5 May 2007

Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

I love the mountains and like going for long walks. I like to look at the trees, flowers, grass, worms, birds and various other things when I'm hiking. In other words, I like to hike with an eye on nature! I find it rejuvenating and extremely satisfying.

I spent last weekend in the Smoky Mountains and enjoyed an eight mile hike on the Appalachian Trail. Though we had checked the forecast for weather conditions, the cold air of the mountains took me by surprise. Luckily, we were carrying jackets for protection against the rain and it came in handy.

It was a cloudy day and the promise of rain hung heavily in the air. Just as the name suggests, the trails and the mountain ridges looked like they were covered in smoke.

Although the weather was not ideal, we saw many other hikers on the trails. We also met many thru-hikers who were doing the entire Appalachian Trail, which extends from Georgia in the south to Maine in the north, covering a total distance of over 2000 miles! One group had started in Georgia a month back and was hoping to complete the AT sometime in October. I now wish I had thought of taking a picture of their backpacks. Just looking at their monstrous size scared me, let alone the thought of carrying such a thing.

We were rewarded with gorgeous views (even when covered in fog) of the mountain ridges at every turn. Here is a picture taken when the sun came up just for a short spell

The area is home to many wildflowers, and this being early spring I got to see some of the famous Smoky Mountain wildflowers.

There were colonies of Trout Lilies (Erythronium americanum) blooming everywhere and they made such a pretty sight. The graceful flowers droop toward the ground, and the petals at the corners turn up slightly revealing the center.

The Carolina Spring Beauty (Claytonia caroliniana) was in bloom, carpeting the mountainside. The delicate flowers come in shades of white or pink with pink stripes and flowers from March to May.

I also found these Fringed Phacelia (Phacelia fimbriata). A close look at the flowers and you know why they get the name. They were blooming profusely and looked liked snow on the ground.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I found plenty of Bluets (Houstonia caerulea) Here is another picture,

Finally, just as we were completing the hike, I came across this rain-washed Star Chickweed (stellaria pubera)

I'm barely back and I'm already planning to go there again and explore a different trail, maybe see some picturesque waterfalls of the Smokies and of course see more wildflowers!

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