I made the drive out to the Smokies again with the goal of photographing bears and any other wildlife.
If you don't already know why they're called the Smoky Mountains, it will become obvious if you ever visit them in the morning.
It wasn't long before I found the first bear. But the fog was still out and she was still fast asleep in her tree. She wasn't camera ready yet.
By noon that day I'd later find her awake, as well as five other bears.
The next of which was a big female. I saw her from a very long distance; she had just taken her cubs up a tree and left them so she could get food. I walked about 100 yards to where she was, hoping to see her but couldn't. Before I could give up, I see her come out from behind a tree and walk right up to me.
She's not 40 yards away but doesn't seem to mind my presence so I move closer and watch her as she proceeds to demolish a fallen tree in search for insects to eat.
It was incredible to see her strength while I was close. First she stands up and lands on the tree, crushing it. She rolls it over, picks it up and drops it back down, each time sticking her nose inside and eating whatever insects she disturbed.
I didn't overstay my welcome and let her go back to her cubs.
When I saw the next bear I got excited. It was a small yearling, and only 50 feet away.
I quickly curbed my excitement as I realized its mother was not far away, lying under a tree. Watching me. The cub didn't mind me, but I wasn't sure about the mother and kept my distance.
I am in awe every time I visit these mountains. As the sun rises and gradually cuts through the "smoke", it becomes it's own world in a much larger one.
The miles of nature and endless wildlife draw me in; I forget that I haven't had a phone signal the entire day.