...with a husband and 5 sons, I am truly outnumbered....stories and thoughts on life from a mom in a houseful of little men!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Andrews Bald and Clingmans Dome: day 26

Today was a day we were utterly saturated with natural beauty.  Driving down narrow, winding roads canopied by trees in colors of the rainbow, leaves cascading down in front and all around us, it felt like we were in a postcard.  Perhaps the autumn version of a snowglobe would be a more accurate description, if there was such a thing.  We'll call it a leafglobe.

The color was astounding. 
Rivers ran cool and crystal clear as we drove through the wonderland that is The Great Smoky Mountain National Park up to Clingmans Dome.  As we gained elevation, the trees became leafless.  They had already had their turn to shine, and their garments had become a forest floor carpeting.  More Firs appeared, the temperature dropped, and we suddenly felt a whole lot more at home.
The plan was to hike Andrews Bald.  We became parents of a 12-year-old again today, and this young man usually requests some sort of adventure for his celebration.  He aches for our beloved mountain hiking, as we all do, so we thought this may be a bit of a cure.  I must say, it delivered.

We walked through rocky, wooded terrain for 1.7 miles,
 when suddenly,

we stepped out into grandeur, the wide-open space that we know and love so well.  Sure it wasn't exactly the same.  But there was a certain familiarity in the quality and temperature of air at 5900 ft. which felt like home to us.  Breezes wafted and blew.  The sun warmed the soft grasses where we reclined for our afternoon meal.
We ate and relaxed, and told fun stories.
My how I love these people I'm so blessed to call my family.  There was just nowhere I would rather have been than right there, right then, with those people.  The Creator gifted us with Andrews Bald today.

After a long and leisurely while, we packed it up to head the 1.7 miles back.
There was one more hike we wanted to get in today, before they close Clingmans Road for the winter, and that was its namesake, Clingmans Dome.
This one, being paved and all, seemed quite a bit more tame than what we're used to.  However, after nearly four miles already under our belts, the steep incline of this one had us worn out.  Admittedly, I didn't really know what we were getting ourselves into once we got up there.  When I realized we were going to go up a concrete fibonacci spiral,
Clingmans sort of freaked me out. 
But I tell you, the spectacular, 360-degree view of the Smokies and beyond was totally worth it.  I have only one, very non-impressive picture of part of the southern view.  I took it because we could see Andrews Bald in between the Firs.
It's always frustrating to experience something and then not be able to explain it properly.  Sometimes the awe is in the span and the depth and the scale of things.

In any case, it was an amazing day to be thankful for, as we celebrated 12 years of an amazing boy.  What a gift all around.

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