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Old Jan 2, 2010, 6:14 PM   #1
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Default Cove Mountain & Laurel Falls

Mid January I will be leading three good long hikes in the Smokies for a special event called Wilderness Wildlife Week. So I've been checking the trails in advance, to be sure our hikes will be both informative and safe. Yesterday (first hike of 2010!), we checked out Cove Mt and Laurel Falls trails - a very diverse area, mostly at the edge of the park.

There had been some rain in the low country, but several inches of snow higher up. So we hiked first in mud, then in snow, then back to muddy landscapes again. And there is a little (12 foot high) waterfall at the start of the trail called "Cataract Falls."
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Old Jan 2, 2010, 6:15 PM   #2
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Not a lot of great views on this hike, but some tantalizing glimpses.
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Old Jan 2, 2010, 6:16 PM   #3
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And of course lots of lovely details - highlighted by the ice and frost.
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Old Jan 2, 2010, 6:18 PM   #4
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Although we saw no other human tracks on the way up Cove Mt, we did see signs of many OTHER travellers - such as Grouse, Red Squirrel, and something else...
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Old Jan 2, 2010, 6:20 PM   #5
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Cove Mt trail is gradually uphill for about 8 miles, then a bit steeper as you approach the fire tower. (2nd shot done with "orton effect" - what do you think of it?)
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Old Jan 2, 2010, 6:21 PM   #6
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The fire tower has been converted into an air quality monitoring station, so we could not climb up it. There are nice views from the clearings nearby, but not yesterday (thick icy fog had moved in....)
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Old Jan 2, 2010, 6:23 PM   #7
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The hike on down Laurel Falls trail is an easy 4 miles - but we were cold, and so did not stop for many photos. We reached the falls after about 2.5 miles - there were MANY people there enjoying the falls, and enjoying one of the very few (only?) paved trails in the Smokies (that last 1.5 miles or so of trail).
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Old Jan 2, 2010, 6:24 PM   #8
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Another great day to enjoy the mountains, and to prepare for future hikes. Hope you enjoyed it too, and that you will share your comments/critique!
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Old Jan 2, 2010, 8:34 PM   #9
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Very nice series, as usual with me, I like the detail shots best, I think. As far as your picture using the orton effect, at this size there doesn't look like there's a huge difference between them. While I like how the effect increased the mysteriousness of the scene, I think I prefer the original by just a bit. And it's interesting that they used the fire tower for air quality monitoring, a neat idea. We have a number of old fire towers around our local mountains, but they either get removed, or else barely maintained. There's one that I see every day on our daily commute - it's maintained up to a point, but not used. A couple of years ago, during the Day Fire, it seemed so strange to see lights in the tower - the fire-fighters were using it.
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Old Jan 2, 2010, 10:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mole View Post
The hike on down Laurel Falls trail is an easy 4 miles - but we were cold, and so did not stop for many photos. We reached the falls after about 2.5 miles - there were MANY people there enjoying the falls, and enjoying one of the very few (only?) paved trails in the Smokies (that last 1.5 miles or so of trail).

Nice to see some water in the falls.

Last two times my wife and I were there was during the drought and the water was just at a trickle. Same for Grotto Falls.
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