Tag: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Fog and Cold Water

Fog and Cold Water

SimoneLipscomb (4)The final day of my re-wilding retreat began on Clingman’s Dome at an elevation of 6, 643 feet. The only day I chose to wear shorts and the air was literally a cloud of 50 degrees with high wind whipping it into frenzied, cotton-candy fragments. Thankfully I had fleece and a warm jacket and boots with wool socks that replaced my flip flops.

I wandered around the lower part of the trail and decided against a hike to the top. Dodging piles of bear scat deterred me, especially since it was densely foggy and I didn’t want to surprise a bear during his or her morning constitutional outing. If there had been other hikers I would have gone but there was simply too much bear energy afoot for me to venture up the steep trail with heavy camera and recording gear by myself.

SimoneLipscomb (6)But I didn’t feel cheated. I captured some sweet bird song with my new recording gear and even got some decent wind recordings. The images I took were also fun; however, it was simply the experience of being in the high elevation in a fogged-in situation that made it so lovely. Smelling the coniferous rainforest smells–the fir trees–always takes me to a higher level of experience. That smell is big Medicine for me.

SimoneLipscomb (10)I stood in the thick clouds, surrounded by white mist. My hair became drenched by the moisture and droplets could be heard falling from fir branches like rain. Blissful, sweet dawn…healing dawn.

SimoneLipscomb (7)After a while I made my way down from Newfound Gap and finally found myself under the clouds. The sun was bright and the air much warmer. I stopped at a favorite spot to send prayers of gratitude to Spirit and to the powerful presence of nature energies found in the protection of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

SimoneLipscomb (8)While wading in the clear, cold, rushing water I paused and placed my hands in the water. I felt the completion of a cleansing that began when I arrived a few days ago. With it came a renewed sense of joy. It’s amazing what these sacred mountains offer, the least of which is fog and cold water.

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Coyotes and Deer and Bears…Oh, MY!

Coyotes and Deer and Bears…Oh, MY!

SimoneLipscombThis morning’s visit to my sacred grounds was off-the-chart with good soul medicine. With better light today, photography was easier. And I suppose the animals liked the sunnier weather as they were out and well-represented at dawn.

SimoneLipscomb (15)I had a nice visit with a white-tailed buck who cared less that I was photographing him. There were other deer and a doe that showed off her jumping skills as she cleared two fences in apparent nervous flight. I’m guessing the star of my morning, a wily coyote, is what spooked the little girl. Not long after she cleared the second fence, Mr. Hilarious trotted out of the field and got in front of my car and escorted me down the gravel road.

SimoneLipscomb (12)He finally angled off the road and was headed into a thicket of trees. I had just caught up with him as he entered the woods so made some little whooping sounds. He sat down and started scratching. I hurried to set the ISO, aperture and shutter speed on my camera and got a few nice shots. He stood up to leave and I made the same funny whooping hoots and he sat down again and scratched. It was probably coincidence but it made me laugh just wondering if I accidently discovered a secret coyote sitting spell.

SimoneLipscomb (36)Later, after visiting a beautiful little roadway in another part of the park and finding my bliss in photographing and sound-recording water, I went back to Cades Cove. The traffic was a bit trying (code for: I lost my patience) and a bear jam didn’t help matters. I managed to catch a glimpse of a mother and two cubs as the park volunteer scared them up a hill. I’ve seen people act completely stupid with bears, forgetting that they are not tame, cuddly creatures but very large mammals with four-inch claws. However, those are stories for another day….and they do explain how the gene pool gets cleansed on occasion.

SimoneLipscomb (16)The wildness here, even with many visitors, is what calls to me. I find quiet places where few people go and spend a few moments completely lost in the creative process of capturing the essence of a stream or flower or dew-soaked spider web. In the quiet, when it’s just the crickets and birds and wind singing the story of this place, I am at peace. I am connected to something grand, magnificent. I am home.

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Bear Jams…I Must Be in Cades Cove

Bear Jams…I Must Be in Cades Cove

800_0371In the foggy darkness I headed toward Cades Cove. A mere seven miles from my base of operation during my brief stay in the Smoky Mountains. In the pre-dawn chill the 58 degrees was intense for this tropical gal. But who can resist the lure of sunrise in this beautiful place?

I sat waiting at the gate with others, lined up in our vehicles awaiting the chance to visit this wildlife haven. This place of magnificent beauty. The pink clouds peeking out from the fading night sky completely disappeared when the ranger opened the gate. Cades Cove was officially fogged in. It was as if a curtain of white dropped on the day.

800_0435So when fog gives you lemons you made photographs…you know the saying. My lemonade was spider webs dripping with diamond-like water droplets, deer fading in and out of foggy meadows and then a glorious lifting of fog mid-morning when a lovely bear sauntered out of the woods.

800_0765A bear volunteer was busy yelling at people to stay back…stay back. One of three times I’ve seen a black bear show aggression toward humans was when a man was yelling at people to ‘stay back.’ The bear didn’t appreciate the loud and aggressive male shouting so she chased him to his vehicle. Go ahead and yell Ms. Volunteer. I’ll stay away from you!

And later, at sunset, a serious bear jam happened. No rangers or volunteers nearby to keep traffic moving or stupid people from getting too close to this juvenile. You can stand back and watch a bear’s boundary, where her personal space has been invaded. And yes, smart ass guy who thought walking within a few feet of a juvenile black bear was great fun….I saw you run like a scared kid.

800_1019It was a glorious day…sunrise to sunset. Some stupid people pushing the boundaries of the local black bear population and some very tolerant white-tailed deer made this just another day in Cades Cove. Bear jams, fog, wildflowers and mountain splendor. And today…I got to share the afternoon with a photog friend of mine from Asheville. Thanks Jen!

800_1173And thanks black bear, does, bucks and wildflowers…and of course the mountains, that surround me with such nurturing energy. Tomorrow awaits!

Pigs are Not Domesticated and May Bite

Pigs are Not Domesticated and May Bite

800_0101There is a certain place on the highway toward the mountains where the forest opens up and there are the beloved mountains! It always makes me smile in my heart. Today was no different.

I haven’t visited the Smoky Mountains in a while due to the move last year and the process of getting settled. But a few weeks ago they were calling me and so I decided to visit after summer crowds were gone and before the masses of tourists in October–the busiest month of the year there.

800_0327It’s really a visit home for me. As a kid I loved these mountains with a deep, heart-felt joy. That hasn’t changed. I always feel ‘right’ here…in balance, at peace. Anchored in my skin. I feel that way on the Alabama Coast as well….but they are distinctly different ecosystems. And the mountains are not nearly as developed as the coast…which is almost totally developed, almost totally choked with houses, condos, restaurants….and on and on.

Like all wild areas, the Smoky Mountains speak to a part of me that is still wild and undomesticated. The wild woman within who likes to feel the squishy mud between her toes, warm sand underfoot, gaze out over a vast horizon at the edge of the sea and stand on mountaintops and feel the immenseness of space.

800_9979Today, while visiting the mountain farm near Cherokee, NC in the Smoky Mountain National Park, I saw a sign attached to the pig pen: “Pigs are not domesticated and may bite.” I thought of my wild woman self and realized she has that same potential. Don’t try to pen me up as I will bite…no ‘may’ about it.

I began to ponder the idea of domestication and immediately thought of computers and email and social media. While all can be useful tools, they can also be thieves that steal our wildness and keep us chained to a plastic box that squawks at us when someone is trying to contact us.

800_0234Sometimes we need to unplug and attune ourselves once again to the rhythms of nature…that magical, mystical web of life from which our physical bodies arise. It is home to us…it helps us reconnect with that from which we came.

800_9940I didn’t know what the day would bring as I motored closer to the most amazing biosphere of the Smokies. As I crested a ridge near Franklin, NC the fog–that living, breathing beast of ¬†white mist–rolled over the mountain to kiss my cheeks with moisture. Welcome home, daughter. Come play in the wildness. Come feel your Mother nurture you. Rest…explore…absorb the limitless beauty.

For the next few days, I am not domesticated and I will bite….but only if someone tries to put me in a pen.

800_0284It’s time to fly!