Smoky Mountain Hunter’s Moon

Smoky Mountain Hunter's Moon is on the rise!

Smoky Mountain Hunter’s Moon is on the rise! Photo credit –

Smoky Mountain Hunter’s Moon is on the rise this month. This full moon is often called the Blood Moon, Sanguine Moon and the Full Hunter’s Moon. The native Cherokee knew that the Hunters Moon meant leaves are falling and the deer are fattened up after a long fruitful summer in the mountains. Settlers and Native peoples made plans to stock up on food for the winter as cooler weather takes hold. It was the Hunter’s Moon that helped them fill the pantries.

Similar to the Harvest Moon in September, the light of the Hunter’s Moon made it easier to see game in the hours that are normally dark. This Moon rises about a half an hour later than sunset each night. This rise time happens more quickly than normal Moon rise. The big, bright moon would be in full view as the evening twilight faded into night. This allowed hunters to pursue prey long into the night.

Fields were traditionally harvested and reaped in the early weeks of fall which allowed hunters to see game more easily as they search for discarded grains. Elk, deer, fox, rabbits and other animals could be spotted in the shimmering light of the moon. The Hunter’s Moon is given a special honor of “feast day” in Western Europe and Native American tribes being the last big celebration before winter.

Contrary to popular belief neither the Harvest Moon nor the Hunter’s Moon are any larger or brighter than any other full Moon. Due to the Moon’s non-synchronized orbit and phase cycles, some years it may appear closer or further away.

Some of our favorite places to view the Hunter’s Moon in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are Cades Cove, the porch of Oconaluftee Visitors Center, Cataloochee and Clingmans Dome.

Priceless Historical Heirlooms Return To Great Smoky Mountains

Dan Lawson heirlooms return to the Smokies.

Dan Lawson heirlooms return to the Smokies.

Priceless Historical Heirlooms Return To Great Smoky Mountains. Millions of national park visitors visit the Dan Lawson homestead in Cades Cove each year. Generations of people young and old have marveled and wondered what life was like in the Smokies over 100 years ago. Dan Lawson and his wife Sidney carved out a life in the once isolated valley and raised a family. The Lawson’s passed on family heirlooms that have been in safe keeping with their family.

Dan Lawson and his fiddle. Photo credit - GSMNP

Dan Lawson and his fiddle. Photo credit – GSMNP

Descendant Robin Derryberry from Chattanooga recently donated items to be preserved by the Smoky Mountain National Park in the Collections Preservation Center in Townsend, TN. The donated items include the Lawson family bible, wedding portraits, assorted family photographs and a chest of drawers.

Cades Cove played such a huge role in my family’s history,” said Robin Derryberry. “While the items donated were important to us, we realized as a family that they deserved to be in a place where they could be enjoyed by the public and more importantly, preserved for future generations. We know these artifacts are in wonderful hands and we couldn’t be more pleased.

The Lawson’s were leaders in the Cades Cove Methodist Church. Sidney worked to educate the children of the Cove lifting them up from a lifetime of ignorance. Their home along with several out buildings is found at the junction with Hyatt Lane after passing the Cable Mill historic area.

We are thrilled to have these pieces as a part of the permanent park collection,” said Museum Curator Baird Todd. “It is rare treasure for us to have the full history behind the artifacts in our collections. This opportunity allows us to preserve and share a much richer story.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Bans Backcountry Campfires

Smoky Mountain campfire ban in effect.

Smoky Mountain backcountry campfire ban in effect.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park bans backcountry campfires. Park officials have placed the ban due to recent drought like conditions in the mountains and surrounding area. These conditions sharply increase the chances for wildfires starting and spreading. Backcountry visitors should expect the ban to remain in place until conditions change.

Only people enjoying trail shelters and backcountry campsites will be affected by this ban for now. Front country camp sites like Cades Cove, Cosby, Elkmont, and Smokemont are still allowed to use the fire rings at campsites. Picnickers can continue to enjoy charcoal grills for now also. Visitors are advised to use extreme caution with fire and always be sure and use water to extinguish them. The use of backpacking stoves with pre-packaged gas canisters is currently still allowed in the backcountry.

The park is experiencing abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions throughout the park,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “With little rain and hot, dry conditions predicted over the next week, it is imperative that we reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires.

Finding  drinking water may also be difficult for hikers and backpackers. Some locations that still have running springs have significantly reduced water flow. If flowing, a quart – sized bottle may take over five minutes to fill. The water sources at campsites 5, 16, 26  and Mollies Ridge Shelter are currently bone dry.

When entering the backcountry use your head and plan your route to maximize available water sources whenever possible. If you know you are heading into a dry area carry as much extra water as you can. Unseasonably high temperatures continue to dry out the region and heat stroke is a real possibility.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • Throbbing headache.
  • Dizziness and light-headedness.
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat.
  • Red, hot, and dry skin.
  • Muscle weakness or cramps.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak.
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
Source material AMA and GSMNP

Smoky Mountain Poets

This tree in Cades Cove, GSMNP inspired Kristi to put pen to paper. Photo credit - Kristi Parsons

This tree in Cades Cove, GSMNP inspired Kristi to put pen to paper. Photo credit – Kristi Parsons

Smoky Mountain Poets. These mountains have inspired generations to express themselves through songs, deeds and words. Remarkable words that transcend the passage of time and speak to each new generation. So much so that a Smoky Mountain poet laureate was commissioned in the early 20th century.

Ella V. Costner was honored to be the first and only Smoky Mountain poet laureate. Costner (1894-1982) was born in Cosby and grew up on Crying Creek near the Gabes Mountain Trailhead. After her stint as an Army nurse in Pearl Harbor and Guam, she returned to Newport, Tennessee and published several books of poems and essays. Ella’s final resting place can be found in the hills she loved on a short walk up the Snake Den Ridge trail in Cosby.

Ella V. Costner poet laureate of the Smoky Mountains.

Ella V. Costner, poet laureate of the Smoky Mountains.

“There are moments in the lives of some men, so fraught with emotion and beauty, as to make one weep no matter how often one reads or thinks of them.” Ella V. Costner, from the Lamp in the Cabin.

Others have followed in Ella’s footsteps and we are thrilled to share their love of the Smoky Mountain with you here.


I want to spend my summer days with you.

Lying, just you and I, underneath a true blue sky.
Listening to the hum of the June bugs as we talk about all the things we love.
We can watch the dreamy clouds drift on by as we wait on the shooting stars that will – one by one, erase even our deepest scars. 
We’ll smile as the young fawns pass by and at the bear cubs as they play – silent to the thought our tomorrows and our yesterdays.

I want to spend my summer days with you.

In the hills that I call home, wrapped up in the Smokies haze, among the beautiful places where I roam and play.

Yes, I want to spend my summer days with you, doing what lovers do and dreaming of a love that’s true….

Because it won’t be long til autumn steals the days away and my blue sky slowly fades to gray.

Written by Kristi Parsons


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Smoky Mountain Goldenrod

Smoky Mountain Goldenrod adds to color to late summer and fall!

Smoky Mountain Goldenrod adds to color to late summer and fall!

Smoky Mountain Goldenrod. Of all the wildflowers that grace the fields in late summer and fall, probably none is more misunderstood than goldenrod.  Thought to be the cause of fall hay fever and other sinus problems, goldenrod instead is both an autumn or late summer beauty as well as a healer.  Indeed, its Latin name, solidago, can be translated as “making whole.”

A member of the aster family and native to North America, goldenrods occur in over 100 species and have been introduced to South America, Europe, and Asia.  Domesticated varieties have also been developed for flower gardens.

All varieties grow from large woody rhizomes that form clumps of flowers, typically 3 feet tall with a spread of 1.5 feet.  Goldenrod prefers an airy, sunny location in a meadow or field with good drainage. Its moisture needs are fairly modest, allowing it to tolerate both drought and poor soils, even East Tennessee clay.  Moreover, goldenrod is free from most plant diseases, but can develop rust or powdery mildew in rainy weather, especially if the plants do not have good air circulation. Consequently, spacing is an important consideration when planting goldenrod.

Insect pests are no problem for goldenrod.  Rather goldenrod attracts a wide variety of butterflies, bees, and wasps and so makes an excellent addition to a pollinator garden as well as providing its rich dusky to bright yellow blooms at a time when other flowers are fading.  Some types of flies do deposit their eggs in goldenrod stems, which then develop bulbous galls in which the larvae feed.  However, these galls do not harm the plant.

Native Americans and settlers made a tea from goldenrod leaves to treat sore throats, toothaches, colds, flu, inflammation, and kidney-urinary tract infections.

But what about the accusations that goldenrod causes sinus problems.  This arises from the fact that ragweed produces its pollen at the same time that goldenrod blooms.  The air-borne ragweed pollen can stick to the tacky goldenrod leaves that may even be some distance away, creating the impression that goldenrod is culprit.  So it’s a good idea to keep ragweed far away from goldenrod.  Otherwise, goldenrod makes a nearly trouble-free addition to our flower and pollinator gardens. is honored to have Carl Parsons as a contributing writer. Carl is Deputy Editor for Storyteller Magazine, a member of the Writers’ Guild of Sevier County, TN, and a Tennessee Master Gardener.