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.