Hiking from the Hostel

Rose and dog Sadie left in the morning for a Christmas visit with her family. By late afternoon we were in hostel mode. Son John $pencer bunked in with grandson David to give his room to Bob, a hiking friend of long standing. We had a leisurely breakfast before driving the two to Cataloochee to hike. Even though it was not prime grazing time, we saw a herd of elk resting in the valley.

I zoomed in to get this. The elk were across a large meadow.

The fellows let me take their picture after they strapped on their backpacks. They planned to hike back to a peak we can see from our living room window. It isn’t right in our back yard, but it is pretty close.

Bob and John ready to hike for a couple of days

Cataloochee Elk

Our excursion for the day with Maria and Franz was to look for elk in the Smoky Mountain National Park. The entrance to the park is just a short distance from our house, and the road is the most dramatically mountainous road in the area. It’s a lane and a half wide, twisting and turning over the mountain. On the way to Cataloochee Valley, we stopped at a turn in the road where there is a short climb to a viewing area. My best autumnal photo was taken as we were leaving that view.

110617 Franz John Maria leaving overlook near Cataloochee.jpg

A front shot is included to show the faces.

110617 Franz Maria John going to Cataloochee.jpg

I would have been satisfied with spotting the elk at a distance. We were there in the middle of the day, not at prime time of dawn or dusk. We took some photos of part of the herd by zooming in.

110617 Cataloochee elk grazing.jpg

There were numerous signs warning people to stay at least 150 feet from the animals and not to enter the meadow if they were there. After turning around, we found elk wading into the stream right beside the road. We were the first car with a ring-side seat. What a view!

110617 Cataloochee elk in stream.jpg

One animal crossed the road, and I thought that was very special.

110617 Cataloochee elk on road.jpg

In a minute or so it passed right by my window. I could have sworn she was talking wordlessly and boasting that she had the law on her side, and I wasn’t allowed to get out of the car. I had news for her. I didn’t want to get in her path!

110617 Cataloochee elk passed by car window.jpg

This was the documentation of our day, but the best part was unlimited talk from our morning walk to bed time. We never ran out of subjects to explore together. I admire Maria and Franz for not flagging, despite talking in English all day long.