Hiking Porters Creek Trail!
by Rachelle Siegrist
With soft earth underfoot and walking sticks in hand, we started up the Porters Creek Trail located in the Greenbrier area, along with several friends this past Tuesday. It was a gorgeous spring day with clear blue skies, gentle breezes and ample sunshine, causing cares to quickly melt away, as we walked up along the curving path.
White-Erect Trillium, Large-Flowered Trillium and Yellow Trillium
After being first greeted by a large group of Yellow Trillium, the wild flowers became sparse, but several old growth trees dotted the woods along the trail, many of which I had to hug! Of course there was ample big, fluffy clumps of lush green moss that had to be patted along the way as well!
The tree hugger, two trees hugging and a woodpeckers pantry!
Hiking some distance we came upon a great foot bridge, which was called “scary bridge” by the locals many years ago. The long wooden bridge is a good distance above the rushing white waters below, and changes angles along the way, adding a sense of fun and adventure to the creek crossing! Our friend Sharon, who grew up in the Gatlinburg area, said the bridge used to only have one hand rail making it a bit trickier thus giving it the name scary bridge.
After crossing the bridge it seemed something magical had occurred, as we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by vast amounts of wildflowers. Dozens upon dozens of White Trilliums covered the sloping hillsides, with White-Fringed Phacelia soon joining the show adding even more beauty to the natural botanical gardens!
A little Comma Butterfly rode on my hand for half an hour or more!
Squirrel Corn, Rue Anemone, Blood Root and Dutchman’s-breeches were blooming as well, adding abundant spots of white to the now green forest floor. Bishops Caps and assorted violets also added to this delightful Springtime display. It seemed I stopped every few steps, to admire or photograph more flowers, occasionally finding new ones.
Squirrel Corn, Dutchman’s-Breeches, and Rue Anemone
Before long we heard the sound of rushing water, and upon rounding a bend in the trail we saw there before us Fern Branch Falls, in all its stunning splendor! Ample recent rains and snow melt fed the falls as it caressed the rock face, falling to a pool 60 ft below!
Surrounded by rock cliffs covered in lush green moss, it looked like a scene from Hawaii, minus the tropical flowers of course. I simply couldn’t resist it and immediately started climbing the large rocks lining the stream below until I had reached the bottom of the falls, where I stepped into the icy pool, while placing my hands on the rock face and into the falls! That was about as close as one can get to a waterfall I thought to myself and I loved it!
Playing in the falls and a very rare wildflower blossom!
Giddy with delight while playing in the falls, I suddenly found myself going down and was most grateful that only one leg went fully under the frigid water! Laughing at myself, I got up and went my merry way, while still laughing! Our group enjoyed sitting there in the warm sun at the base of the falls for awhile, while also enjoying a wee chocolate treat!
Soon we headed back, taking the short side trail leading to the John Messer farm site, which includes a cantilevered barn that was built around 1875. There’s also a cabin on the site, which was built by the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club in the mid-1930s, and used by the members as an overnight cabin until 1981. While sitting on the front porch, we met another hiker who actually stayed at the cabin before it was closed for good. Before we knew it we had arrived back at the trailhead and concluded it was a delightful day to hike and another one for the memory book. We took several great photo references for future miniature landscape paintings!
The Smoky Mountain Hiking Club and inside showing the fold down bunks
~ Fresh off the Easels ~
I’m finally able to share a Tandem Treasure commission on which Wes and I both painted, featuring one of our collectors beautiful homes in Maryland. It was an anniversary present and we learned this past week that the recipient was delighted!! Do you have a special home, vacation spot or furry friend that you would like to enjoy as a miniature gem? . . . commission us!
While I continue to paint on my pieces for upcoming shows and commissions, Wes finished a painting of a beautiful rose this past week. We photographed this beauty while visiting southern California several years ago.
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Until next time . . .