Thursday, April 30, 2015 – Big Creek
Andy was up early and figured out why we could not get a signal yesterday; the signal booster was not plugged in. He said it was 48 degrees outside when he got up this morning.
The first thing we heard on the park radio this morning was a report that the 350 (a bear) was running over the hill. We obviously missed the best part of that story.
Maintenance Spence was off work today; Thursday and Friday are his weekend. Boss Larry was in a training class so we did not see him either.
It is a one-mile walk for us to leave the motorhome, walk around the tent campground, check out Big Creek at the bridge, pass the motorhome and take the horse trail to walk around the horse campground, and then back to the motorhome. We plan to do it three times a day to get in our three miles.
The sun was in and out behind small clouds for the morning walk. The leaves were wet from and early rain. It was brilliant. There was no sun as we walked up the road to the tent campground.
Yellow Trilliums are everywhere. Many of the leaves had been chewed on, but I found a number of bite-free ones. These were in the picnic area next to the creek.
Big Creek was a torrent by the tent campground. It was mostly white water behind the gnarly old tree.
I spotted so many wildflowers today, but have not looked them up to tell you what they are. This tiny violet-type thing was on the path by the creek.
This amazing yellow one was just a little farther along the path. Those are impossibly tiny flowers.
Here is the first of many pictures of the bridge over Big Creek you will see in May and June.
The gorgeous cluster was on the far bank of the creek.
I walked down to the water’s edge and took a picture of my scale model Andy on the bridge.
These, my favorite of the day, were also on the far bank.
On our way back to Sao from our morning walk around the campground, a car stopped by us and a man said that someone had left a backpack sitting in the parking lot. We walked past the cars blocking our view of it and saw the backpack sitting out by itself, not near any cars. Someone drove off without it. It was open and full of gear, so I zipped it up and handed it to Andy to carry. It was heavy. I planned to examine the contents for some identification when we got back to our campsite and report it to Dispatch. Just as we got to the sidewalk at the end of the parking lot, a car came speeding in, driving the wrong way in the one-way traffic circle. When he got near us, he held his arm out of the car and yelled, “That’s mine! That’s mine!” Andy handed him the backpack and told him to slow down when he leaves. He said he was speeding to hurry back to retrieve his pack.
The horse camp is immaculate and ready for the season.
Andy laid out our plastic outdoor carpet and staked the corners. Then we set up our new screen room. It fits nicely over the picnic table. We were anxious to get it up as the gnats are swarming around our heads.
Spence had mentioned them yesterday and today we saw them for ourselves. There are a bazillion small brown grasshoppers here. That is no exaggeration; it’s an estimate. When we walked by them in the forest, their jumping in the dry leaves sounded like rain. We had not seen them here before, but this place is alive with them now. I mean grasshoppers in Biblical proportions.
At 1345, someone at Clingman’s Dome called dispatch (700) to report that it was snowing up there. It started raining here in Big Creek at 1400 and rained lightly for the rest of the day.
There was a mildly interesting conversation on the radio between two park employees.
“ You are leaving a lot of smoke behind you.”
“Yeah, this thing is using a quart of oil every three or four days. Your spotlight in on.”
Someone reported a tree down across a guardrail and asked for someone to come with a chain saw to remove it. Another person responded that he would send someone and, then a few minutes later, a third guy said he was on his way.
It was raining for the afternoon walk around, but I carried my umbrella and took pictures until it was too dark to get them in focus. This cluster of small white flowers is growing on the moss on a boulder lining the campground road.
The Sweet Shrub is in bloom along the campground road too.
I took another, close up, for a better look.
The field of large boulders is green as ever.
We chatted with the campers huddled under their tarps to stay dry. Everyone seemed happy. It was getting colder so Andy stopped back in the motorhome to put on a sweatshirt under his raincoat. I saw this turkey on the horse trail while I waited outside.
It’s not the best picture ever, but it is better than my usual turkey butt.
At 1800, someone reported from Clingman’s Dome that the snow was starting to stick. At 1920, the park closed the road to Clingman’s Dome. There was ½ to ¾ of an inch at that point. A ranger called in tags for two cars parked there to see if they belonged to backpackers. Dispatch checked and both cars belonged to people who had registered for backcountry campsites for tonight so they didn’t have to worry about them driving out in the snow.
A woman was walking by our site as it was getting dark so Andy went out to see if she needed some directions. She said she was looking for a place to pitch her tent. Andy asked where she came from and she said she had walked from Georgia. Surely, not today. Then Andy told her where to find the tent campground.