Author Archives: Bill

The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep

The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep

Dark Woods in the Smoky Mountains
Dark Woods in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only

Celebrating a fine Smoky Mountain day with a few thoughts gleaned from poet Wendell Berry:

I come into the peace of wild things … for a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. We pray, not for new earth or heaven, but to be quiet in heart, and in eye, clear. What we need is here.

Deep in the Smoky Mountains Woods
Deep in the Smoky Mountains Woods © William Britten use with permission only

I part the out-thrusting branches and come in beneath the blessed and the blessing trees. Though I am silent, there is singing around me. Though I am dark, there is vision around me.

Planting trees early in spring, we make a place for birds to sing in time to come. How do we know? They are singing here now. There is no other guarantee that singing will ever be.

Light at the end of the trail
Light at the end of the trail © William Britten use with permission only
Miles Away on Monday: Clouds Floating By

Miles Away on Monday: Clouds Floating By

Rockers with a View © William Britten use with permission only

It’s  a blue-sky morning, clouds floating by. The Smoky Mountains are shimmering in the distance. Two cheerful rockers wait for you on the deck. Take a few moments, sit down, take it all in.

It’s a good day for a hike or a good day to wander the shops on Glades Rd. Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN

great smoky mountains prints

Artfair Time: Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair!

Artfair Time: Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair!

Set-up today for the July 2017 version of the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. Running from July 14th through the 23rd, look for me at the bottom of the escalator just as you enter.

We start setting up for the fair with a blank slate … just a bunch of boxes and empty display panels.  By the end of the set-up we’re waiting for customers in a temporary art gallery.

The William Britten Gallery will be open during the fair, so please stop in and see us at either or both locations.  The Convention Center is located at stoplight number 8 on the parkway in Gatlinburg.

Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair Setup
Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair Setup
Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair Booth
Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair Booth
Mysterious Mountain Memories

Mysterious Mountain Memories

Smoky Mountains Midnight Dawn
Smoky Mountains Midnight Dawn © William Britten use with permission only

In the middle of a hot summer, I can get restless, and feeling a bit confined within the boundaries of “normal” images. I start to think “outside the camera.”  For example, a few weeks ago I wrote a post about camera movement during long exposures to create photographic Impressionism.

Today’s Smoky Mountains photos have a bit of the surreal, a dash of a midnight memory or dream with a dollop of daylight’s bright colors. It’s like filling in the blanks of your memory along the border between the dream and the wakeful daytime. Of course the Light and the Dark are the two realms we know, and to mix them together can stir up feelings.

What do the images suggest to you or make you feel?

Sunlight chases the night
Sunlight chases the night © William Britten use with permission only

The photos on this page were taken in the area of the Smoky Mountains known as the Roaring Fork. This is a beautiful area, and somewhat mysterious under any conditions, especially with those green boulders strewn down the stream bed. These pictures are more experiments with long exposures. It’s early in the morning along the dark creeks, and the day is not nearly as bright as the photos make it seem.  The exposure times are in the area of 30 seconds, which adds another dash of the surreal with the extreme flow of the whitewater.

When your dreams finally clear, please consider a stop at the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg.  My complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos might tempt you with a special memory to take home with you.

Roaring Fork Memories
Roaring Fork Memories © William Britten use with permission only
Along the Roaring Fork: Bud Ogle Farm

Along the Roaring Fork: Bud Ogle Farm

Smoky Mountains Landmark
Smoky Mountains Landmark © William Britten use with permission only

The Ogle family goes way back in the Gatlinburg area. In fact, Noah Ogle’s great-grandparents, William  (1756–1803) and his wife Martha Huskey (1756–1826), made a life here in the early 1800s. Noah (aka Bud) and Cindy Ogle settled on this 400 acre homestead in 1879 and lived here until Noah’s death in 1913.

Bud Ogle Cabin © William Britten use with permission only
Bud Ogle Cabin © William Britten use with permission only

The Smoky Mountains forest has reclaimed most of the cleared land now, so it’s hard to imagine a family making a subsistence living here. All that is left now is the log cabin and barn. The cabin is “saddle-bag” style, with two cabins joined by a common chimney. The barn is the last remaining four-pen barn in the Smokies, consisting of four 11-square-foot livestock pens, covered by a split-shingled roof.

Just behind the cabin is a nature trail that meanders through a hemlock forest beside LeConte Creek to an old tub mill with wooden flume.

Bud Ogle Barn © William Britten use with permission only
Bud Ogle Barn © William Britten use with permission only

To visit the Ogle Farm, turn at stoplight number 8 in Gatlinburg and go up the hill, entering the Smoky Mountain National Park via the Cherokee Orchard Road entrance. The old farmstead is an attractive location for photos anytime of year. I love to come up here after a snowfall, as compositions with the old log cabin and barnwood in a snowy setting make for especially attractive photos.

The Ogle cabin is one of my Featured Photos. Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Bud Ogle Cabin © William Britten use with permission only
Bud Ogle Cabin © William Britten use with permission only
Miles Away on Monday: Bicycling in Cades Cove

Miles Away on Monday: Bicycling in Cades Cove

Bicycling-Cades-Cove

I can’t think of a more idyllic way to get your exercise than to bike the Cades Cove Loop in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

From May through September on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10:00 the Loop Road is closed to motorized vehicles, so the entire glorious 11-mile scenic road is open for biking and hiking. Wow!  This is one of the greatest experiences anywhere.

If you can’t schedule your ride for Wednesday or Saturday, bicycles and walking are allowed any day, but you should start early to avoid the traffic that builds up later in the day.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Cades Cove: Methodist Church

Cades Cove: Methodist Church

Cades Cove Church © William Britten use with permission only
Cades Cove Church © William Britten use with permission only

The story goes that the Methodist Church in Cades Cove was constructed in 115 days at a cost of $115 by a man who served for many years as the minister.

The current frame building was built in 1902, replacing the log structure that had served from the 1820s.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Inside the Methodist Church © William Britten use with permission only
Inside the Methodist Church © William Britten use with permission only
Cades Cove: Primitive Baptist Church

Cades Cove: Primitive Baptist Church

Cades Cove Baptist Church © William Britten use with permission only
Cades Cove Baptist Church © William Britten use with permission only

The Primitive Baptist Church in the Cades Cove section of the Great Smoky Mountains was established in 1827 in a log structure that served the congregation until the current church was built in 1887. The graveyard behind the church has some very old tombstones with familiar Cades Cove names, such as Sparks, Oliver, and Shields.

Smoky Mountain Church © William Britten use with permission only
Primitive Baptist Church © William Britten use with permission only

During the Civil War, worship at the church was suspended because the congregation was sympathetic to the Union, while much of Cades Cove was not. The interior of the church is in fact primitive, with sturdy and stern pews facing a basic pulpit.

Primitive Church interior © William Britten use with permission only
Primitive Church interior © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Cataloochee: Palmer House Continued

Cataloochee: Palmer House Continued

Palmer House creepy interior © William Britten use with permission only
Palmer House creepy interior © William Britten use with permission only

It’s Philosophical Friday again, and we’re continuing on with yesterday’s post into the creepy interior of the Palmer House. The image above might be crying out “What happened? Where did the time go? It seems like just yesterday that Jarvis and his wife were rising at dawn, rushing out into the Cataloochee sunshine.” If walls could talk.

Beauty of Decay © William Britten use with permission only
Beauty of Decay © William Britten use with permission only

I got lost for hours in the Palmer House a few weeks ago. The ravages of time can create beauty in the human detritus, similar to the erosion of a canyon in the natural world. The images above and below show layers of decay in the wallcoverings of the house.

Beauty of Decay © William Britten use with permission only
Beauty of Decay © William Britten use with permission only

And here is a close-up of a door with exquisitely cracked and peeling paint.  Wow!

Beauty of Decay © William Britten use with permission only
Beauty of Decay © William Britten use with permission only

Finally, some old newspapers either before or after the wallpaper … who knows? But the furniture advertised sure was cheap. And the last one below … I love that report about the “gang of professional safeblowers.” Gotta be the 1920s or 1930s.

Old newspaper wallcovering © William Britten use with permission only
Old newspaper wallcovering © William Britten use with permission only
Old newspaper wallcovering © William Britten use with permission only
Old newspaper wallcovering © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Cataloochee: Beech Grove School

Cataloochee: Beech Grove School

Beech Grove School © William Britten use with permission only
Beech Grove School © William Britten use with permission only

Beech Grove School was built in 1901 and was one of three schools in the Cataloochee area of the Smoky Mountains. The school term, oriented to the agrarian society, ran from November through January or sometimes through March.

Beech Grove had two rooms and is the only one of the three schools remaining in the valley.

Beech Grove School in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only
Beech Grove School in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community

Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community

Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community in Gatlinburg
Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community in Gatlinburg

If you are in Gatlinburg on a Smoky Mountain vacation, don’t forget about one of the most fun and unique activities … a leisurely shopping trip along the loop of arts and crafts shops that make up the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community.

Head out of Gatlinburg on Route 321 and watch for the big green sign at the Glades Road traffic light just past McDonalds. Or alternatively you can begin the 8 mile loop farther out at Buckhorn Road. Either way, there are dozens of interesting shops to catch your fancy along the route that has been in existence since 1937!

Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community in Gatlinburg
Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community in Gatlinburg

And of course, please stop in at Morning Mist Village, which is where you will find the complete display of my Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery.

The Arts and Crafts Community website has an online map and a list of all member artists.

Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community in Gatlinburg
Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community in Gatlinburg
Cataloochee: Palmer House

Cataloochee: Palmer House

Palmer House in Cataloochee © William Britten use with permission only
Palmer House in Cataloochee © William Britten use with permission only

The Palmer House in Big Cataloochee Valley was originally built around 1860 by George Lafayette Palmer. It was a “dog-trot” house, with two log cabins joined by a common roof. By 1900 the Palmers were prospering, and the house was fancied up with siding on the outside and paneling inside. The homestead included a barn, springhouse and other outbuildings.

When the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was created, the Palmers moved out, and a Park Ranger moved in.

Palmer House and barn © William Britten use with permission only
Palmer House and barn © William Britten use with permission only
Palmer Springhouse © William Britten use with permission only
Palmer Springhouse © William Britten use with permission only

From the outside, the Palmer House looks ordinary enough, even quite attractive. But on the inside things get a little creepy. This is the kind of stuff I could spend hours photographing … to be continued.

Palmer House creepy interior © William Britten use with permission only
Palmer House creepy interior © William Britten use with permission only
Palmer House creepy interior © William Britten use with permission only
Palmer House creepy interior © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Cataloochee: Palmer Chapel

Cataloochee: Palmer Chapel

Palmer Chapel in Cataloochee Valley
Palmer Chapel in Cataloochee Valley © William Britten use with permission only

Cataloochee Valley is one of the hidden wonders of the Smoky Mountains. The best way from Gatlinburg is to schedule an entire day for the journey to Cataloochee. Either take the back road from Cosby, or exit 20 off I40 in North Carolina, then meander into Catalochee on NC284.

Palmer Chapel dates from 1898, and is still in great condition in a very picturesque setting. The photo above was actually created from three vertical panels. I use this technique when there is not enough room to step back from a structure and level the camera to make the walls perpendicular.

Church Interior
Church Interior © William Britten use with permission only
View from the pulpit
View from the pulpit © William Britten use with permission only

The image above shows the interior of Palmer Chapel from the preacher’s perspective! Services in the chapel were conducted by circuit riders from the Western North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Palmer Chapel
Palmer Chapel © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Bluets

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Bluets

Bluets (Houstonia serpyllifolia)
Bluets (Houstonia serpyllifolia) © William Britten use with permission only

Bluets (Houstonia serpyllifolia) are identified by the four blue petals surrounding a yellow spot. Common names for this wildflower include Thyme-leaved Bluet, Prostrate Bluet, Mountain Bluet, and Creeping Bluet. The plant is tiny, only 3 to 5 inches tall, but growing in a large group they can make a beautiful statement.

The photo above was found along the Thomas Divide Trail in late-April.  The photos below were found near Clingmans Dome in Mid-May.

Smoky Mtns wildflowers
Smoky Mtns wildflowers © William Britten use with permission only

Bluets enjoy moist conditions, along streams especially. Look for them along Clingman’s Dome Road later than in the lower elevations.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Bluets along the trail
Bluets along the trail © William Britten use with permission only
Bluets (Houstonia serpyllifolia)
Bluets (Houstonia serpyllifolia) © William Britten use with permission only

 

How to Photograph Flowing Water

How to Photograph Flowing Water

From the Chimneys Picnic area
From the Chimneys Picnic area © William Britten use with permission only

Photographing one of the many creek scenes in the Smoky Mountains presents a few challenges. First is the desire to capture the sense of flowing water, rather than water that is frozen. To do this you will need your camera on a tripod with an exposure time of one-half to three-quarters of a second. If you go much longer than this, the water will appear foamy and surreal — which may be what you want in some cases. Take a look at the two photos below of a rock in a torrent of water.  The only difference between the two is exposure time. The one on the left was taken with a slightly longer exposure time that blurred the water a little bit more. There’s really no correct way to do it … try experimenting and pick the result that most appeals to you.

Photo Tip: longer exposure
Photo Tip: longer exposure © William Britten use with permission only
Photo Tip: less exposure
Photo Tip: less exposure © William Britten use with permission only

 

Beautiful Flowing Water
Beautiful Flowing Water © William Britten use with permission only

Another challenge with water is the glare of harsh lighting and the danger of over-exposing the whites. The simplest solution to this problem is to photograph on cloudy or rainy days or at least find a scene that is shaded from direct sunlight. In the example to the left, a close-in composition of a small cascade avoided severe lighting conditions.

A more complicated solution to harsh lighting is to take multiple exposures (bracketing). The idea is to take one or more exposures to get your shadow areas developed, then reduce the exposure time to bring the highlights (whites) down into an acceptable range. However, you will need to know how to blend your images with software such as Photoshop.

Finally, flowing water looks very dramatic if you get down low and close to the flow. Normally, the drama is increased if the stream is coming at you as in the photo below, and the one at the top of this posting. The final image below shows a creek scene with the flow going away. To me this perspective conveys peace and tranquility. You can decide when either perspective might be more appealing.

That’s my photo tip to achieve perfect flowing water for your Smoky Mountains creek pictures.

Wild Smoky Mountains Creek
Wild Smoky Mountains Creek © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Flowing Water
Smoky Mountains Flowing Water © William Britten use with permission only

Click on the images above for a slide-show of larger versions. Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Mountain Laurel Time in the Smokies

Mountain Laurel Time in the Smokies

Mountain Laurel in the Smoky Mountains  © William Britten use with permission only
Mountain Laurel in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only
Mountain Laurel bloom in the Smoky Mountains  © William Britten use with permission only
Mountain Laurel bloom in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only

It’s that beautiful time of year again when the Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) bloom along the trails and in the woods of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Mountain Laurel are similar to, and often mistaken for, Rhododendron. In the Smokies the Laurel bloom primarily during May, while the Rhododendron come along in June and July.

One of the Featured Photographs at the William Britten Gallery is Path to Serenity, which shows a hillside of Mountain Laurel blooming along the trail to Spruce Flat Falls.

Mountain Laurel bloom in the Smoky Mountains  © William Britten use with permission only
Mountain Laurel bloom in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only

One of the best displays of Mountain Laurel can be found along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. At the top of the hill there is a parking area to the left. In early to mid-May you can see the thickets of laurel from your car, but to get the full effect, get out and walk in among all the blooms.

I was in that spot photographing, deep in my private reverie with my eyes in the camera viewfinder. Suddenly I heard some snorting and clomping, and looked up to see that a doe had joined me in the laurel thicket. She was unafraid, and stayed close by for 30 minutes or so, even when I moved my tripod from spot to spot.

Deer in  the Mountain Laurel © William Britten use with permission only
Deer in the Mountain Laurel © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Mountain Laurel in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only
Mountain Laurel in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only
Mountain Laurel in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only
Mountain Laurel in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Crested Dwarf Iris

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Crested Dwarf Iris

Crested Dwarf Iris (Iris cristata)
Crested Dwarf Iris (Iris cristata) © William Britten use with permission only

Continuing our theme of spring wildflowers of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, first up this week is the Crested Dwarf Iris (Iris cristata). This flower is an April bloomer, especially along the Chestnut Top Trail near Townsend. On the Bud Ogle Nature Trail there are some large colonies.

The flower gets its name from the distinctive yellow crest that is meant to guide insects towards their pollination target. Compared to the common iris that you may have in your front garden, Crested Dwarf Iris is a truly tiny plant that may only be 4 inches tall.

 

Crested Dwarf Iris (Iris cristata)
Crested Dwarf Iris (Iris cristata) © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mtn Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Crested Dwarf Iris © William Britten use with permission only
Crested Dwarf Iris © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Footbridges

Smoky Mountains Footbridges

Smoky Mountains Footbridge  © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Footbridge © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Footbridge  © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Footbridge © William Britten use with permission only

If you do much hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ve certainly found yourself in the situation pictured above.

Love them or hate them, footbridges are common along Smokies trails. Some are vertigo-inducing challenges, and others are tame alternatives to hopping rocks across the stream.

Most of them are simple log bridges spanning the creek, while others are much more elaborate, as in the snow-covered footbridge on the Ramsay Cascades Trail pictured below.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Smoky Mountains Footbridge  © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Footbridge © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Footbridge  © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Footbridge © William Britten use with permission only
Spring Snow on Mt. LeConte

Spring Snow on Mt. LeConte

Spring Snow on Mt. LeConte © William Britten use with permission only
Spring Snow on Mt. LeConte © William Britten use with permission only

A spring snow dusted Mt. LeConte  on Tuesday night, closing the road to Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s not unusual to see the contrasts of winter and spring in one scene as in the picture above. The summit of Mt. LeConte is around 6500 feet, while the green trees in the foreground are down around 1500 feet.

The photo above was taken from the same vantage point near my home in the Glades area of Gatlinburg as Smoky Mountain Moonrise,  which shows snow on the summit of Mt. LeConte and fall foliage below.

Stop in and visit me at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Click on the image above to view a dramatic hi-resolution version.

It’s Spring and All is Right with the World

It’s Spring and All is Right with the World

Smoky Mountains Spring Creek © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Spring Creek © William Britten use with permission only

“The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in his Heaven—
All’s right with the world!”

Robert Browning


Smoky Mountains Spring Mist  © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Spring Mist © William Britten use with permission only

Spring Leaves © William Britten use with permission only
Spring Leaves © William Britten use with permission only

Featured Photo: October Light

 

What a special moment this was.  I had been wandering along the Lynn Camp Prong in the Tremont area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was a beautiful fall day, but nothing was drawing my attention. Then I came upon this spot where some downed trees had created a dam that was reflecting the autumn canopy, and there was that small waterfall, and the creek meandering into the distance. It was a nice scene, but the light was flat and dull. So I set up the camera on a tripod and waited.

The sun was getting lower in the west, which was in the direction down the creek, so I was hoping that eventually something good might happen. I probably waited for over an hour, and finally the area was lit up with a golden glow, including a nice reflection off the water.  A long exposure time of close to one second gave the water an exaggerated sense of motion and added a softness to the golden reflection.  This light lasted for only 10 minutes or so.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Fringed Phacelia

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Fringed Phacelia

Fringed Phacelia  © William Britten use with permission only
Fringed Phacelia © William Britten use with permission only

Fringed Phacelia (Phacelia fimbriata) is the wildflower that covers the hillsides along the Newfound Gap Road like a late dusting of snow in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The blooms form a densely packed groundcover in April. The Fringed variety is one of four Phacelias found in the Smoky Mountains.

Perhaps the most unique characteristic of Fringed Phacelia is that the plant dies after blooming, leaving its seeds to sprout the following year. It’s an annual!

Fringed Phacelia can be viewed along the Cove Hardwoods Nature Trail, where it forms a thick understory to the trilliums and other larger wildflowers. Both the photograph above and the one below were taken a few days ago on the Cove Hardwood Trail in the Chimneys Picnic Area.

Phacelia on Porters Creek Trail
Phacelia on Porters Creek Trail © William Britten use with permission only

There is also an especially attractive cove of Phacelia along the upper portions of the Porters Creek Trail as seen in the photo above.

If you’re on a Smoky Mountains getaway, please stop in for a visit at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN, where my complete collection of Smoky Mountains photographs are on display.

Fringed Phacelia  © William Britten use with permission only
Fringed Phacelia © William Britten use with permission only
Wildflower Trails: Chestnut Top Trail

Wildflower Trails: Chestnut Top Trail

Chestnut Top Trail © William Britten use with permission only
Chestnut Top Trail © William Britten use with permission only

Just a hundred yards north of the Townsend Wye is a parking lot, and across the road is the start of the Chestnut Top Trail. In spring this is one of the premier Smoky Mountains wildflowers hikes, with opportunities for photos every few feet! The trail cuts into a steep embankment, climbing steadily for the first half-mile or so. It is this part of the hike that is packed with a huge assortment of flowers. Hike the trail often during late March and April, and you will see plenty of Trilliums. Fire Pink, Star Chickweed, Trailing Arbutus, Crested Dwarf Iris, Squawroot, Spring Beauty, Bishops Cap, Foamflower, Stonecrop, and many more. How’s that for name-dropping?

Another nice thing about Chestnut Top Trail is that the steep bank puts many of the blooms almost at eye level on the upper side of the hill, which sets them up nicely for photos.

As you climb the steep hill, the Little River runs north below you, and eventually you can spot the fields of Tuckaleechee Cove.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of wildflowers and landscape photos of the Smoky Mountains at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.  And if you are a facebook user, please “Like” either of the two pages shown on the panel to the right. On the Wildflowers Community page we share photos, bloom locations, and other tips.

Crested Dwarf Iris © William Britten use with permission only
Crested Dwarf Iris © William Britten use with permission only

Smoky Mountain Cantilever barns

Smoky Mountain Cantilever barns

Smoky Mountains cantilever barn © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains cantilever barn © William Britten use with permission only

The picture above is from the Tipton Homeplace in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s a great example of the vernacular architecture known as the cantilever barn. The style of hanging a large upper loft area over two cribs below is unique to the area in and around the Smoky Mountains during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Of just over 300 of these barns known to have existed, about 290 were in the two Tennessee counties bordering the Great Smoky Mountains.

To me, this style of barn architecture reflects the Appalachian mountain peoples’ clever and practical solutions to everyday problems. In this case, the climate around the mountains was very humid, which presented a challenge to keep the hayloft dry and mold-free.  Solution: air circulation between the loft and the moist ground.

The example below is a modified cantilever, with supports on both ends. This is the John Messer barn along the Porters Creek Trail in the Greenbrier section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It stands near the historic Smoky Mountains Hiking Club cabin.

On your next trip to the Smokies please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

 

Cantilever barn in the Smoky Mountains
Cantilever barn in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Pink Lady’s Slipper

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Pink Lady’s Slipper

 

Pink Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium acaule)
Pink Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) © William Britten use with permission only

Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) is a member of the orchid family that grows to 18 inches tall. It’s a fairly rare Smoky Mtn wildflower to find! The ladies above were spotted stepping out just off  Twin Creeks trail near the Bud Ogle Place on the Roaring Fork. The photo at the bottom was taken along the Porters Creek Trail in the Greenbrier area of the Smokies.

Pink Lady’s Slipper is nearly impossible to propagate or transplant. The dry acidic woods are the most likely place to find them growing. They bloom in late April at the lower elevations.

 

Pink Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium acaule)
Pink Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) © William Britten use with permission only

The genus name Cypripedium is derived from the Greek, meaning “Venus’ shoe.”

After the wildflower hunt, please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mtn Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. I’m in Morning Mist Village on Glades Rd along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail.

Smoky Mtn wildflowers
Smoky Mtn wildflowers © William Britten use with permission only

 

 

 

 

Smoky Mountain Llamas

Smoky Mountain Llamas

Smoky Mountain Llamas © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountain Llamas © William Britten use with permission only

A packtrain of llamas is used to carry bed linens and supplies to Mt. LeConte Lodge. The llamas are easier on the heavily used Great Smoky Mountains National Park trails than horses.

In the picture below the llamas are passing behind Grotto Falls. Normally, the packtrain makes the trip from the Grotto Falls Parking area on the Roaring Fork Motor Trail on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Departure is often just around daybreak, and return between 3:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon.

Llamas behind Grotto Falls © William Britten use with permission only
Llamas behind Grotto Falls © William Britten use with permission only

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Painted Trillium

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Painted Trillium

Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum)
Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum) © William Britten use with permission only

Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum) is one of the most attractive, and most elusive of the Trilliums.  A rare sight, perhaps because it is at the southern edge of it’s range in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Painted Trillium favors cool northern forests.

Identification is very easy, with the prominent maroon paint circling the inner bloom. This Smoky Mtn wildflower favors acidic soils, so look for it in the shade of acid-loving plants such as pines and rhododendrons.  The example above was found growing on top of a large boulder beside the Porters Creek Trail in the Greenbrier section of the Smokies.  The photo below was taken along the Thomas Divide trail, where the bloom occurs much later at the higher elevation.

 

Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum)
Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum) © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mtn Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

 

Smoky Mtn wildflower
Smoky Mtn wildflower © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Wake Robin Trillium and Bishops Cap

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Wake Robin Trillium and Bishops Cap

Wake Robin Trillium © William Britten use with permission only
Wake Robin Trillium © William Britten use with permission only

April is prime wildflower time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so I will be devoting many posts to that springtime topic as the annual Wildflower Pilgrimage approaches later this month.

As the name implies, the Wake Robin Trillium (Trillium erectum) is an early bloomer and heralder of spring. Another inhabitant of the moist woods, you might look for Wake Robin along the Greenbrier Road or Roaring Fork. The main features of the Wake Robin are the single flower rising erect over three large leaves.

Wake Robin Trillium with Bishops Cap © William Britten use with permission only
Wake Robin Trillium with Bishops Cap © William Britten use with permission only

The bloom of the Wake Robin Trillium is typically maroon in color, but it may also be cream or white, as below.  In both the picture above and the one below, the delicate Bishops Cap (Mitella diphylla) is rising on a frail stalk nearby.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Wake Robin Trillium with Bishops Cap © William Britten use with permission only
Wake Robin Trillium with Bishops Cap © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Dutchmans Breeches

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Dutchmans Breeches

Dutchmans Breeches
Dutchmans Breeches © William Britten use with permission only

Dutchmans Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) is a unique early spring wildflower found in the Smoky Mountains.  The name of course comes from the blooms, which look like pairs of tiny pantaloons hanging from a clothesline. Look for this stunning wildflower along the Cove Hardwoods Nature Trail in the Chimney Tops picnic area on the Newfound Gap Road. Like many of the wildflowers, Dutchmans Breeches is so small and delicate that it helps to know what the leaf looks like. The photo below shows the finely dissected deep green leaves, which you may have to separate with your hands to find the blooms.

Dutchmans Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
Dutchmans Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) © William Britten use with permission only

Dutchman’s Breeches looks similar to Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis), which you can also find on the Cove Hardwoods Nature Trail. Look closely at the pictures of the two, and you will see the difference in the bloom. The genus name Dicentra is Greek for “twice-spurred.”

As with many wildflowers, this one has a use by humans. Legend has it that Native Americans used Dutchmans Breeches as a love charm, and that a man’s breath after chewing the root would attract a woman even against her will.

Dutchmans Breeches
Dutchmans Breeches with leaves © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Dicentra cucullaria blooms
Dicentra cucullaria blooms © William Britten use with permission only

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