Cades Cove Loop Road Closed… But for How Long?

A deer jam occurs when motorists on the Cades Cove Loop road stop in the middle of the road instead of using one of the numerous pull off areas available.

I have noticed that over the past few days one of the keywords that is still driving people to this blog is Cades Cove.  Living in East Tennessee, I am very fortunate to live so close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Cades Cove, a very popular spot in the Smokys, was slated to have the loop road resurfaced from March 1 – May 21, 2010.  Trails affected by this closure are Abrams Falls, Cooper Road, Gregory Bald, Gregory Ridge, Hannah Mountain, Indian Grave, and Rabbit Creek trails. The campground, the campground store, the picnic area, and the horseback riding stables will remain open, though bicycle rentals will not be available. (The store and stables don’t open until April 1st.) The last time Cades Cove Loop road was repaved was 1978… over 30 years ago.  It is in bad need of repair and truthfully needs to be wider and marked better for pull over spots. You can read more about the scheduled work at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/cades-cove-road-improvement.htm.

This work was to be completed under a Highway Trust Fund.  Today was supposed to be the first day the road was completely closed to traffic so workers could being work on it.  However, there is a funding shortfall as a result of KY Senator Jim Bunning who blocked legislation last week that included the Highway Trust Fund.  Thus, there was an ordered furlough today of over 2,000 federal employees… including the federal inspectors that are overseeing the Cades Cove Loop repaving. No inspectors… no work can be done. So while today was supposed to be the first full day of work on the Cades Cove Loop road, the work has stopped and the road remains closed.  I just gotta wonder how long this funding issue will keep the road closed.  Hopefully we don’t have another Road to Nowhere brewing. Cades Cove is just too popular to be left closed.  In the meantime, enjoy this nice picture of a deer and the traffic that goes along with it.

EDIT: The bill passed the next day and work resumed on March 3. Hopefully the work can still be completed by May 21, 2010 if not sooner.

A deer jam occurs when motorists on the Cades Cove Loop road stop in the middle of the road instead of using one of the numerous pull off areas available.
A deer jam occurs when motorists on the Cades Cove Loop road stop in the middle of the road instead of using one of the numerous pull off areas available.

Fundamentals of Digital Photography Final Four

While I could probably start this and most future posts with “I know its been a while since I last posted”, I’ll try to refrain or find some other creative way to say that. I suppose I could write about the Nature and Travel Field trip to the Knoxville Zoo or the Smokemont Loop/Bradley Fork trail hike I did this weekend. For the final class of Fundamentals of Digital Photography, we have to select four of our best images shot between the start and end of the class. It wasn’t too hard to pick the four. I had a lot to choose from, but I tried to choose photos that others probably don’t have

Middle Prong of the Little River

This first image is of the Middle Prong of the Little River. To get there, you take the road to Tremont and continue past Tremont. This is shot near the end. I took this shot on the first Nature and Travel field trip.

Night Time Cityscape of Knoxville, TN

This shot was part of our second shooting assignment for the class. Since the assignments aren’t mandatory and I already knew the techniques he wanted us to learn in the assignments, I only selected the assignments that might be fun to do. I didn’t turn this one in, so it should be new to him and the class. For this shot, I was able to get access to the roof of where I work and take several pictures of downtown Knoxville at night.

China, Snow Leopard at the Knoxville Zoo

I took this shot during the second Nature and Travel field trip to the Knoxville Zoo. I selected it because its falls into the category of actually being able to remove the fence from the picture. Most of the animals were close to the fence, so it was impossible to eliminate the fence. The snow leopard was perched up on her platform which was just far enough so that the fence could be eliminated.

Mingo Falls

The forth picture was the most difficult to select. I had lots to choose from by they were either too similar to the first picture or also shot at the Knoxville Zoo. I wanted something different for my fourth shot. Since I was going to be in the park on Saturday, I took my camera and was determined to get something. Since we finished the hike pretty quickly, we had all sorts of time. I knew Mingus Mill was nearby, so I said lets go check it out. It was neat, but not the best time of day to photograph it, plus there were just too many people that would walk into the shot. The park employee that was there started talking to us. Since we were in the area, he told us we might want to check out Mingo Falls. I had heard of it, but didn’t where it was. Luckily he gave us directions. To get to it, take Newfound Gap Road toward Cherokee, NC. You’ll pass the Blue Ridge Parkway. Turn left on the next road past the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’ll come to a T intersection. Turn left and follow the road for about 4.5 miles. Look for a small sign that says Mingo Falls Next Right. Park there and climb about 150 stairs and hike a little less than half a mile and you’re there.

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Backpacking in Big South Fork One Day… Nature and Travel Field Trip #1 the Next

This past weekend was a really busy one, but fun filled. It started on Saturday by meeting up with Bryan and Meredith, Justin S, Derek, Dale, and Ann for some backpacking in Big South Fork. They all go to Brentwood Hills CoC. It was kind of an interesting itinerary. Dale’s truck was left over near Bandy Creek Campground. We meet up at Leatherwood Ford. The plan was to camp out just below the Angel Falls Overlook, but first do a day hike from Leatherwood Ford to Bandy Creek, stopping by Angel Falls. The length of the Day Hike was right around 10.5 miles. I didn’t take my GPS this time, so about the only thing I really have to go on is estimating by pace and time. Our campsite was two miles in on the trail. We took a couple of tents to claim our spot. We would carry the rest of our gear when we finished the day hike and returned back to Leatherwood Food. It got cold and started to very lightly rain… and I had left my rain jacket in the car, so I was pretty miserable during the day hike and anxious to get back to the car. After getting our gear, we proceeded to hike back to camp. It is a really flat trail, so that helps when carrying a 31 lb pack after hiking 10.5 miles. After we setup, we started cooking dinner. Shortly after dinner, it started raining again. I opted to take shelter in my tent. I usually have trouble falling asleep when I’m out camping, but this time, I was out pretty quickly. I’m sure I was probably the first one out.

My plan was to leave around 8:00 in the morning since I needed to get ready for the Nature and Travel Photography Field trip later in the afternoon. Derek and Ann also had to go back to Nashville and be there in time for a Habitat for Humanity Dedication for a house their group had worked on. When I saw Derek walking around, I went down to see when they had planned on leaving… if soon I’d hike out with them, if not, I’d just hike out alone. Came to find out he had gotten sick. We originally had planned to have a church service, but in Derek’s condition, it was decided that the best thing was to get him back to the car. I helped him pack up his stuff and then went to check on Ann. She had just gotten up and was starting to pack up. However, she really didn’t have a backpack that was big enough for her stuff. On the way in Dale had helped her carry her stuff (I assume), but since Dale wasn’t camping, he left after dinner. What we decided to do was I’d hike out with Derek and carry some of Ann’s stuff and Bryan would hike out with Ann and carry some of Ann and Derek’s stuff. Then Bryan would go back to camp and hike out with Meredith and Justin later.

So that was a long story, with no pictures… but the moral of it is, it helps to have the right gear, whether it be a rain jacket or a large backpack.

Ok we now for the part of this entry that doesn’t require much writing. A few of us meet up at UT before and drove to Townsend. We then meet up with everyone else at the parking lot just before you get to the Y. As part of the field trip, we only went to two places. The first was Middle Prong on the road past Treemont. The second place was one of the first parking areas you come to after you pass the road to Treemont on the way to Cades Cove. Through work, I have access to a couple of pieces of equipment that I probably won’t ever buy. One is a Canon 40D that has been converted to Infrared and the other is a 600mm f4L lens.

http://gallery2.justinacuff.net/v/photography_certificate/nature_and_travel_photography/field_trip_1/

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Random Trip to Foothills Parkway, Cades Cove, and The Sinks

You may remember that a couple of my previous posts had pictures, but now they are gone. This is because I just wasn’t happy with the new built in WordPress Image Gallery. So instead I have removed them and placed a link to their appropriate album in my Gallery, as does that link. I might come back to it later, but there are some things that desperately need to be fixed before I do. Anyways, now on with the post.

This past weekend, I had some free time on Saturday morning, so I decided I was going to start it off real early and make some photographs just for the fun of it. It had rained the night before and wasn’t supposed to rain on Saturday, which means the day will be pretty clear. My first destination was the Miller’s Cove Overlook on Foothills Parkway West (the road up to Look Rock). Miller’s Cove is the first overlook you come to, so it really isn’t that far of a drive from Knoxville. I got there around 5:30 and just kind of waited. About 10 minutes before sunrise, a group of about 8 people on a workshop showed up as well. One of the first shots I got before they showed up, happens to be one of my more favorite shots from all day. It may be a dark picture, but that’s part of what I like about it. The next picture is one of the better sunrise shots. There really wasn’t a whole lot of red in the sky that morning, so I really had to push it to get this picture.
Miller's Cove before Sunrise
Miller's Cove Sunrise

After that, I headed into Cades Cove. Cades Cove is one of those place that I usually prefer to go to either really early in the day or really late at night. If you go outside of those times, you are probably going to be stuck in a traffic jam that rivals some of the worst traffic jams in Knoxville. The cause of these traffic jams are often stupidity with a side of selfishness. Cades Cove is an 11 mile loop that once you get on, is difficult to get off. If people would just follow the rules, it wouldn’t be so bad. The main rule is, don’t stop in the middle of the road, use pull-offs. There are lots of pull offs to accommodate people, but they seldom use them. Instead they stop in the middle of the road and it is usually to take a picture of a deer. Deer are really abundant in Cades Cove, so you can just imagine how this is. The two things that really get me is people who stop in the middle of the road when there is a pull-off 10 feet in front of them and those that stop in the middle of the road and use the pull-off to take their picture. Anyways, enough with my Cades Cove rant. I got there just before 8:00 and wanted to get my pictures in while the light was still good. They were all typical shots that I’m happy with, but I’ll get better shots on a different day.

This next image is definitely a place I will go back to in the fall. I’m happy with the shot as it is, but I’m certain it will look 20 times better with the fall colors. It’s also an area of the park that really doesn’t get busy like Cades Cove does. To get here, you turn down the road that heads to Tremont.
Little River

Meigs FallsThe last picture in this post is Meigs Falls. Its almost kind of sad how many times I’ve past this and never noticed it. It on Little River Road between the Townsend Y and Elkmont. After going to Tremont, I decided that I would have enough time to go to the Sinks. We had scheduled a band practice for later that day, so I wanted to get home in enough time to load up the musical gear and clean up beforehand. On my way to the sinks, I saw this waterfall and even though the light wasn’t the best, I decided to photograph it anyways. I later looked it up and found out it is called Meigs Falls. It’s so far off to the road, it is kind of easy to miss (especially when you are paying attention to the curves in the road). I have a Nature and Travel Field trip on Sunday afternoon, and we are probably going to stop here.

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