1. For the YouTube 4K version follow this link youtube.com/watch?v=_3-Ikaow3EI

    This was our favorite visit at the Great Smoky Mountains we rented a cabin near Fontana Lake and explored the national park like we never did before. Determined to see and film the wildlife of the smokies and hopefully see a black bear for the first time in our life, we drove to Cades Cove although many people warned us it could get busy and hard to film with the crowds. We left early and arrived around 830am just in time to get a glimpse of the morning fog and the deer grazing the beautiful meadows. Speaking of meadows gorgeous yellow wild autumn flowers as far as the eye could see, really wished we could fly our drone here unfortunately it is not allowed in the park. The air and smell at cades cove felt so pure and unspoiled truly a fresh breath of air.After a while driving the loop and looking thru our binoculars Veerle saw three brown dots moving far out in a field, quickly took all our gear out to take a closer look and yes it was mommy bear with her two cubs playing under a tree. Before we were able to hit record they climbed in the tree, there were other people stopping by to ask us what we saw and before you knew everyone was stopping and waiting for the bears to come out of the tree. A ranger arrived and took us a little closer by the tree and suddenly they came out we felt so blessed to see the black bears and one of the cubs even was standing on its two feet to say hi to us. Our day at cades cove was one to never forget and we didn't really wanted to leave. But we still had many other beautiful places on our to do list, like the old Joyce kilmer forest with their giant poplar trees, the stream running thru the forest looked like a fairy tail. We saw some unique vegetation looked like a white coral like mushroom and a lot of chipmunks too. Couple of years ago we were fortunate to film elk at Cherokee so we decided to go back and we saw big daddy again and counted like 17 ladies that followed him. The four bucks that were part of the family couple years ago were kicked out of his group. They got big and probably soon will be fighting to get some own ladies, also saw ground hogs, squirrels even a white one was around.The Cherohala skyway was beautiful reminds me little of the Blue ridge parkway there we took our drone and made some nice aerials on the way there we stopped at one of the most beautiful mountain lake Santeetlah Lake the reflections are so nice and hardly any people or homes around very tranquil.
    Time for a waterfall we decided to go to one of the less famous waterfall Yellow creek falls the little 0.3 mile hike was perfect you can tell the forest is older covered with moss very green one of the most beautiful creeks we have seen there.The road to nowhere is another great road to see many nice overlooks of the Fontana Lake with at the end a tunnel where you can start many beautiful hikes.The weather was changing and we got some rainy days but even with the rain the smokies are so beautiful the overlooks in the national park were breathtaking. Clingmans dome was covered by fog so we took our gear and hiked the Appalachian trail nearby the spruce-fir forest there is the second most beautiful forest I have ever seen.In fact, the cool, wet conditions on Clingmans Dome's summit make the spruce-fir forest that grows there a coniferous rainforest. Since we could not get enough of the Cades Cove we decided to drive back and were rewarded by two black bear families, we got to see them up in two trees next to a gravel road.Three adult bears and 5 cubs it was a big feast in the tree. They were eating the hickory nuts some cubs were sleeping others were playing we could not believe how good a climbers these gorgeous creature are. This trip has opened our eyes in many different ways we hope to share some of it in this video and are very thankful to be a part of the best experience now we now why the add the word GREAT before the Smoky Mountains.


    Clingmans Dome
    Cherokee NC
    Road to Nowhere
    Yellow Creek Falls
    Santeetlah Lake
    Cades Cove
    Joyce Kilmer forest
    Cherohala Skyway

    # vimeo.com/145795909 Uploaded 13.4K Plays 24 Comments
  2. We knew last year after we ended our vacation at the smokies that we had to come back, now a year later we were super exited to drive back. The cabin we rented last year was occupied so we found another one, on top of the mountain it said…they forgot to mention the wild off road with creeks to cross and angles that were almost to steep to drive without a 4×4.So we ended up in a cabin roosa’s nest super nice house with great mountain views after a long day we opened up a bottle of wine to cheers on the beginning of a two week mountain adventure…

    Our goal was to visit new places and hopefully see and film some wildlife, and make more time lapses then last year. On our first day we explored the area of Glenn falls in highlands NC and was pleasantly surprised that the trail started on top of the waterfall, what an amazing view with the mountain ranges in the background. Usually most waterfalls are surrounded with woods and no wide range views but this one had it all…all three stages of the trail had different views very nice. So we drove back the next day with all our gear even more than last year but it was all worth it to make some incredible footage.

    To make some nice fog time lapses we decided this year to go to black rock mountain state park just over the border in Georgia. The park offers many great overlooks so that was perfect one overlook was a hike of two miles it said moderate to strenuous, but had the feeling that was an understatement of course with all the pounds of gear on your body it clouds your judgment.

    Back at the cabin we took Chucky (yes he is still with us almost 15 year old jack Russell now, he also loves the mountains) for a walk in the huge backyard of the house it was more a private forest and the owner had several wildlife viewing chairs in the trees that was an extra bonus. Chucky found part of a skull still not sure what animal but it had some big teeth, from that moment we start hearing sounds around us and saw a deer jump away unfortunately we didn’t have our camera so no footage of the deer. We did see two deer again a groundhog and many birds. With the wildlife chairs in the trees and noises surrounding us, we felt like we were secluded from the world although it was just in the back yard. Veerle stayed one full day in there filming with her canon T3i and told me she could easily spend an extra two weeks just in the back yard.

    One late afternoon we drove to Panther town valley west entrance I had read on the website they call it the Yosemite of the east… so that says a lot. The drive up there reminded us somewhat back of Yosemite with walls of rock only smaller then the real deal in Yosemite of course… that afternoon we only did the salt rock view but oh boy what a view. We met a guy that explained us what mountains we were looking at and he was so kind he even gave us his trail map because we wanted to come back the next day to capture this beauty.

    Then it was time for us to go find some elk we drove to the south entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and stopped at the Oconaluftee visitor center with the mountain farm museum. As we were walking into the farm museum we could hear in the distance a haunting scream no it was not a lost soul trapped in the farm building, it was an elk bull bulging in the distance. It was the first time in my life I heard that sound in real life from that moment the beautiful farm building wasn’t able to keep us there we packed up our stuff to go find the animal.

    We hiked all the trails around the area and had no luck several hours later we drove to a field by the job center located behind the visitor center and there he was Big Daddy as the locals call him. With his 12 cows a real Casanova he was running from one lady to another lady all very beautiful to look at but very hard to capture. Next day we drove back there and there he was again this time they all were grazing the beautiful fields and was able to capture some nice footage. Veerle also captured some footage of another bull later in the day by the farm buildings and is going to make a video with the wildlife and birds from the smokies as well as a time lapse movie.

    We felt so grateful to be there and see these beautiful creatures this was at the end of our vacation. The last day we left my camera at the home and did some sightseeing a long the Blue Ridge Parkway and Soco falls where Veerle made her last time lapse of the two week adventure in the Smoky Mountains. Nature is so powerful to be able to capture a little fraction of it make me feel so strong yet so vulnerable…

    Here are some pictures we took with the Iphone.
    Equipment we have used is the Sony PMW-F3 uncompressed S-log, Canon T3, Canon 40D, Nikon lenses, Kessler motorized Cine Slider etc….

    # vimeo.com/80378374 Uploaded 9,326 Plays 37 Comments

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Sue Hargrove

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