Monday and Tuesday, August 3-4—Hurricane Isaias and GSMNP

It rained all day Monday, as Maggie Valley was on the outer edge of Hurricane Isaias. Staying in the motorhome was not exactly what we had planned! Oh well, one has to take the good with the great.

After a lazy morning, we loaded snacks, sandwiches, and water in the car and drove through Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) on US Highway 441. It was a gorgeous drive with lots of turnouts to observe the spectacular scenery. Our ultimate objective was Cades Cove on the southwestern side of the park, as far away from us as one could get and still be in the park.

Before turning towards Cades Cove, we drove to the nearest gasoline station fill up, and that proved to be all the way through Gatlinburg. It was packed with people and cars, and very few folks wore masks; I estimated 10%, but Kay said I was being generous and estimated the number at 3%!

Gatlinburg, TN
Gatlinburg, TN

From there we made our way ever so slowly, because of traffic, to the Cades Cove Loop. Near every trailhead, parking areas and the adjacent quarter to half-mile roadside was packed with cars, and kiters taking up part of the traffic lane.

GSMNP Visitor Center Parking Lot
About 1/2 mile from a trailhead

At our first stop in Cades Cove—a Primitive Baptist Church—it began raining and rained most of the time we were traversing the Loop road. There were at least two Baptist churches and a Methodist church in the community.

Primitive Baptist Church

Traffic crawled at about 5 miles per hour, with frequent stops; no bears were spotted!

Bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Cades Cove Loop
Trailheads were not safe due to large number of people
Another parking lot, crammed full
One of the primitive houses (not too different from those where I grew up)

On the way out, we stopped along a boulder-filled stream for a late lunch. We were both excited to be traveling US Highway 341 back to Cherokee because the views were incredible. At our turn, the road was blocked and the US Park Service ranger said the road was closed, to find another route—that was it, no explanation or anything. Consequently, it was back to Gatlinburg to a route north of GSMNP connecting to I-40, and back to Maggie Valley. We were both exhausted, though very little physical activity occurred during the day, and after briefly watching downloaded British television, we “crashed”.

Photos courtesy of Kay.

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