Day trip to the mountains

20130422-221634.jpgLast weekend Matt and I took a little hiking trip to the Smokies. This was sort of a rarity for us, since going to Gatlinburg usually involves pancakes and shopping. We did still include the pancakes…those are great fuel for hiking, right?!

We originally planned to hike the Chimney Tops, but after driving all the way up there found it was closed. Guess Sugarlands visitor center couldn’t bother to mention on their gigantic flashing sign that one of their most popular trails wasn’t open. Our second choice was Rainbow Falls. On the way we stopped at the Noah Bud Ogle trail (previously called Junglebrook).

20130422-222406.jpgAs you can gather from both names, it’s a scenic trail along the stream that flows through Noah Bud Ogle’s homestead.


20130422-222757.jpg Mr. Ogle had a little mill on the stream, too.

20130422-222935.jpg Next we drove on toward Rainbow Falls. But when we got there the parking area was completely full and cars were lined at least a mile or two down the street! Since we didn’t particularly want to hike with 100 of our best friends, a third option was in order. By that time it was after 2:00, so it couldn’t be a particularly long trail. We decided to try for the Alum Cave Bluffs. And it wasn’t closed or packed with other hikers!

20130422-224553.jpgThis is arch rock, about halfway up the trail.

20130422-224637.jpg And the stone stairway inside…

20130422-224706.jpg Getting close to the bluffs there were some great mountain views.

20130422-224751.jpg It was sort of impossible to get a good photo of the bluffs without falling off the mountain, but here’s one looking out from underneath.

20130422-224854.jpg Matt took some good pictures too that you can see here if you haven’t already. Glad he could include a photo of me with a hideous bruise on my leg. I was injured by some milk crates at work…and yes, it’s STILL there. Also, it was too chilly to hike in Chaco’s like usual and I realized that I had no idea where those hiking boots I had in high school got off to, so I wore my running shoes. And diligently avoided all mud and puddles. They fared pretty well.

East TN choir tour, days 1-3

We’ve just finished the third day of our fourth choir tour, and it has been quite an adventure so far. 

We had our first concert on the way to Gatlinburg on Sunday in Newport. It was the first time our choir has ever been televised! We got to the chalet around 9:00 after braving a good deal of fog the whole way up the mountain. Here is the daily photo from our trip that day:


Monday morning the Simmons cooked breakfast, and then we decided to take a trip the the Tanger outlet mall in Sevierville. We stayed there shopping most of the day and then headed back to the chalet in time to change into our concert clothes. Our performance was at First Methodist in Sevierville. The crowd was small, but the concert was good. As an added bonus, Blair and Tasha (a clarinet major who’s now in grad school) came. In fact, they even came back to Gatlinburg and spent the night with us. I don’t think the mountain has ever been as foggy as it was on our way up then; we couldn’t see more than five feet in front of the van! Since there was not much worth taking pictures of at Tanger outlet mall, I forgot to find anything until I was about to go to bed…


We were surprised when we woke up this morning and were no longer living in a cloud! Who knew you could see mountains out the window? Today was our free day, and several of us had decided to go to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Pictures from our aquatic adventures can be seen on flickr! After we finished the aquarium we walked the strip for a while in the rain. Then we drove to Pidgeon Forge for a little more shopping and dinner at Calhoun’s. When we got back to the chalet we got in the hot tub…and didn’t come back out for quite some time.

Matt meets a sawfish


for choir tour. In case you’re out of the loop, our choir at UTM goes on tour once every year. (you can even listen to selections from them by clicking up there in the menu bar) This year we’re doing something a little different. Usually both our choirs go, but this time only our small ensemble, the New Pacers is touring. I think we’re all excited about the prospect of travelling with just 20 people that we actually like, rather than over 50 that we hardly know. Our travels this year take us to east Tennessee, where we will be calling the Trillium home for the week. We leave bright and early at 8:30 tomorrow…better get  finished packing!