TN: Great Smoky Mountains National Park


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.]

The Hike to Sunset Rock in Lookout Mountain, TN

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Last spring I went on a weekend trip with a new friend to hike. We hiked 14 miles across the Tennessee border into Georgia and back out again on the Bluff and Gum Spring Trails before ending up, exhausted, at Sunset Rock, where we had a grand finale of an overlook after over an hour of great views as we walked along the Bluff trail, which follows the base of bluffs on Lookout Mountain. (That’s me below enjoying the view before begging water off other hikers).

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After the hike, we grabbed dinner in Chattanooga, then headed back up to Falls Creek Falls, where we pitched our tent (lousy camping FYI). The next day we did some easy hiking to see the beautiful waterfalls in the park, then headed up to Cookeville (pronounced Coke-ville) for a Mothers Day brunch at a great New Orleans style restaurant.

 

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While I’m always down for weekend adventures, this may have been one of my most spontaneous trips ever. I’d been using Bumble’s BFF feature to meet new friends. I met up at Bar Taco in Nashville on a Thursday to get drinks with a woman I’d been chatting to on the app. While eating, we realized we both had been looking for folks to go camping with us that weekend. So, that Friday, we met up to adventure together. I love those moments when you connect with someone and instantly make adventure plans. It was a great weekend. My toenails are still healing today, almost a year later, from the damage my too-small boots did, but it was worth the pain!
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[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more photos of Tennessee.]

MD: Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

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Despite being so small, the shape of Maryland means a central-dweller like myself didn’t find myself very often west of DC or on the Eastern Shore. Maryland’s Eastern shore is only accessible to most of Maryland by a trip across the incredible Bay Bridge across the Cheseapeake Bay. One weekend in the summer, Aleksi and I took the 2+ hour drive to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, MD. It’s been called the “Everglades of the North.”

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I’ll admit I’d never even heard of this place until I was doing some digging on the internet to find somewhere for Aleksi and I to go enjoy some nature. It was pretty much empty even on a weekend. We took a lovely (though mosquito fraught….with a name like Blackwater, are you really surprised?) stroll through the evergreen forest. The forest floor was covered in a beautiful layer of evergreen needles, and there were amazing mushrooms tucked away every few feet.

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After that, we took the Wildlife Drive, a scenic mile or so road that cuts through marshes and wetlands teeming with life. Blackwater is known for it’s large Bald Eagle population, who use the Refuge for mating every year. Unfortunately, that area was closed off for hatching season, but we did see some cranes, herons, osprey, a variety of beautiful little birds, and a few water snakes slithering through the creeks. Alas, we did not see even one of Blackwater’s famous Delmarva Peninsula Fox Squirrel.

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The drive there is mostly through beautiful coastal farmland, and despite the bugs, I would highly recommend Blackwater to anyone living or visiting the area.

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[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more pictures of Maryland.]

ÍS: Hiking up to Glymur

Glymur, Iceland

I made a third trip to Glymur (incidentally the place I shot my first roll of film, starting this whole blog adventure in earnest) in April while my boyfriend was visiting for a few weeks. We rented a car with two friends. The weather on the way there was spectacular, if a little windy, but unfortunately when we got to the canyon, we were faced with strong wind and icy rain almost the entire hike. The river was too flooded to cross on the wire (in the summer there’s a footbridge, but in the winter only a guiding wire that you can shimmy across if you’re brave); in fact, some friends had tried to get across the flooded river on the wire the day before and ended up getting soaked and stuck and having to call Search and Rescue (we didn’t hear about this until after we made our trek). My camera lens got foggy and wet at the top, but it makes for some fun lens effects.Glymur, Iceland
Glymur is the second tallest waterfall in Iceland. The river Botnsá flows from the lake Hvalvatn along a flat area before plunging 196 meters down the cliff. The word glymur means crash/rumble in Icelandic and refers to the enormous sound of the rushing falls. Glymur, Iceland

Glymur, Iceland

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Glymur, Iceland

Glymur, Iceland

000007land [35mm film taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more pictures of Glymur in Iceland]

Scotland: Bennachie, Aberdeenshire

Aberdeenshire, Scotland On my last full day in Aberdeen back in February, my boyfriend and I went for a nice walk to and hike up one of the peaks in the Bennachie range of hills in Aberdeenshire. It was a beautiful sunny day, and from the top there was a spectacular view with a big, bright rainbow.

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Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Aberdeenshire, Scotland   [35mm taken with my 1999 Olympus 105G Superzoom in February 2015.Click here for more pictures of Scotland. Oh and don’t forget to like the blog on facebook!]