After hanging out in Asheville and Biltmore, the next stop on our trip was camping in Chataloochee Valley. From the Great Smoky Mountains National Park site:
Cataloochee Valley is nestled among some of the most rugged mountains in the southeastern United States. Surrounded by 6000-foot peaks, this isolated valley was one of the largest and most prosperous settlements in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some 1,200 people lived in this lovely mountain valley in 1910. Most made their living by farming, including commercial apple growing, but an early tourism industry developed in Cataloochee with some families boarding fishermen and other tourists who wished to vacation in the mountains.
We (I) was unaware that to get up to the valley you had to drive 10 miles on a very winding, narrow, 2-way traffic, gravel road. It wasn’t what I would call a comfortable or relaxing drive. There are no guard-rails and there’s no room for error. Drive slow and be very cautious of other drivers.
After setting up camp we headed down to the fields where elk could be grazing. We only saw a couple at first. I got some photos of the old church and school house. While checking out the old school house we finally heard an elk bugle, their mating call. This is mating season and they make this call to attract female elk and challenge other bulls.
Sure enough on our way out, the same field that only had a couple female elk sitting down now had maybe 15 elk including one very big bull. The road was now lined with many vehicles and people. Lots of photographers with big rigs. Meanwhile I’m trying to get photographs on a rangefinder with a 90mm lens. 😂 I was happy with what I did get considering my limitations.
This was a really fun experience and I’d love to go again and maybe stay longer. Try to get some morning photographs with a longer lens. Until next year (maybe!)