[Meaning of "Mountain Jedi" at Bottom]
"Mike Maples is more than a maker of beautiful pictures.
"'Jedi' is a reference to his deep knowledge of the topography of the forest-covered mountains and the history of the 'mountaineers', the inhabitants of the mountainous region of central East Tennessee. His roots are in these mountains, and he is deeply connected, by family, to the ancestral people. He can tell a lot of colorful stories about them. Not only knowing stories, but also knowing history and genealogy through serious study, make him a rare repository of valuable information.
"Mike can trek with confidence through the forest, because he has an intimate knowledge of the mountains, ridges, and creeks that define the topography. [He says you can't really get lost; you just find a creek and follow it out (down stream). Actually, the best thing for guideless novices is not to go 'off trail' at all. People do manage to get lost in these mountains.]
"Anyone who has the good fortune to 'hike with Mike' is the recipient of a very rich Smoky Mountain experience. There's even a waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, "Mike's Falls", named for him."
- P.A. Wood
The "Go Smokies" website of the Knoxville News has a section dedicated to Mike Maples with many (more than 900) of his pictures on display, along with commentary and other writings. (The same website also carries photographs by other gifted Smoky Mountain photographers.) CLICK for a YouTube video Mike put together about the "Big Rhododendron Trail" in "The Greenbrier".
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