As we woke up on Sunday morning Ashley and I decided to stay an additional day. This would have been our final day but staying the extra time afforded us another great day in the Smokies and a special sighting.
Once again, we beat the sun into the mountains. Still a little sore from the Ramsey Cascades hike the previous day, we opted to start the morning off with the Motor Nature Trail. It was a 9 mile driving loop that had several overlooks, a few trails that lead to falls, a few old buildings, and even Place of a Thousand Drips.
Our first stop of the day was at an old farm house. We had driven past it but I wanted to get a few pictures so Ashley quickly turned around. As we pulled into the parking lot a man was staring off into the woods. We were curious and he whispered something about wildlife. As quietly as we could, we rushed over and peered into the thick forest. Seconds later, Ashley squealed in excitement as she pointed into the trees. I jumped up with a huge grin on my face as I spotted the large bear she was pointing out.
The bear was only a few hundred feet away but we felt safe since there was a steep drop and thick woods. We watched it for a few minutes and eventually lost it to the massive trunks and fog of the Smokies. I saw a bear in Yellowstone last summer but it was just a cub. This bear was massive. It was exciting and made staying the extra day worth the slight expense. The trees were too thick for me to get any pictures, sadly.
The rest of the motor trail was amazing. Watching the sun chase away the morning fog became a theme on the trip and each time, it was unique and worth the effort of an early start. At the end of the motor trail was a spot called Place of a Thousand Drips. I can only imagine the sight in the early spring because even now, the view was impressive. This was not a waterfall but a large rock formation covered with moss and water dripping over the sides. At a closer glance, the drops looked almost like they were leaping all over the mossy rocks. It was gorgeous.
After the motor trail we headed back to the little river drive to catch a few things we missed on our Cades Cove day. We saw two new falls, one was Sinks. Sinks is a small waterfall over a set of rocks that creates a tranquil pool of extremely clear water in front of it.
That night we found a Thai place and had a dinner that did not involve pizza. The place was bizarre, it was Thai, Japanese, and Italian all in one building with each room having its own theme and menu. It was good food for such a strange place and they were very willing to accommodate the vegans. We split some fried tofu, Ashley had some Lad Na and I had Panang Curry.