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A week in the Smoky Mountains

Clingman’s Dome

The trek up to Clingman’s dome was some of the most pleasant hiking I’ve ever experienced. It was about 68 degrees, overcast, and every now and then a very slight mist would past through. The scenery and hiking trails were beautiful and had new sites at every bend.

When we reached the summit, we were higher than every mountain around us. Nothing in any direction could limit our site.

A storm rolled in, and we began to head back down. But not before I took one of my favorite photos from the trip.

This photo captures the namesake of the Smoky Mountains.

Grotto Falls

We decided we wanted to see some waterfalls. As Louisianians, any waterfall is impressive, and Grotto Falls did not disappoint. The clear pools of water and boulders to climb were plenty to keep our minds impressed.

This abandoned water mill was a nice treat on our way out. I snapped this shot of the tread.


Midnight Waterhole

We were lucky to stumbled across what is locally called the Midnight Waterhole.

After a day of ziplining, we made friends with the zipline workers who later showed us this hidden gem off the beaten trail. A cozy little tourist-free waterfall with a pool deep enough to jump off into.

Ahead of the falls I found some nicely flowing water over some rockbeds and snapped a few photos.

I also spotted a timber rattlesnake hiding in the brush.

Lorel Falls

We’d already seen a few waterfalls but we still wanted to hike. So we took the time to check out Lorel Falls. Along the way I came across a few noteworthy sites.

But my favorite part of this hike by far was seeing a mother bear and her cubs. They were so high up in the tree it was hard to snap a photo, but I managed a few just to prove the story.

Cade’s Cove

Horseback Riding

Our horseback riding was a fun and unique experience. There’s not much else to say, so here’s some photos.

Miscellaneous

The wildlife of Lake Martin, Louisiana

I was able to take a much needed kayak trip on my birthday. It was very fun and just what I needed at the time. Here’s some of the creatures I met out there.

Osprey

I always love to find hawks and eagles and other birds of prey, so I was very excited when I found this pair of osprey. 

These osprey or “river hawks” are birds of prey that prefer to nest near bodies of water. I was interested to learn that they’re monogamous and mate for life. This osprey family is guarding their nest in the middle of Lake Martin. I hung out with them for a while hoping to catch a photo of them hunting or taking flight, but today they were taking a staycation at the nest.

 

osprey lake martin
A male osprey watches over his nest with his mate nearby

Female osprey in her nest

This male and female osprey are mated for life

Osprey nest at the top of a cypress tree in Lake Martin

American Alligator

A young alligator sunbathing on a log in the middle of Lake Martin

Most of these alligators were juveniles, but they were relatively friendly as they let me get very close to take photos. 

You would swear some of these young gators are gloating. Or maybe they’re just interested in getting a better look at this weird floating mammal.

We legit have some dinosaurs in our swamp yall!

Great White Herons

The Great Egrets, commonly known as Great White Harons, like to nest around bodies of water where they stalk shallow waters hunting for fish, frogs, and small reptiles. They are creatures of habit and can be reliably found in the cypress forest on the south end of Lake Martin.

Red-Winged Blackbird

A male red-winged blackbird hunting a dragonfly at Lake Martin

These red-winged blackbirds can be seen everywhere in South Louisiana. This time of year you will often find multiple males chasing after a female.

The male can be distinguished by its vibrant red wings, while the female is often a solid grey or black. 

Cardinal

It needs no introduction. The Cardinal is a common and beautiful bird. 

Anhinga

Some people call them snakebirds. Anhinga sometimes put on a show where they spread their wings in the wind. I read their wings work as solar panels to help regulate body temperature. What a bunch of weirdos.

They have long furry necks and black and white accented wings. Like most Acadians, they love to eat seafood.

Other photos from Lake Martin

Mushrooms eat away at this dead tree in Lake Martin

This tree is turning into a massive fungi!

A glimpse of the peaceful waters in the cypress forests of Lake Martin


Contact me to inquire about purchasing prints of any of my photography!
hunterltrahan@gmail.com

First Spring camping trip with friends at Indian Creek, Louisiana

 

As the Earth rotates along her axis, the stars appear to move across the sky. After capturing over an hour of light, that movement appears as the star trails you see here.


My friend asked me to write about my experience out there to make the photo more magical. So I wrote a surreal one and another version that is far more accurate about my time out there.

Laying under a young spring sky with a cool northern blanket. Nothing between us and the great primal spirits of the cosmos. Their teach us ancient wisdom in silent languages.. We lay under a young spring sky with a cool northern blanket.
until wakened by the new dawn

Honest Version:
The campfire warms my face. Until the wind is scorn and burns my face with ash. I move my chair, but I cannot escape it. The smoke chokes me, and burns my eyes. Somewhere in the distance a child screams. A car passes by and I’m blinded by headlights. I rub my eyes and I see light spots. Dizzy, I stand. I need to lay down. Flailing, I fall from my hammock and plop onto the ground. It is dirty. Something is piercing my arm but I cannot see it.

I lay down to sleep beneath the infinite stars. A root of a tree feeds on water and nutrients in the soil as it pushes into my diaphragm. The night is perfect. I jump up in a panic when i realize I’ve lost my keys. I search for them frantically through the unkept grass and pine cones. Oh here they are they slipped out when I fell from the hammock. I forget that my camera is still on. I go and turn it off. I swat a bug. Fin.

Abandoned Catholic School in Lafayette, Louisiana

We went over to the abandoned Holy Rosary Institute in Lafayette, Louisiana to take some photos. The first place we checked out was the abandoned gym.

After stepping over some rubbish, the interior of the gym was still pretty open. The windows were still open and so we had a good view of the entire place. The basketball court had begun to buckle in the heat, and most of the wooden interior was rotten. The bleachers were old and creaky but we could still walk on them.

The equipment rooms were completely packed with old junk, so we left it alone and stuck to the gym which was interesting enough.

Next we walked around the campus where we found mostly boarded up hallways and classrooms. But some of the rooms were not locked off, so we were able to see what time can really do to a place. We found a few classrooms, a greenroom, and some other cool stuff.

There was no way to explore the interior of the school. All doors were either boarded shut or naturally overgrown. Many of the windows were blown out but even if we crawled through them, the bottom floor was a heaping pile of rubbish from each floor having collapsed almost completely. But that was no obstacle. The back wall of the school was completely overgrown with vines and was a sight in itself.

Everything will look like this someday. Beautiful.

Summer Stargazing & Astrophotography in Pecan Island, LA

It was clear skies, relatively cool outside for Louisiana, and the moon was at 3% with an early setting time. A great night for stargazing. So we head out to Pecan Island, Louisiana for some night hammocking and astrophotography.

Saw a few shooting stars but failed to capture any on camera. 

This 40 minute exposure was between some giant oak trees I found in a very dark part of the road along the marshy coast. One shot is closer to the true colors, and the other is edited to bring focus on the oak tree.

 

Took some shorter exposure shots of the stars behind these giant trees. Facing the coastal marshes.

A friendly moth came to hang out.