This post was written about July 3rd, 2016. For those of you who are late to this party train (a.k.a. this series) check my previous posts out below.
- Smoky Mountains: Day One
- Smoky Mountains: Day Two
- Smoky Mountains: Day Three
- Smoky Mountains: Day Four
- Smoky Mountains: Day Five
Locations: Bryson City, NC -> Joyce Kilmer National Forest -> Tapoco, NC -> Fontana, NC -> Bryson City, NC
Up and ready to go this morning I packed by camera backpack with all the essentials: my camera (obviously), 50mm lens, GoPro Hero Session, and my head strap mount for my GoPro. I’ll have to write a post soon about my soon to be YouTube channel with all my GoPro adventures (stay tuned for that!). I was feeling a bit patriotic this morning so I decided to make myself a parfait with: strawberries, bananas, and blueberries. The picture turned out great but I definitely do not recommend the Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt (it has a very bad aftertaste!).
We traveled today to Joyce Kilmer National Forest. It’s about an hour drive from Bryson City. Once we got there we struggled to find a parking space. Being pretty well advertised they had a small parking lot (just enough for about 25 cars). Usually hiking trailheads have outflow parking in case the parking lot is full. So we parked on the side of the road and hoped for the best. Before we made our trek we ate a snack (or first lunch). I had a Roasted Jalapeno Kind Bar with Goldfish…a weird combination for sure.
The Joyce Kilmer National Forest is known for is VERY tall trees. The hike was only 2 miles long but the forest was gorgeous. Most of the trees are over 400 years old and up to 100 feet tall and 20 feet in circumference. Talk about big! I couldn’t get over how small I felt against them and how many there were. The forest is named after the author Joyce Kilmer wrote a poem about trees. I think I’ll write a poem about skyscrapers and have one dedicated to me (no big deal).
Once we made it back to the car we set off to find lunch. I had felt perfectly alert and awake when hiking but once I sat down I could barely keep my eyes open! Thankfully we came upon the town of Tapoco where a lodge was located with a restaurant. The food was delicious and the lodge was peaceful and located next to running water. I got a 3 Cheese Grilled Cheese with Sweet Potato Fries (divine!), my Mom got the Fried BLT, my Dad the Trout Poboy, and as an appetizer Pork Rinds! I had never seen Pork Rinds sold at any restaurant before but they were good as they were topped with Tabasco Sauce.
As we were heading to our next location we drove on part of what is known as the “Dragons Tail”. The Dragon’s Tail is 11 miles with 318 curves! We saw many motorcycles while driving just the end part and it’s absolutely crazy how fast they go!
Before heading back to Bryson City we stopped to see the Fontana Dam. The Fontana Dam is the tallest dam east of the Rockies. The Fontana Dam construction began in 1942 when President Roosevelt implemented the ‘New Deal’. The Tennessee Valley Authority was one of the programs. The TVA brung jobs to the unemployed and helped create hydroelectricity. The Fontana Dam was finished in just 3 years with no days off. Today it would take at least 10 years to build compared to just 3. The Dam is 480 ft, 2,365 in length, 29 miles of reservoir, and supplies electricity to the surrounding areas. The Dam is also apart of the Appalachian Trail and is known as ‘Fontana Hilton’ because it provides hikers with hot showers.
Back home we dug into dinner which wasn’t too exciting. I had tortilla chips with humus and laughing cow cheese. For dessert we made Banana Pudding since my mom has been having a hankering for it ever since Day Three.