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.
In 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.
The 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.
Eventually 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.
The 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.
It 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…
As 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?
I explored the area where we were relaxing for a little while looking for other things to photograph.
And then it was time to leave the beautiful spot and the butterfly that came to lunch.