Shaconage Place of the Blue Smoke
The Cherokee called the Great Smoky Mountains “Shaconage” which roughly translates to the Place of Blue Smoke. And if one visits there the translation immediately becomes crystal clear,even if the extended view from the overlook is not!
The Great Smoky Mountains National Parks is a place of abundant moisture. Large amounts of annual rainfall creates a rich growing environment for many species of trees and under-story plants. When the trees are in leaf the cumulative effects of precipitation and natural transpiration paint a top-coat of haze across the mountain undulations which has the appearance qualities of blue smoke. This haze can persist on cloudless days.
Speaking of clouds, there are days when the highest peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains extend above a low level cloud base. This causes the effect of lakes of clouds when viewed from above. It is a thrilling experience to ascend through the low level fog and to suddenly break out into the sun.
Eventually all of this moisture finds its way into the streams and rivers of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. One never has to travel far very in order to hear the splashing of water over rock as the ever growing tributaries shed water down the ancient stone sluices to the lower land below. There are many waterfalls and cascades in the park that are worth the time and effort that it takes to get to them. However, there is also something to be said for relaxing by a quiet pool in a broad river!
When one thinks about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, two things always come to mind: Mountains and water. They are both represented in the name of this national treasure and the interaction between the two over the millenniums have carved the park into the present form that we enjoy today!