Hiking Schoolhouse Gap to White Oak Sinks!
by Rachelle Siegrist
It’s that time of year again, so this past Wednesday, we headed up Schoolhouse Gap Trail to see if the Tall Phlox were blooming. It was a beautiful morning, as occasional clouds passed overhead and the sound of springtime birdsong and gentle breezes filled the air! As we started our descent into the woodland meadow area, clusters of the delicate lavender flowers started appearing, proving our timing was perfect! Soon we found ourselves surrounded by a sea of lavender and their soft sweet fragrance filled the air! We found the perfect lunch spot, a big log with plenty of room for the four of us, and we were delighted to have this magical meadow all to ourselves!
A Swallowtail enjoys the Tall Phlox, Shooting Stars and Squaw Root
After lunch, we decided to hike up to a sinkhole where Virginia Bluebells bloom each year. It’s tricky knowing exactly when they’re blooming, so we weren’t sure what to expect, but were thrilled to find that they were indeed at peak, and absolutely stunning! It was decided that it was a wonderfully peaceful place to just sit awhile, enjoying the beauty and quiet!
Soon it was time to start hiking back, and while winding our way through the woods, we heard what sounded like thumping on a large hollow log, growing in intensity and tempo as it went along. Having an odd sound, it also seemed too slow for a woodpecker, so at first we thought perhaps it was a Ruffed Grouse. But after researching online, we concluded it was most likely a Pileated Woodpecker, since Grouse do the beating with their wings while standing on a log. However, I also discovered that it sounded somewhat like the tapping on a hollow tree made by Sasquatch! Being a huge fan of Bigfoot, I decided to go with that theory in the end, thinking perhaps he was watching us from up on the surrounding hillside somewhere and was tapping out a “Howdy!” to me! We strolled back down the path, and just before reaching the trailhead, we stopped for a short wade in the river, finding it most refreshing and a great way to end the hike!
Yesterday was the perfect day for hunting Easter eggs with our little friend Chance, and so he, along with his grandparents and several others, spent time in our front gardens hiding and hunting the multi-colored eggs. Of course it all started with the guys hiding the eggs, while us girls kept him entertained with bubbles, a favorite pastime of his!
Soon the three dozen or so eggs were carefully tucked in secret hiding places and the hunt began! Chance was having a ball locating the eggs and putting them in his red bucket, but stopped several times to watch the Swallowtail Butterflies that kept flitting above, occasionally landing to drink nectar from the abundant Azalea blossoms! Each time he would sweetly say “Hi butterfly“, then proceed with his search for eggs.
Upon finding them all, we hid them for him again, so he could enjoy the experience all over again. Having worked up an appetite, our group headed to Pizza Hut for a tasty supper and ended the fun evening relaxing on the back porch while enjoying Sharon’s yummy chocolate cake!
Wes recently discovered rocket stoves in a magazine and after doing some online research, built us one, for free no less! Upon using it the first time, we were totally amazed, so he built another one right next to it the very next day! Using small amounts of sticks collected from the woods, it concentrates the heat in one area, thus cooking food efficiently and for free! A day or so later, he built a table nearby to set things on, so our outdoor kitchen is now complete and works great!
Celebrate Easter . . . For He is risen!
~ Fresh off the Easels ~
Wes painted two landscape paintings this past week featuring gorgeous settings from our beloved nearby Smoky Mountain National Park. Just a few minutes drive from our home, we love hiking in this area, and of course painting it for you to cherish and enjoy!
I have almost finished one of my current commissions which I will share with you soon, and started this commission “A Mule Full” featuring four precious little doggies belonging to dear collector friends! As you can imagine, I’m having a ball painting this one!
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Until next time . . .