This is the most visited National Park in the United States. The Great Smoky National Park and UNESCO World Heritage site was the homeland of the Cherokees before the arrival of European settlers. After having visited a few cities we look forward to get back into a national park and do some hikes. We enter the park and we soon notice that this park is very busy. Nevertheless, we head to the visitor center to get all necessary information for our hike(s) and head straight towards the Cave waterfall hike. After a 2 mile hike we notice that we didn’t start at the trailhead and it would be too far to do the full 3.5 Miles (one way) hike, so Felix goes back to get the car and picks up the cow girls on the road to finally get to the trail head. The parking area is crowded. We get into traffic jam. Stop, let me get out – a black bear! A black bear strolls around the parking lot and visitors seem to chase the bear for pics. We finally get a spot to park our car and enjoy the peaceful but quite busy hike to the fall.
We decide to move on and spend some time at the beach – stay tuned!
After leaving the coast, temperatures start rising. The thermometer rose up to 101 degrees Fahrenheit on our way to Redding where we stopped for two days on a 5 star campground with pool! For the first time ever we turned on the air conditioning in our trailer and experienced a 5 star service on the campground inclusive the Newspaper delivery every morning! In Redding we visited the amazing Sundial bridge and did a day trip to the Shasta caves. The kids enjoyed the boat trip to get to the caves as well as the 609 steps during the tour thru the cave;-) On our way to Chester we experienced diverse landscapes and big climbs up to the Lassen National Park entrance. Since there was no drive thru on Lassen (the road opens on June 12th) we spent most of the time in the visitor center (an amazing and super interesting visitor center) getting Mara thru the Junior Ranger program 😉 before heading to Chester. Here, we found a gorgeous campground right at lake Almanor. June 10th is our BIG DAY! We decided to go for a hike (approx. 7 km) on Warner Valley (Lassen National Park). We headed towards Devil’s Kitchen. Mara and Elin were leading the hike until we crossed a family that just spotted a blond black bear! With respect we moved on, each of us a holding a kid watching out for the bear – and here we go – the Bear was approx. 150m away from the trail digging and playing. Slightly scared and precautious we moved on to Devil’s Kitchen – a beautiful volcanic landscape with mod pods and steam!
On our way back, we chatted with a ranger and shared our experiences about the bear (he didn’t see the bear on his way) and he taught us that they never experienced aggressions or any accidents with bears in the park – just don’t surprise them! 5 minutes later on our way back, Felix got surprised by a black bear just a few feet in front of him. Stop! Move back! Just trying to keep an eye where the bear heads to since we needed to pass by and didn’t wanted to surprise him behind a tree. After a little while we were save to move on and continue our journey! We then realized how unique this experience was- to meet a golden black bear just on the same trail, in natural surroundings, looking at each other and observe how it behaves in his „living room“. What an incredible day!