From the Great Smoky Mountains Photo Safari

What a great week it was, bringing 30 RVs to the Roadtreking Great Smoky Mountains for a week of hiking and photographing one of the most beautiful spots in North America.

We keep all of our Roadtreking gatherings to about this number as that is the maximum size (it works out to around 50 people) that can interact and relate to each other. More than that means we need to be way more organized.

And since the main reason my co-host Yan Seiner and I do with is to have fun ourselves, we keep the numbers of rigs to a manageable size.

As we try to do every year with the Photo Safari, this gathering was to sharpen our skills in photography, hiking and appreciating the great outdoors. To that end, we had great instructors – Laura Robinson and Jeff Martyka, two incredibly talented photographer who love to share their knowledge and help us all take better photos. On Monday night, retired National Parks Service Ranger Jim Burnett stopped by to share stories from his 30 years on the job. There was also a spam cookoff, a South Carolina BBQ, a photo contests and lots of campfire visiting each night.

But the main draw was the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its amazingly beautiful landscapes.

To that end, here are some of the photos our group took this week:

Sharon Burgess shot this from a spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Woolyback Overlook, about about a half hour away from our campground

Sharon Burgess shot this from a spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Woolyback Overlook, about about a half hour away from our campground

From Mike, one of the many spectacular views of the Smokies

From Mike, one of the many spectacular views of the Smokies

Laura Robinson "shoots" an Elk from along the Oconaluftee River in the Smokies near Cherokee, NC

Laura Robinson “shoots” an Elk from along the Oconaluftee River in the Smokies near Cherokee, NC

"Dirtbagging," or sleeping out deep in the backcountry. Photo from Leanne Czarnecki

“Dirtbagging,” or sleeping out deep in the backcountry. Photo from Leanne Czarnecki

Clouds drift on an over the Smokies

Clouds drift in and over the Smokies

Patti Butkett shot this on the Kephart Prong Trail--a reminder of times past and the people who once lived here.

Patti Burkett shot this on the Kephart Prong Trail–a reminder of times past and the people who once lived here.

 

Laura Hughes captures our photographers doing what they do best in the James Kilmer forest

Laura Hughes captures our photographers doing what they do best in the James Kilmer forest

Jim Blair shot this image of some kids having fun in the rapids of the Oconaluftee

Jim Blair shot this image of some kids having fun in the rapids of the Oconaluftee

Mike and Jennifer's Bo had his own badge (thanks to Jane Dewolf) to lead a group of doggie hikers

Mike and Jennifer's Bo had his own badge (thanks to Jane Dewolf) to lead a group of doggie hikers

Cindy Blair caught a group of our campers on the visit to the Joyce Kilmer forest

Cindy Blair caught a group of our campers on the visit to the Joyce Kilmer forest

The great doggie hike.... Bo, Logan and Dixie...exploring the Smokies

The great doggie hike…. Bo, Logan and Dixie…exploring the Smokies

Just after sunset from the backcountry - by Yan Seiner

Just after sunset from the backcountry – by Yan Seiner

A pulley system for food to keep the bears away while camping in the backcountry - by Leanne Czarnecki

A pulley system for food to keep the bears away while camping in the backcountry – by Leanne Czarnecki

Akari Seiner applies a blister to hiker Mike Daly during the overnight backpackingcampout

Akari Seiner applies a blister to hiker Mike Daly during the overnight backpacking campout

Julie Luffman drove to an overlook off Highway 441 for this shot

Julie Luffman drove to an overlook off Highway 441 for this shot

There was a photo conest judged by everyone, Grand winner was Bonnie Schwartz

There was a photo contest judged by everyone, Grand winner was Bonnie Schwartz

smdaddylonglegs

Laura Robinson spotted a Daddy Long Legs on this leaf

 

Patti Hall Burkett captured Sharon Burgess hard at work looking for the perfect shot

Patti Hall Burkett captured Sharon Burgess hard at work looking for the perfect shot along this mountain creek

Rhonda Phipps' favorite photo

Rhonda Phipps' favorite photo

A Smoky Mountain Picnic

A Smoky Mountain Picnic by Laura Robinson

Bo loved wading in the mountain streams

Bo loved wading in the mountain streams

Rick Herman captured the grouo of our intrepid hikers who changed their overnight spot returning from their trip

Rick Herman captured the grouo of our intrepid hikers who changed their overnight spot returning from their trip