What a delight to the senses, to leave the noise & hustle of everyday life & take that first step onto the trail, immediately being surrounded by total peace & quiet. Now, the only things you hear are the song of the wood thrush, as it hangs in the heavy morning air, & a small stream cascading slowly in the distance. As the morning passes, the air becomes lighter & is filled with a delightful breeze that plays its own melody as it blows through the trees. Wes & I only passed one family on our way two the falls, which is about 2.1 miles. The remaining time, we had the peaceful sounds of the forest completely to ourselves. We reached the falls around 11 am, which was perfect timing for lunch. We were blessed to have the falls to ourselves as we ate our peanut butter & raisin sandwiches ( I learned this recipe from my grandpa ), & two pieces of dark chocolate. . . very yummy indeed! After lunch we explored a solid rock cliff wall with veins of quartz running beautiful patterns all through it. There was a small cave close to the top that only allowed observation from a distance.
Wes on the rock wall next to the falls.
Rachelle standing in front of Hen wallow falls
We then chose to continue up the trail, heading towards a stand of virgin trees. One feels so small standing amidst these beautiful old men of the forest! I end up hugging several, as I can hardly pass up the opportunity to show my affection & respect for these old giants! Yes, I’m literally a tree hugger 🙂 It’s amazing to think that one of these magnificent trees represents an entire universe to its insect inhabitants. It’s always quite challenging as a miniature artist to capture the feeling & incredible size of trees, such as these or vast landscapes in our miniature paintings. Several incredible species of mushrooms were also seen along the trail, as were the glimpses of a critter running off in the woods periodically.
Rachelle hugging a tree 🙂
A very tall tulip poplar
After hiking a couple of miles further, & reluctantly deciding it best to turn around & start heading back, we heard a much larger crashing noise in the woods ahead. Slowly creeping forward, we could see a good sized black bear eating what is known as squaw root. It has this name, from the roots being ground up & used by the Cherokee Indians, in the past. We’ve seen squaw root several times & know that bears like it, but this was the first time we were fortunate enough to see them eating it, & as you can imagine, the idea of another miniature painting is birthed. The remainder of the hike was filled with the songs of several birds including the Black-throated Blue Warbler, as well as so many others playing along with the sound of the gentle afternoon breeze blowing through the trees. A nice sighting of a Hooded Warbler was an added treat. I can assure you that this wonderful day will result in a couple of miniature paintings. A great birthday hike indeed. ~ Rachelle