I went into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a long, long day. It was so long that it may take two blog entries to explain it all.
Hannah E., Americorps intern for Friends of the Smokies, and I scouted the hike I’m going to lead for them on Tuesday Dec. 6. We parked at Mingus Mill and searched for a slave cemetery just up from the parking lot. It only has six mounted graves with stumps and no identification.
We then walked up Mingus Creek Trail and crossed Mingus Creek several times. This trail has wonderful spring flowers. There were still a few blue asters around – late bloomers.
Without the distraction of flowers, we could see lots of fungus. The trail had obviously been a road.
At about 1.2 miles, we turned off Mingus Creek Trail on an unmaintained trail, also an old road. After walking another 0.8 mile and crisscrossing a couple of more creeks, we saw the Cemetery sign.
This is the old Mingus family cemetery, also with stumps – see the photo above. Looking at this sad, weedy cemetery, I don’t think that there are any family reunions at this cemetery.
But enough about dead people.
When we got back to Oconaluftee Visitor Center, there was a group of children visiting the park as part of Parks as Classrooms. Here, the kids were having lunch between activities. This program brings teachers and children, mostly from local schools, to the Smokies. Many local kids have never been to the Smokies. I have a feeling that some of their teachers had not either.