Animals of The Great Smoky Mountains [Slide Show]
While this park is well known for its ancient mountains, lush forests and spring wildflowers, it is also home and refuge to many animals. These include more than 60 species of mammals, 200 types of birds and 50 species of fish, to name just a few. such as bear. During the past five weeks I’ve been joined on my travels within the park by a great many of these creatures. Some I met face-to-face along hiking trails, others I noticed watching me carefully from behind a tree or rock, and a few others I discovered while visiting the park’s stables.
Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature. ~ Albert Einstein, 1879-1955
I have just finished sorting through hundreds of animal images made here in the park. And while looking at each image I vividly remember the details of the moment I encountered them—the time of day, weather, temperature, lighting and sounds of the forest.
Each of those photographs also has a “behind the scenes” story that replays itself as I view the photo. The experiences of one day in particular stand out in my mind. It was the day I photographed a squirrel who greeted me almost daily and in the same place whenever I arrived home, the deer whom I was shocked to find standing an arms length away and then stood motionless with me eye-to-eye for a full minute, and the wild male turkey who allowed me to watch and photograph his courtship dance performed for two female hens.
There is also another group of animals here in the park that deserve special mention, the horses. The Cherokee Indians who once lived in this area raised horses here starting in the early 1700′s. Although horses no longer run wild in the park, it does offer riding stables operated by local companies who provide guided horseback rides. As a lover of horses, I visited several of those stables many times, both operated by a great team of caring and talented people from Sugarlands Riding Stables. For anyone who enjoys horses, riding, or the chance to experience nature in a truly unique way I encourage you to consider participating in a ride.
Click to Open the Interactive Slide Show
Because there are too many animal photos to share easily in a single blog, I have chosen nine images made on a single day—that one memorable day mentioned above. While I have met many different animals here each day, this sampling will share a sense of what is possible. Below is a slide show of those photos. Click on the image above to open the show. Once opened, you can then click on a specific photo to view it in a larger size, or easily navigate from one photo to the next.