It's hard to believe that one person could be completely alone at the most visited location, at the most visited National Park in the country, but it's true. I pulled into the parking lot at Clingmans Dome to find one other photographer, he was shooting the sunrise from the very beginning of the parking lot. He left about ten minutes after I got there and then it dawned on me, I was alone. I didn't think it would last long though, I mean every time I come up here there are hundreds of people. I kept on shooting the sunrise from the parking lot for about an hour, I got some great shots of the light busting through valley and on to the Great Smoky Mountains.
I decided to start up the hill and see if I could capture some golden light on the observation tower and as I started up I realized I was still alone. It was odd and almost uncomfortable, I mean I had been here so many times and have never had the place to myself. I started to get really happy, I knew I would be able to photograph the observation tower with no one it. As I got to the tower I saw the golden light shining on the side of the tower. It was perfect, I was such a pleasant surprise. I spent the next 20 minutes or so photographing the observation tower and then I just sat at the top of the tower to take in the view. I stood here for a good thirty minutes, just listening to the wind and the trees swaying in it. You could here the birds chirping and as the sun rose higher, the color of the mountains began to change.
After enjoying my morning alone up at the observation tower I decided to head down to the parking lot, I wanted to pack it up and head down to the streams and spend some time looking for wildflowers. I pulled out and started back down to Newfound Gap Road, I was still the only one around. I hope someone else came up right after I left, I like to think a thru hiker along the A.T. got to experience what I did or at least someone else.
For myself, this experience was true bliss. I love the outdoors, I love the quietness, I love how the vastness makes you feel small. Moments like this are spiritual and are good for the soul. This was the most relaxing and calming experience I have ever had here and I had it all to myself and I will always remember this experience here.
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