Rather than fly or drive straight to Maryland for this past Christmas (2016), Aleksi and I decided to rent a car and make a road trip out of it. We took two days to get to Maryland. On the first day, we stopped to hike in the Great Smoky Mountains outside Gatlinburg, TN and spent the night in Johnson City. Our day two stop was one of my childhood favorites: the Natural Bridge in Virginia. After a few days in Maryland enjoying family and friends, we headed down to Asheville, NC, where we spent a few lovely days before driving back up to Nashville via Nantahala National Forest and Chattanooga.
The area we hiked in the Smokies was hit by the severe forest fires that affected the region in November 2016. During the first half of the hike, the forest smelled faintly of smoke and had little to no underbrush growing. Not many trees had been felled by the fire, but many trunks were blackened at the bottoms. Once we got higher up, there was a clear line where the fire had not gone, and it was shocking to see the lush undergrowth that should have extended all the way down the mountain. It certainly made for an interesting hike, although it was sad to think of those who had been killed or displaced by the fires.
[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. For more pictures of Tennessee, click here.]