Photo Essay: A Day in the Forest

First posted in August, 2006

I didn't take very many photographs while we were in Tennessee this past spring, unfortunately. It was a working trip, and it left me rather drained. But now and then I ventured out with the camera.

These were taken on a day in late May, not long before our departure. I'd purchased an older, inexpensive (but reliable) car to use for the three months I was in the Great Smoky Mountains. As the trip drew to a close, I realized I wasn't going to sell it, that it got far better gas mileage than the truck I use in Alaska (necessary during the winter, but hell on the pocketbook), and that I should consider driving it back to the Greatland.

To that end, I ran the little Nissan Sentra down to Neighborhood Services, a great little garage to whom I've entrusted vehicles since I first started driving. They're located across the highway from the boundary of a rarely-used stretch of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so rather than sit around reading magazines in their waiting room while the mechanic checked on the road-worthiness of the vehicle, Sam and I crossed the road and wandered off into the woods.

There aren't any trails along this stretch of highway, but if you look for them, there are old paths that are locally referred to as 'manways.' They're not maintained, but they're traveled, and they provide access along creeks, to old historic sites, and many eventually meet up with the trail system - a time-saving shortcut for the rangers if they need to access a trail for a search-and-rescue operation.

Sam and I took the manway up Texas Creek.

He sat on the bank and sketched while I took photographs.

I took photographs of the creek...

...and of the water in the creek...

...and of moss and ferns beside the creek...

...and of the forest on both sides of the creek.

I also tried some macro shots, though I'd been too lazy to bring my tripod.
Some of the shots came out acceptably, such as this detail of some bark...

...and of moss growing on bark...

And of this amazing blue eyed grass flower.

Others, like this spider on deeply-furrowed bark,
really required the tripod. This shot makes me sad,
because it had some definite potential.

This is a rather confused shot, not at all worthy of print,
but it shows that the area was used in the not-so-distant
past. Here is the old foundation for a bridge that once
spanned Texas Creek, though the forest is reclaiming it.

And, as we were walking out, I noticed this butterfly.
Unfortunately, it is no longer alive, which is why it was
kind enough to stay so still during this photograph.
Even in death, though, it's beautiful, and a gift.