The Butterfly that came to Lunch

It was the second day of our visit to the Great Smoky Mountains. We had just completed a hike that turned out to be more strenuous than expected. The hike had started at the old and abandoned town of Elkmont, and we had followed The Little River trail upstream to its intersection with the Huskey Gap Trail. On our way back we decided to take the detour via The Cucumber Gap Trail to make our walk a “loop”. This trail turned out to have some unexpected challenges. There was a steady climb during the first part of the trail that did not seem to end, and we had to also deal with a somewhat challenging crossing of the Husky Branch stream along the way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn any case, we arrived back at Elkmont a little later than expected experiencing some hunger pangs, both due to the nature of the workout that we had gotten that morning, and because we had completed the hike somewhat later than originally expected. It was well past lunch time. In spite of the urge to gobble up some food immediately, we decided to find a place on the road to Cades Cove, beside the river, for lunch.  It was a beautiful day and the crowds had yet to arrive in large volumes in this part of the park. We easily found a place beside the road to park our car, and then step down to the river side to have our lunch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe orange Eastern Comma butterfly caught my eye immediately as I navigated the slope from the road to the river.  Butterflies had been rare up to this point during the trip and this one was also colorful. (It made sense that butterflies were scarce since it was still early in Spring.) As the others climbed down to the rocks to a spot beside the river to enjoy their lunch, I paused. I got some pictures as the butterfly flitted around and paused for an instant or two to rest on some surface or other. I followed its flight carefully.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEventually the butterfly got attracted by the track suit I was wearing. Perhaps it was the color and sheen of the fabric. It parked itself on my blue pants while I attempted, unsuccessfully, to try to take its picture. I even changed lenses, but I was having difficulty focusing on the butterfly at this short distance while zooming in on it.  The butterfly hung around on my track suit through all my attempts at picture-taking. It would take flight every once in a while, but then it would return to me.

I finally gave up and climbed down the rocks to join the others who were enjoying their lunch and grabbed a sandwich for myself.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe butterfly followed me to lunch.

As I savored my tuna salad sandwich (that tasted quite delicious especially after the extensive activities of the morning), the butterfly settled on one of the backpacks that we were carrying.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt kept us company through lunch, and may have even returned to my track suit once or twice to take a look at something or the other.

We enjoyed our lunch on the banks of the Little River in peace, to the unending, calming, roar of the waters slamming on to the rocks, surrounded by the beauty of nature, and with the little butterfly hanging out with us.  I wished the moment could go on forever…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs we were relaxing and enjoying ourselves, I observed a little bird flying from tree to tree on the other side of the river, stopping occasionally to take a look at the people beside the river.  Wonder what was going on in its little brain?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI explored the area where we were relaxing for a little while looking for other things to photograph.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then it was time to leave the beautiful spot and the butterfly that came to lunch.

In The Mood

Many of you know that we visited The Great Smoky National Park in Tennessee during the week of March 15th. It was a great all-around experience for the family.   It was the time for us to get away to spend some “quality” time all together in a quiet place. The girls came home from college for this trip. The only real activity planned was to hike the trails of the park together, keeping to ourselves in general.

We walked the pathways in three different parts of the park over a period of three days. The weather stayed good for all of these hikes, and it rained only on the day we were returning. The three hikes were in three different kinds of settings, with three somewhat different types of terrain encountered, and natural surroundings experienced.  All of the hikes were challenging, with an approximately 2300 foot climb straight up a mountainside to a waterfall called Ramsey Cascades capping our efforts on the last day. Awesome! Pictures of the hikes will appear online at Pbase more slowly, and I may even write more about our outdoor experiences on this blog site, but this posting is primarily about what I was able to see from the place that we stayed at for four nights in the town of Gatlinburg.

Here is an excerpt from the review I wrote for the benefit of the owners of the place we stayed at:

This condo, located on top of a hill, and facing downtown Gatlinburg and the ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance, was a great find for us. It is a quiet location from which you can sit by the window, or lounge on the balcony, and meditate over nature and its different moods from the comfort of your home. You have an unobstructed view of an expansive scenery laid out in front of you. Imagine yourself sitting beside the window quietly reading a book. Having some interest in photography, I got some wonderful shots under wildly varying conditions – day and night, morning and evening, cloudy and sunny. Just a note that in order to enjoy this wonderful experience, you will have to drive up and down some winding mountain roads with plenty of hairpin bends and steep slopes. It will not bother you if you have a sense of adventure. It could be a little nerve-racking the first time, but you do get used to it. (Plenty of people live in these hills!)

All I am going to do in this post is show you some of the pictures I took from the place that we stayed at. (Click through the pictures to view them in their full size.)  I will be posting more pictures at Pbase.

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