Appalachian Vacation - Foothills Parkway (GSMNP)

August 11, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Another image on my "shot list" at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was a killer sunrise shot. Again, I researched this carefully before the trip and chose a spot on the Foothills Parkway just north of Townsend, Tennessee. The direction and the view would be perfect for sunrise, and I even found a set of GPS coordinates to help me while navigating there in the dark.

The weather called for clouds most of the week we were there, but on one day, it looked like the clouds would mostly dissipate by dawn, so that's the day we decided to try. I should probably explain the "we" in the last sentence. We were in the Smokies in late June. Earlier in the month, my wife and son asked what I wanted for Father's Day. I told them I wanted but one thing, and it wouldn't cost them a dime. Knowing I would be attempting a sunrise shoot, I asked them to go with me - willingly and cheerfully. The "willingly and cheerfully" part was the clause I felt was important based on previous attempts to elicit sunrise companionship from my family. ;-) I sweetened the deal by promising them a nice breakfast afterward.

Well, to make it from our motel to the appointed viewing spot along the Foothills Parkway at the right time required a wake-up time of 3:30AM. Again, occasions like this are what prompted the "willingly and cheerfully" clause in my request. I have to say that, while perhaps not responding with cheerful willingness in the strictest sense of the term, mi familia at least participated with a degree of silence and resignation that, frankly, was good enough for me.

The weather, however, was not quite good enough. Upon arriving at our spot, we quickly discovered that we were destined to be socked in. Pity, really, because the view from our perch along the parkway was spectacular. I took some photos, because that's what I do, but mostly more out of my own resigned sense of duty than from any real optimism.

However, as is often the case with nature photography, simply putting forth the effort to show up in spite of the portents of gloom often brings unexpected rewards. During the hour or so we watched the sun come up - or not come up, as it were - there was precisely one minute - sixty glorious seconds - during which the clouds broke enough for a bit of sun to creep in, blanketing the valley with a gentle glow of warmth. Had I elected to stay in bed I would've missed it. But I didn't stay in bed, and as a result, came back with one really nice image, which I present to you now:

And yes, after we finished, we had a fine, fine breakfast and a half-gallon of coffee at Smokin' Joe's Barbecue in Townsend. All in all, I proclaim the morning a smashing success! 

More to come . . . .


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