It was late August and I decided I needed a few days off from the beaten path, taking some time to reconnect with nature and do a little bit of camping. A favorite habit of mine is to pack up the car first, take out a map and then choose a destination a bit whimsically. I wanted this to be a little bit different, however, so with some minor planning and some coaxing I settled on a visit to The Great Smoky Mountains as my destination getaway and looked ahead to the next few days.

I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived, but the breathtaking vistas of this national park was not it.

The drive from Washington DC to GSNP was a pretty LONG road trip, a 7 hour drive. I maneuvered into our camp site just as the sun was setting. As the shadows of night descended, the thunder started rumbling and bounding all around the mountains, which was not my idea of fun, because who likes to set up a tent in the dark, in the rain? Perservering, we set out to get our site set up in hopes to beat the incoming rain. There was this tangible sense of adventure; we were cut off from the modern world. No cell service, just the personal conversations that don’t happen when phones are in front of us and lost in personal thought. I was excited to see what the world around us held in the morning.

It was a slightly stressful rumbling night, but the rain never came. We woke to this beautiful foggy mist, that this area is notorious for. I was itching to get going and start snapping away.

Packing everything up, I couldn’t resist pulling out my iphone and snapping a few photos. I’m a big believer that you can take beautiful photos with any camera you have, so I try to practice what I preach. Walking around the campground and listening to everyone starting to stir, mingled with the smell of campfires and coffee, combined to create a perfect start to our day.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Heather Long Photography. All rights Reserved. 2016.
iPhone Photo – alway remember you can use any camera you have handy to capture amazing moments
Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Heather Long Photography. All rights Reserved. 2016.
iPhone Photo – alway remember you can use any camera you have handy to capture amazing moments

Driving and hiking through the Smokies was an experience I won’t ever forget. There are waterfalls around every corner.

20160817-dsc_3513
Nikon D750 | Nikon 24-70mm – ISO 200 | 1/10 at f 22 – Hoya Circular Polarizing Filter – Cokin neutral density gradient filter

There are vistas and views of rolling mountains, with blue hazy hues.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Heather Long Photography. All rights Reserved. 2016.
Nikon D750 | Nikon 24-70mm – ISO 200 | 1/125 at f 2.8 – Hoya Circular Polarizing Filter – Cokin neutral density gradient filter

You are transported to a hidden Cove of sorts known as Cades Cove, where the animals roam and play without a care in the world.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Heather Long Photography. All rights Reserved. 2016.
Nikon D750 | Nikon 24-70mm – ISO 200 | 1/50 at f 2.8 – Hoya Circular Polarizing Filter

To say I want to come back and explore this area in even more depth is an understatement. I can’t wait to get back, go deeper into the woods, and come out with my soul renewed.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Heather Long Photography. All rights Reserved. 2016.
Nikon D750 | Nikon 24-70mm – ISO 200 | 3 sec at f 16 – Hoya Circular Polarizing Filter