Bucket lists. Creepy and unattainable, or optimistic reminder to live life to its fullest? I don’t personally have a formal one, but I certainly have ideas about things I’d like to do. This spring, I did one:My husband and I biked the loop at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park! During the spring and summer, the park shuts down the 11 mile auto loop that winds through the cove to all motorized traffic twice a week for about 3 hours in the mornings. For those precious hours, only pedestrians and bicyclists are allowed. We got up very early, rented bikes, and biked it on the first day it was closed to cars during the 2014 season. It was awesome.
With views like this, it’s easy to see why the auto loop is very popular. During high season, the one-way road through the cove often resembles a parking lot with cars inching along it, lined up bumper-to-bumper. Which sounds miserable, but even with all of that, I’ve always managed to see a stunning variety of wildlife the times I’ve been viewing the cove from a car. There are old homes, churches, and barns from back when folks lived in the cove that can be toured, and there are plenty of places to park so you can access the several trail heads found along the loop at various points.
But from a bike? What a difference! It was so peaceful and beautiful. We saw several black bears, lots of deer, wild turkeys, and heard so many song birds. It was just magical, biking along as the fog that gives the mountains their name began to clear.