spike kept trying to mount one of the cows but she was having none of that.


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The three big bulls across the road from the Palmer House.


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First thing we saw were huge flocks of wild turkey. One ranger told us that she saw a coyote sneak up and grab one this week. The first time she'd seen one do that.

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: Whirlwind Trip to Great Smokies

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:07 am

lucager1483 wrote:James,

This is one of my favorite places. Thanks for the pictures. Here's some of my own from Spring 2010.

Elijah
Great photos. I never get tired of Cataloochee.Of course it's hard to go there when you recall what great stands of hemlocks were there just a few years ago. I hauled my little travel trailer to the campground there when I finally located the Sag Branch Poplar after three previous tries. My wife wants to go back there with the trailer. I think the campground is closing for the season soon. But next Spring, maybe.

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ElijahW
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Re: Whirlwind Trip to Great Smokies

Post by ElijahW » Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:20 am

James,

I'll second that on the hemlocks. Cataloochee was my first up-close experience with the HWA damage, and it made quite an impression on me. So many grand trees, all dead or dying. But the giant hardwoods and white pines almost made up for it. I look forward to returning sometime soon.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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Rand
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Re: Whirlwind Trip to Great Smokies

Post by Rand » Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:18 am

Alas, Cataloochee....
All the dead grey hemlocks in October 2007
All the dead grey hemlocks in October 2007
A couple of closeups of the central area of the above image
cat-3.jpg
cat-4.jpg

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: Whirlwind Trip to Great Smokies

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:40 pm

It was a gorgeous place. When I first heard about hwa I rushed up to Cataloochee to see the groves there before they were gone. I saw them in their glory, before the infestations had reached them. On one recent trip I hiked through a back country campground and wondered what the Park Service was going to do with those sites when the hemlocks start to get shaky. It'll be very unsafe to camp anywhere in that area if they don't start taking down those trees or if Nature doesn't knock them over when people aren't around (a rare thing even in the back country of the Smokies).

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