The Roaring Fork motor trail is the best experience on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The motor trail is a 5.5 mile one-lane, one-way loop road that could be driven in less than an hour. Instead, we spent the whole day slowing down on this road. We hiked to a waterfall, made multiple roadside stops, explored historic buildings for hours while imagining yesteryear lives in them (Jim Bales' barn was my favorite), and played with fireflies
after nightfall. The above image was shot close to the point where the motor trail crosses over the Roaring Fork stream. While shooting this scene at the river level, I saw many motorists drive across the nearby bridge. A significant few didn’t care to stop – they must be in a hurry to live their lives elsewhere. Among those that paused, most never got out of their vehicles. Windows rolled down, their phones recorded a beautiful scene for their Instagram followers, windows rolled up and off they went for the next expedition across their galaxy of comfort. I wish they knew what they were passing by.
On this day in this patch of the Appalachia, the air was moist with humid comfort of the South and the Spring was busy waking up sleepy rhododendrons. Rhododendrons in this area are not brightly colored; they are mostly white with an occasional patch of shy pink. True to its name, the Roaring Fork stream roars – like most of us – only when it rains inconsolably. On most days otherwise, the stream – like, pampered time – flows gently as warblers' songs. Speaking of bird songs, June is the peak of bird chatter in the Smokies. The audio next to the stream displayed above was a musical cacophony: a sweeter version of the audio in a 1st or 2nd grade classroom without the teacher in it. One can hear many more birds than they can see because of the thick vegetation. Due to this dense newly-leafed canopy, when it rained later in the afternoon, I didn't feel the drizzle on my skin but only heard it in the sky. In the meantime – as you may feel it in the photo – time lost its way, twined in these timeless elements, and slowed down to a lazy water-song effusing from a teasingly-beautiful forked stream.