We enjoyed a wonderful hike this past week that took us along the Lumber Ridge Trail in the Smoky Mountains. Our journey began at the trail head about five minutes from our house. We started the trail off by noticing that the Mountain Laurel were still pretty much in full bloom and became prettier the higher in elevation we ascended. We also noticed evidence that a very large bear had been along the trail earlier that morning, due to the large logs that had been moved and shredded. Up the trail a bit, I also found a pile of very fresh bear scat and determined after holding my hand just above it, that it wasn’t still warm, but alas was quite new. Needless to say, Wes and I stayed quite alert while walking along enjoying the scenery and each other’s company. Every time a Squirrel would jump and crash down into the fallen leaves, we just knew that must be the bear.
Not only did we end up hiking the entire time without seeing the bear, but also without seeing another person, which we enjoyed greatly! It’s always an amazing and indescribable treat when we are afforded the opportunity to spend the entire day on a hike in the woods and get it completely to ourselves! As we walked along, every turn granted us with an unfolding scene in which the woods were filled with the lacy white flowers of the Mountain Laurel, with occasional bursts of the brightly colored orange flowers of the Flame Azalea. Not only is the Mountain Laurel beautiful to look at, but also offers a heavenly scent, that at times fills the air surrounding it.
There were a couple of unmarked side trails off of the main trail which Wes and I decided to investigate. The first was a very narrow, winding trail that was encased like a tunnel with large Mountain Laurel bushes. Taking this for a short while, we turned back and continued down the main trail for awhile. The second unmarked trail we took for quite a distance. We were rewarded with one of the largest and prettiest clumps of Indian Pipe that I’ve ever seen. Although many times mistaken for a fungus, Indian Pipe is actually a flowering plant. It lacks the green pigment chlorophyll, hence it cannot make its own food, so it garnishes nourishment from decaying matter in the soil. Quite a jewel to see! We also saw a vast amount of Squawroot in the same vicinity. Squawroot is actually a parasite and doesn’t have leaves or chlorophyll. Black bears love to eat this as it makes for a tasty meal.
As we continued down this side path, we came to a open area in the woods finding another piece of the old railroad track and an interesting devise that would’ve most likely have been used for logging. At this point we decided to turn back and continue down the main trail. We took a break to enjoy our peanut butter and raisin sandwiches in a lovely little spot, taking advantage of the perfectly placed logs. Finally coming to a point at which the trail we were on joins others, we turned back and hope to do that part of the trail from a trail head in a different location some time later. The walk back was as beautiful as the walk in, with the different angle of the sun giving it a completely new beauty. Upon our return to Townsend, we ate a delicious pizza at Pizza Hut. A great way to end a great day!
Even though we have been enjoying riding our bikes and the occasional hike, we have been doing a lot of painting. I finished another miniature still life painting this past week and Wes finished a miniature portrait painting of our dear friends Dave and Neli Wagner. In my still life piece, the beautiful glass vase was given to me by my Mom, which she attained when I was a little girl. The blue hat and antique gold metal purse was given to me by my Mother-n-law, hence the title “Mother’s Things”. Other new miniature paintings can be seen on our website as I don’t feature every painting we do on my blog.
We hope to get quite a bit of painting time in this next week and are looking forward to a symphony concert in Cades Cove, in the Smokies, this next Saturday as part of their 75th Anniversary celebration.
Until next time ~ Rachelle 🙂