Hiking To See Wildflowers!
By Rachelle Siegrist
Wes and I enjoyed a lovely hike this past week here in the Smokies! It’s that beautiful time of year again when the wildflowers are blooming most everywhere, bringing splashes of color and life to the forest floor. Though it was chilly when we started out walking early that morning, it warmed up nicely as morning gave way to afternoon. There is a place which I love hiking to where the phlox bloom and turns the forest floor blue, was the destination.
Surrounded by a sea of blue blossoms whilst walking through the basin, I was reminded of a song Wes’ Nana use to sing called “My Blue Heaven”, and felt as if I was in my own “Blue Heaven” standing there in the tranquil forest. When we first moved here to the Smokies almost 18 years ago now, places like this were always quiet and uncrowded, but this location the past few years has seen unbelievable foot traffic due to social media. The flowers have been reduced to less than half of what they use to be, from the sheer amount of hikers as well as wild hogs, trampling them and bringing invasive weed seeds on their clothing which has taken over much of the area.
Because of what has happened, most of the “social trails” have been blocked off in an attempt to help the native wildflowers recover in the area as best they can. With a less than stellar display of the phlox and with most of the area now closed, there was hardly any hikers there, returning it to the tranquil woods that it once used to be. Needless to say, we relished in every minute of the peace and quiet there!
The Wild Blue Phlox were not the only superstars along the hike, as there were numerous trillium, shooting stars, ginger, and many other native wildflowers blooming. Pictured below are shooting stars, wild ginger and the delicate white flowers of Rue Anemone.
We saw several different species of butterflies flitting about whilst enjoying the nectar buffet provided. We were delighted to see a large millipede crossing the trail one point as well!
The moss obviously found the warmer moist air to be the perfect conditions for blooming, and of course, I had to gently pet this particular gorgeous chunk!
Assorted fungi were looking quite stellar as well, and had covered this downed tree with a variety of multi-colored seashell shaped clumps, which I found most interesting.
With many trees still bare at that elevation, the trunks were quite visible. We found this tall, twisted tree most intriguing, wondering what caused it to grow this way and I thought the other gnarly, bent Rhododendron trunk greatly resembled one of the creatures found at the cantina in Star Wars!
Needless to say, it was a splendid day indeed, as any day spent in the woods or on the water is to me, and I came home feeling quite refreshed!
~ Fresh Off The Easel ~
Wes has put in numerous hours once again this past week while working on the SAA entries for the upcoming jury and board meeting in Chicago next month. I’ve continued painting on my commission, which is a miniature after Alred Usher Soord’s painting from the late 1800s, “The Good Shepherd“. I’m still having fun with this one and will share it with you once it’s finished.
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Celebrating Easter . . . For He Has Risen!