Here’s the transcript of the journal that I keep for my photography trips. I usually write at the end of each day on these trips. They usually wind up being a mix of photography & travel advice to myself for future trips.
6-18-2018 – Monday
Got out late about 4:15pm. Made good time and a hotel in Marion NC. Easy driving through Chattanooga and Asheville this time of night.
6-19-2018 – Tuesday
Slept in a bit. Wouldn’t have been able to shoot the sunrise anyway due to the weather. Left the hotel about 9am and found the road to Tom’s Creek Falls. Tough to find without signs. Turn next to the Woodlawn Motel.
The parking area is marked. Easy gravel trail 1/2 mile to the falls. Impressive falls! Good spots for composition. Got some shots of mountain laurel in front with a small aperture. Used a split ND filter – we’ll see how that works.
Left the falls and drove 226 up to Little Switzerland. Not a bad way to get . here. Found the road to Grassy Creek Falls. Easy to get turned around here. The road is right after you go under the Blue Ridge Parkway. You have to park at the top and walk about a mile to the falls. ALL DOWN HILL!
Grassy Creek Falls was great. It’s not marked on the Blue Ridge Parkway, so it was not crowded! Not sure how high it is, but you can walk behind it. Got some shots there. Very slippery – wanted to cross the stream and shoot from the other side but could not.
Now at the Little Switzerland restaurant drinking an IPA & writing. Sat next to a lady from France – great conversation, but someone stole my pen.
Went to Rough Ridge and hiked to the top. Really good views from there, but no rhododendron. Measured the view angle for later.
From Rough Ridge, went to Beacon Heights – rock on the side of the mountain. Nice place to picnic – not too far from the parking lot.
Then on to Table Rock. Campsites are packed. Got a very nice single spot at about .35 miles toward the chimneys.
Shot the sunset. Met a photographer named Shawn Miller and his dog. Ate a sandwich for dinner and now in the hammock. Should be able to shoot the sunrise from here.
6-20-2018 – Wednesday
The wind was rocking last night, and I didn’t sleep much. Should get better as I get used to the hammock. Got up to see the sunrise and got some shots with pink color before it came up. Looked over to my left and a group of people were sitting on the next ridge watching the sunrise as well.
Got some shots with the 35mm as well that should be good. Hiked down and ate breakfast. Now back at camp packing up.
Hit the Blue Ridge Parkway headed north toward West Jefferson. Stopped at Moses Cone Memorial and found a parking place. They are renovating the roof of the mansion – will look OK when they paint it. Took some shots of the carriage house. Lots of people on horses and walking as well.
Stayed on the Blue Ridge Parkway until I hit a closed section. Took 421N into West Jefferson. Crazy construction here. Now eating lunch at Mt Jefferson park. Hiking to the summit next.
The summit sucked! Nothing but a cell tower. Decent trail down the ridge though. Will not be coming back here.
Left Jefferson and drove 194 to Boone and then Valle Crucis. Stopped at the Mast Store for stuff and looked for photo locations. The best seems to be centered around the Mast stuff. Shots of the Mast Stores & Inn and also from the back parking lot looking up the valley.
Holy Cross Episcopal might be OK if I can find a good composition. Left and went to Roan Mountain.
Shot a roll of B&W at the bluff and a roll of Velvia at the gardens. Back to the Blue Ridge Parkway again looking for the sunset spot but struck out. The angle is 60 degrees this time of year.
Went to Flat Rock and shot the sunset. Need to remember that the sun drops early behind the ridge. Finally got set up across from Hawksbill and made some Zatarans & salami. Pretty good stuff.
It feels like it might rain. Wish I had time to set up camp in the daylight. Found a lot of trash dumped into the fire pit that makes me nervous about bears. Made reservations for campsite #13 in GSMNP tomorrow night. April needs me home.
6-21-2018 – Thursday
Got up at 5:30, checked the sun angle and color, and then went back to sleep. Got up again at 7:30 and broke camp. Headed for Cades Cove through Elizabethtown, Johnson City, Sevierville, and Townsend.
It took forever to get to the trail head. All because a bear climbed a tree next to the road. I actually made a sandwich and ate it while sitting in traffic here. Don’t need to do this trail again unless I can be at the Cades Cove gate when it opens. Got hit with a downpour at the Visitor’s Center.
Hit the Gregory Ridge Trail around 2pm, of course almost all uphill. Got to Campsite #12 in about an hour. Ate a granola bar and refilled water. TON of bees here!
Got a mile past #12 and hit another downpour. The trail turned into a river. The trash bag I was using as a pack cover failed and my shoes were full of water. Decided to turn around and head back.
Stopped for a snack and some photos at the first foot bridge. This will be a great morning shot with the stream running East->West.
Changed into dry clothes and headed home. Hit the driveway at 10:30pm.