Laurel Springs and Ramsey Cascades

Water over the bridge

The water at Laurel Springs flowed quite enthusiastically after the previous night’s rain.  We crossed safely, but it seemed a little iffy.  It provided good crowd control, as we had the trail to ourselves from that point on for most of the afternoon.  Shortly after crossing the foot bridge, we entered into a “bear activity” warning area.  While stopped to eat lunch, we heard some suspicious grunts.  We never saw anything, but I suspect a bear was near.

Ramsey Cascades topped the next day’s agenda.  Getting to the Ramsey Cascades trail head involved a drive over some narrow gravel roads.  Said roads featured some interesting potholes, but the car came out unscathed, thanks to my stellar 10mph driving.  When it came Matthew’s turn on the way out, he upped our speed to a whopping 12 mph.

The 8-mile RT hike to the Ramsey Cascades was lovely, with many water crossings along the way.  I wore my new Five Fingers for part of the hike — much better than those horrible hiking boots I wore in Glacier (bemoaned here and here).

My birthday present
Darn, I forgot his leash
We found our reward at the end

Tree hugger!

Tree hugger

Why yes, I did mean that literally.  And yes, I am wearing socks with my sandals.  It’s what all the cool kids do, trust me.

I hugged this tree on the Ramsey Cascades trail.  Logging companies stripped most of the original trees from the area that became Smoky Mountains National Park.  This old growth tree, and a few others, stand as a reminder.

Turns out, I was in good company with the tree hugging thing.

Black bears like to hug trees, too!
So do other furry mammals

No rest for the weary

You know that, “get back from vacation and feel like to you need a vacation to recover from your vacation feeling?”  Yeah, that.

We enjoyed a fabulous week in the Smoky Mountains (except for that part where a bee stung me on the arch of my foot and the subsequent itching like crazy and swelling that engulfed my ankle bone) and returned on Saturday so that we could have a day to recover before heading back to work spend all day Sunday gardening.  Hard core gardening.

I whipped eight (or more?) rows of potatoes into shape with the help of my friend the soil miller (see here for more information), and Matthew planted forty-eight tomato plants, along with peppers, eggplant, and tomatillos.  We staggered back into our apartment shortly before eight o’clock last night, and somehow found the energy to make dinner.  (I was seriously considering finishing the last few pretzel thins from our road snack stash and going straight to bed without dinner.)

I will post vacation and garden pictures soon, but top priority right now is unpacking/reclaiming our apartment and getting back on track so we don’t eat sandwiches for lunch all week.