I first visited the GSMNP back in the March 2000. We car camped at Smokemont and did the more popular trails in the Smokies: Alum Cave trail and the Chimney Tops trail. I went back in June 2001 with some of my best friends. We camped at Balsam Mountain and did some of the AT to Charlies Bunion. In November 2006 I visited the Gatlinburg, TN side of the park for the first time. We camped at Elkmont and hiked the Ramsey Cascades trail.
Then last year, I took a trip with my girlfriends to the Nantahala Gorge. We had such an awesome time that I vowed to take my husband on some hikes. Chip and I have traveled to some wonderful places together but have yet to go on a camping trip together.
Our prep hike was a 13-mile day hike in Point Reyes National Seashore back in April. We hiked up the Mt. Wittenberg trail to the Sky and Woodward Valley trails, to the Coast trail, then back to the car via the Bear Valley trail.
We saw some beautiful views on this hike. Descending from Mt. Wittenberg on the Sky trail, there were heavenly views of the Pacific Ocean and Point Reyes.
The first few miles of the Woodward Valley trail were through a lush forest speckled with ferns. As we walked through this peaceful valley, we began to see some of the damaging results of the 1995 Vision Fire.
Some photos along the Coast trail looking over Sculptured Beach. I really regret not heading down to explore the beach. We decided not to hike down to the beach because we were less than halfway through the 13-mile hike, and our hips were already getting a little sore. I've seen photos of the tidal pools and wildlife, and I really hate that we missed it!
After about 9 miles, we finally made it to Arch Rock. We sat here for a long time just feeling the breeze, listening to the waves break on the rocks, and taking in the gorgeous views of the ocean.