Sunday, October 23, 2016

October 23, 2016

I was away from New Hampshire this week, so I don't have any news to post from the lake, but as is so often the case wherever I go, I found myself once again on the water and in the mountains.  This week I was in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.  The terrain, wildlife and plants of the southern Appalachians have many similarities to the northern end of the range in New Hampshire in spite of their 1000 mile separation.  Many of the animals and trees are the same - I saw woodpeckers, heron, water snakes, chipmunks, squirrels, one black bear, and many other species we enjoy in New Hampshire.
Great Blue Heron on the Clinch River

Water Snake beside the Little River in Townsend Tennessee

We also saw one magnificent creature we don't see in New Hampshire:
Elk in Great Smoky Mountain National Park

The young bucks were licking their chops over the females, and then showing off their strength while the females feigned interest.

Practicing their fighting for when they're ready to take on the head buck
The largest bucks just ignored the young 'uns, knowing they would be no problem when mating time arrives.  The closest animal to the Elk in our region would be the moose, as elk have been extirpated from New England for many years, despite an attempt to reintroduce them to Maine in the recent past. 

Similar trees in the southern Appalachians include oaks and maples, and they are not that far behind the northeast in turning color.
Foliage is near peak in the Smokies

One species we don't have in New Hampshire is the hickory tree, and on one of our hikes we found many hickory nuts on the ground, providing food for deer, bears, and many other animals.
Peanut Hickory nut

There are far fewer coniferous trees here, so the hills tend to be more uniform in color, even though the colors are more muted than in New England.

Newfound Gap Road
The picture above was taken at an elevation of about 4300 feet which shows another significant difference - look at the size of the trees in the foreground.  In New England the harsher environment keeps the height of trees at this altitude to 15 to 20 feet at most, and in may cases less than four feet.

Hiking on the Smoky Mountains, one sees many sights that could be found right in New Hampshire including beautifully clear mountain streams.
Stream crossing on the trail up to the Chimney Tops

We also get cool foggy mornings  in New England, but not quite like the appearance that gives these Smoky Mountains their trademark name.
Morning at Cades Cove, Tennessee


  1. Hello Scott, thank you again for your blogs. The photos are exceptional and your mini nature course is a joy to read.

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