The first annual MAPS Remote Meet-Up was held in the Smoky Mountains from April 23-26, 2015. The event, hosted by Christine Foley and Nancy Jewett, had seven additional MAPS members in attendance. Each day was busy from sunrise to sunset visiting such places as Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, Newfound Gap, Elkmont, The Foothills, The Sinks, Greenbrier, Middle Prong River at Tremont, Sugarlands, and the Noah “Bud” Ogle Homestead among others. Clingmans Dome offered exceptional views. At 6,643 feet, it is the highest peak in the park. Wildlife was in abundance as we were up-close and personal with deer, wild turkeys, horses, snakes and, yes, even black bear. We did several rugged hikes for waterfalls and flowers. The most impressive waterfall was behind the Tremont Institute, which was a very challenging hike, but well worth the effort. We saw exceptional flowers such as yellow and white trillium, bluets, and lady slippers. We had a nice lunch in Gatlinburg, which was very welcomed after hiking all morning. We experienced some beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the mountains, shared stories and laughter, and had a great time getting to know each other on a more personal level. A pizza party was held on the last night where we toasted Steve Mayer, who was so inspired by the beauty of this park he initiated the groundwork for this outing. His presence was felt among us.
Looking forward to the next adventure.