Hiking to White Oak Sinks
By Rachelle Siegrist
There was a chill in the air and a crisp breeze, as we stated hiking to White Oak Sinks, with friends Kit and Pat, this past Friday. Thankfully, there were a few more wildflowers blooming along the trail, including numerous Trillium, compared to when we hiked that section last week. However some areas of the trail still appeared to be stuck in winter! We left the main trail and headed down the narrow winding path, leading to the sinks, and had to climb over several downed trees and cross a couple of streams along the way.
Before long, we rounded a corner and made our final descent into the meadow area leading to the falls, and saw the first clump of phlox blooming, where their beautiful lavender petals, and delightful fragrance awakened ones senses! Excitement filled me, seeing this first glimpse, knowing what lay ahead! Rounding one final curve, we were treated to a visual feast of lavender phlox blooming everywhere!
This is such a magical place to me when the meadow is filled with the lavender patches and I always envision a mother deer bedded down with her fawn in the middle of one of these lush areas. We were not alone on this hike, and while we sat on a moss covered log watching all of the people and eating our lunch, we figured there must’ve been about 200 people in there! Amazingly, It almost looked like natures version of Disney!
However, within no time the people all seemed to disappear, and we had it mostly to ourselves. After passing the bat cave, and walking up the trail some distance, we left it to walk a small path to a nearby sink hole, where there was a mass grouping of beautiful Virginia Blue Bells blooming, and passed the largest collection of Shooting Stars I had ever seen, on the way to the sink hole. Returning back to the main meadow area, we headed for the striking falls, which is comprised of a steam that descends to an opening in the ground below, before it runs back the other way underground, eventually emerging some 3 miles northwest of White Oak Sink in Tuckaleechee Caverns.
We met several wonderful and interesting people throughout the hike, including one gentleman, from Knoxville, who hikes the trail every week. Saying goodbye to the lovely falls, we started our journey back, being completely absorbed in the visually stunning phlox filled meadow along the way! By the time we returned to the trailhead that afternoon, we had enjoyed a glorious day and numerous photo opportunities, and once again made some wonderful memories!
Rachelle and Wes Siegrist’s newest paintings
Wes finished his painting of an adorable River Otter surrounded by water that almost appears to be moving in his painting! We both painted on the first painting in our Tandem Series, featuring our friends Fred and Barb’s beautiful Marmalade cat named “Precious”. I’ve almost finished my miniature painting of a lovely cat, which we’ve shared the step by step photos of on our Facebook page. Currently Wes is putting the finishing touches on a painting of a sheep.