I’d been obsessively checking the weather reports for weeks in advance. It looked like I was finally going to have a weather window to get the sunrise shot I’d been envisioning. The plan was relatively straight-forward. I’d drive down to the Great Smoky Mountains on Friday and get on the trail up to the summit of Mt. Leconte no later than 3 a.m. on Saturday. Then I’d simply wait around and photograph the sunrise from Myrtle Point. How hard could it be?

The Realities of Mountain Weather

As you could probably guess from the title of this post, things didn’t exactly go as planned. The weather reports were calling for a clear Saturday morning, with the snow moving in late that evening into Sunday. I knew full well that mountain weather was fickle and unpredictable though. The snow ended up moving in on Friday into Saturday.

Snowy Cades Cove

Why was this an issue you ask?

Well, it turns out that the park service does everything they can from visitors to the Smokies ending up in a bad situation. As such, they tend to close down roads due to snow and ice. When this happens, it makes it rather difficult to get to the trailheads.

Truthfully, the shoot wouldn’t have worked out even if they hadn’t closed the roads. There was a thick blanket of gray covering the mountains. Definitely not the conditions you want to shoot an epic sunrise!

Making the Best of Things

When a shoot that you’ve worked so hard to plan and gotten so pumped up for falls through it’s easy to feel bummed out. This, of course, does you no good, however. You’re far better off with making the best of the situation.

In my case, I simply headed on over to Cades Cove. The park service had closed the Cades Cove Loop Road, but this ended up being a blessing in disguise. There was virtually no one in Cades Cove when I walked it. In fact, once I was a little over a mile in I felt like I had the cove all to myself! It ended up being a pretty incredible experience!

Solo, Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee.

The moral of the story? Just make the best of your failed shoots! Trust me, it won’t be the last time a shoot doesn’t pan out!