Prior to my 2012 heart attack, I would head off to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park for a week or so of solo camping and hiking. (See here and here, for example) Since my cardiac adventure, we deemed it unwise for solo trips of that kind, so I haven’t been back since 2011. Until now.

We have four “destination” stops planned for our spring tour and the GSMNP is our initial one. Our first week here was spent on the North Carolina side of the mountains. The goods news was that the crowds weren’t too bad for the GSMNP, which can get quite crowded. The not as good news was that our campground, which was large, was packed to the gills with families due to spring break. It was crowded and noisy during the daytime. It was nice to see all these kids running around, though, since we got the impression that these families come back year after year and these kids were being with their “annual” friends.

We did lots of hiking, saw Bryson City, bagged a bunch of waterfalls, and did lots more hiking. Spring was just kicking in and the trees really greened up while we were here. It was interesting to experience the park this early since the views are obviously different without leaves. It was also interesting to watch the whole area get greener every day. It was nice.

Here are just a few shots that don’t do the park justice. It needs to be experienced for that.