|ISO 100, f/20, 0.6 seconds, -1EV, 10mm|
To start it off it was the first time I have ever driven into the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park past the Clingman's Dome split off on Hwy 441. Back in March, when I was going to start my trip to my buddy John Deas' house in South Carolina and then on to the Outer Banks, I was trying to figure out someplace to stop along the way to John's and shoot pics. John suggested that I go by Mingus Mill. Mingus Mill is right at the end of the National Park on 441 before entering Cherokee, NC. This sounded like a great idea except I found out that the highway was closed past Newfound Gap for a landslide. I instead drove through Gatlinburg, TN to the Roaring Fork and did some shooting in the rain.
This morning I was going to get up at 3:00am and drive to Clingman's Dome and catch sunrise from there. I just couldn't force myself to get up that early though. After finally pulling myself out of bed at 4:50, I decided I would drive to Mingus Mill since the road was back open to through traffic.
Turns out the North Carolina side of Highway 441 is absolutely gorgeous! Caught some great light at Oconaluftee Overlook, took some shots of some roadside waterfalls, and then arrived at Mingus Mill around 7:00am and after doing some photog'ing there, wish I had gotten out of bed earlier and gotten there in better light. What a great place.
On my way back to good ole Tennessee I stopped at several small streams. At one, when I was leaving, I noticed my second first of the day. There were several Elk grazing in a field just off the road. It was the first time I had seen any of the Smoky's Elk and was very surprised by them. If the setting had been better, I would have taken some shots of them, but the field was boring so I just marveled at their size and beauty and went on my way.
Had a great morning on the other side of the mountains and due to it being a lot closer than I thought will be back in the future to do some more exploring. Until then, I hope you enjoy my shot of Mingus Mill from this morning.