We took a 5 day, 4 night long weekend get-a-way to the Great Smoky National Park for Sharon’s birthday. The main purpose was to spend some time with my sister and brother-in-law. Sharon wanted to shop and knock out some Christmas shopping. I only got to go around Roaring Motor Fork twice and up to Cades Cove twice.
After stopping for the mandatory ice cream at the camp store we started around the loop road drive. Sharon stayed in town, while Deb, Dave, and I made the trip to the cove. My sister is always on the lookout for the big FIVE. Bear, Deer, Turkey, Coyote, and Bobcat. I would add another one on my list of River Otter.
First loop we found turkey and some really small deer. The whitetail numbers seemed to be WAY down from previous years.
Second loop we ran up on 3 different bear jams, but the rangers and park volunteers had broken them up and the bears were gone before we got anywhere close. The park was really packed with everybody trying to get outside during COVID. People are rude and were not using the pull-offs like they were supposed to. FINALLY on the way out, I found a bear, was able to park and got my big lens out which of course caused another bear jam. A 2 year old 250 ish pounder\ He was close to the exit between Sparks Lane near where the horse trail crosses loop road. It was laying down in a ditch behind some brush but I could hear it crushing acorns.
Sorry that was as good as I could do with the light I had t o work with, but at least a documented bear.
Our last full day we were trying to decide between going to Cataloochee to see the elk and chasing black bear again. Sharon wasn’t really feeling the trip up and over to Cherokee and Maggie Valley. So we grabbed Subway and headed to one of my HAPPY Places. Kent’s cove, I mean Cades Cove.
Before we even got to the “Entering Cades Cove” sign I saw some black movement on the side of Little River Road. There was a pull off close by and by the time I got my gear out there was only 3 people watching the bear. Miss Sharon must be the bear whisper. She went bearing with me 2 years ago and had an up close and personal with a 2 year old. Once Sharon caught up to me with her binoculars, the bear had started to move straight towards her.
We were on the side of the road about 10-12 feet higher than the bear. He just kept coming straight at us. Once he got close enough my lens would no longer focus, I knew it was time to go. I thought he was going to come up the slope and onto the road, but instead he just disappeared, There was culvert that ran under the road. The bear went into it like it uses that as it’s own highway. This was a large bear and I would put it at 300-350 pounds. I felt a little sorry for it as the flies would not leave it alone. Watched it for a good 7 minutes and 40 or 50 photos. Never got a butt shot to see if it was a female or a male.
OK, trip was a success and pressure was off as I was pretty sure I had at least one full-frame black bear photo for my blog.
Stopped at the camp store for restrooms and to get Sharon her Ice Cream and we started around the loop. It was early,, maybe 2:30 and usually don’t really find anything good until close to dark. Bear whisperer Sharon strikes again. Brakes light lit up everywhere and knew it wasn’t a deer jam. I got out grabbed my gear and starting walking passing car after car. Sharon drove the car and moved up when she could. It was a HUGE male well over 500 pounds just hanging out on the edge of a field. Once I got there, at least a mile hike up to where the bear was he just started walking straight up the tree line towards where I had setup.
He then got inside my minimum focal length of 33 feet and I put a couple cars between me and the bear, he crossed the road heading up the hill and then starting eating acorns. I would not want to end up on the wrong end of those teeth!
After about 20-25 minutes Sharon finally rolled up to where the bear was, but he was long gone. I’m on cloud nine and jump back into the car and decided we would head back to town when we rolled up on yet another big bear eating acorns. Shot about 6 frames and moved on. He wasn’t doing much, just sitting on his haunches and munching away on acorns.
Man, what a special day in Kent’s Cove!
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Life is good and I am blessed.