Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Destination Run: Cades Cove

When we planned our vacation in the Smokys Mountains with the Jayhawk's family, I was excited.  Excited to hike, see family, and relax.  But when the Jayhawk mentioned that Cades Cove is open only to non-motorized traffic on Saturday and Wednesday mornings until 10am, I got a little stuck on the idea of running it. Ok, I was down-right obsessed with the idea. Since we were not arriving until Saturday afternoon, I only had one shot at a run on Wednesday morning before I returned to the big city early (due to work commitments).
Just lovely. So peaceful.
For those of you who aren't familiar, Cades Cove is a 11 mile, one way loop in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that is notorious for it's wildlife viewing, specifically bears and deer. It is hands down one of the most popular spots in the park and the traffic can often be a little hairy when the bears are out and about. Having never been to this side of the Smokys, I was curious about what the cove had to offer. We toured through the cove by car early in the week, giving me a chance to do a little recon for my run. Oh yeah, I looked at the wild life and enjoyed time with the family too.
Bears, deer, and horses. Oh my!
The original plan for Wednesday was that the Jayhawk would ride a bike, take pictures of the wildlife, and leap frogging me as I ran around the loop.  But after he suffered a vicious tubing accident in 2 feet of water (it was kind of hilarious and yes, he was completely sober) resulting in a pulled hamstring, a 11 mile bike ride was no longer on the his to-do list.  Instead, he and his brother decided to come along and walk/hike part of the loop, while I ran a bigger chunk.  The Jayhawk was a little nervous that I would get eaten by a bear if I was out there on my own, but I had reassured him that if chased by a bear, I would give it my Salted Caramel Gu and then get in some serious speed work while the bear enjoyed the caramel-awesomeness. Win-win.
At the start of the run.
Run morning was overcast and threatening showers.  Due to the forecast of heavy rain, we decided it was best to make sure we were done before the weather got funky.  Instead of the full loop, I  ran through the second cut-through road (total ~7.75 miles), while the boys hiked through the first cut-through road (~4).  I ended up catching them around 7 miles (like I wasn't going to try and run them down?).  Most of the people on the loop were biking.  I did see a few other runners but I enjoyed most of the loop as a stunning solo run.

Running by the boys at the start of the loop.
The run was amazing.  The scenery gorgeous.  The experience of running alone in the park surrounded by morning fog: fantastic.  If I lived closer, I would be tempted to do it every week.  I did see several sets of deer and one bear off in the distance.  After learning from one of the cyclists that the bear was the mamma bear and babybear had alread crossed the road (which we were standing in), I decided it was best to keep on moving instead of testing her mamma bear instincts.

An amazing moment on the run in the middle of the cove.
I did manage two major running faux pas while on the run (no, I didn't imitate a bear and have the trots in the woods): I wore brand new sneakers and tried brand new fuel.  I guess the running gods were on my side that day, because both worked out perfectly. Somedays it all just clicks.
Catching (and running by) the boys.
What is your favorite running spot?  Do you ever plan special runs while on vacation?

Also, I had so much fun taking the photos for this post, I've joined Instagram!  Follow me: Runningeb.  There is also a link at the top.

12 comments:

  1. I will try to find you on INstagram. I have just joined myself.
    I would be nervous about the bear.
    Yes, I always plan special runs on vacations. It's the best part.

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    1. Definitely find me and let me know what you name is on instagram so I can follow you!

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  2. Wow, that is a gorgeous run.
    My favorite vacation run in right near my grandma's house in Monterey, CA. It is right along the rocky Pacific, kind of near where they run Big Sur.

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    1. Thanks! That must be an amazing run! So fun that you have family there. Good excuse to visit.

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  3. The pictures are really pretty - so green there (it's brown this time of year in Colorado). Running vacations are the best - new places with new adventures! Enjoy! :)

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    1. Absolutely. I love exploring new places on foot!

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  4. We saw a bear and her cubs when we were there years ago. Running on vacation is always fun, especially when you don't get chased by a bear!

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    1. Haha...so true! I love using running as an excuse to check out new places on vacation!

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  5. What a beautiful place to run! No motorized traffic sounds heavenly, I had no idea such things happened. 11 miles is such a great loop. I love all the pictures, makes me want to go. My favorite place to run is anywhere in Montana when I am visiting my mom, the cool w/o humidity is wonderful and who doesn't love new views right :)

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  6. I plan on running that loop soon! A beautiful way to get in some miles for my marathon training.

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  7. Thanks for the great runner's travel-log! Heading to Pigeon Forge this weekend. Planning to run the cove Saturday morning, my first time. Glad to know about the 'no car traffic time-frame' and cut-through roads. Hope to get into some elevation hiking later in the day. wildlife and waterfalls... woo hoo!

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  8. We drove the loop last Friday, biked it on Saturday, and I ran it on Sunday. Amazing. No picture can do Cades Cove justice!

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