Same Trails, Different Group

Hannah and Isa
Hannah and Isa

I’m with Family Nature Summits, a national family nature camp, with Lenny, and our granddaughters, Hannah and Isa. Hannah has been going to FNS for six years but this is Isa’s first experience.

FNS goes to a different location every year. This year, it’s in Western North Carolina at Lake Junaluska. I’m on the hiking staff, so I have an opportunity to show off my home park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

FNS12RhodiesAYesterday, I took a group of adult hikers from all over the country on the Lakeshore Trail Loop, informally called the Road to Nowhere.

So much history on this trail and so many rhododendrons in bloom.

I’ve led this hike several times for Friends of the Smokies and Carolina Mountain Club. But how do I relate this history to folks who aren’t familiar with the Smokies?

I explained about Fontana Dam, TVA, and NC 288, the road that was flooded….

FNS group at the tunnel
FNS group at the tunnel

The group was impressed with the tunnel since it was something the hikers could relate to. The whole controversy was big to us living in the Southern Appalachians but never made a blip in their lives.

We weren’t on the trail for 30 minutes when we saw a mama bear and three bear cubs. The cubs ran up a tree while the mama waited in the bushes. What a sighting. We watched in amazement as the cubs climbed higher and higher. Some tried to take pictures but the photos probably came out as pencil points. I got a lot of brownie points for that sighting but nothing topped this the rest of the day.

Big Poplars
Big Poplars

Today, I took another group to the Caldwell Fork Loop in Cataloochee. Where was Cataloochee? Who lived here? All these buildings in the Smokies are left open to visitors. Wow!

We had lunch at the Big Poplars as we marveled at the size of the trees. Unlike the Lakeshore Trail area, wholesale loggings wasn’t allowed in Cataloochee. So we’re left with big trees.

I have done these two trails often but the group was different. It was a different experience for me.


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