Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Alarka Laurel Wildflower and Waterfall Hike Summer 2012

Thimbleweed at Pigpen Flats

Alarka Laurel Red Spruce Bog Hike

Dana Koogler solo 

4 miles round trip approx.

Tuesday July 17, 2012

Pictures are here beginning with frame 257

Alarka Photos

Here is a collection of the new photos added on to ALL the other
photos from previous trips over the years.  Starts with the newest stuff.

Videos are here:
Alarka Falls Video
Going for a ride on the buckwild side with the hillbilly gal

The wildflowers for the 2012 season have all been running about a month ahead of schedule even in the higher elevations.  I decided that while it was only the first half of July it would be a good time for me to go check the status of the Yellow Fringed Orchids at Alarka.   I always enjoy a hike there any time of year.  I've hiked it every season but Winter. I would like to hike there in the snow sometime.   I knew turks cap lilies were blooming and I'd see something pretty. I was not disappointed at all.  The orchids are just getting started, but I did see some open.  I figured I'd rather make a return trip in a week or so than miss it altogether.  Long drive.  Moderate hike.  Beautiful scenery.

     I find myself walking with the spirit of Walton Smith when there.  I thank God for creating this beautiful place and I thank him for sending Walton to tend it and protect it.
I hope Walton was a Christian man and is in Heaven now so I will meet him one day.
I love having this place to myself and seeing all the gorgeous scenery, wildflowers, and creatures.  I get out in the fields and woods and wade right in surrounded by it all.
I had butterflies and hawkmoths and bees swooping around me and landing on me.
It was like a blessing from above.  I saw turkeys, deer, hummingbirds, a pheasant, a red eft and numerous butterfly species and several clearwing hawkmoths.  I did not see any bears or snakes today nor any foxes. I saw a gray fox here once before!  I love those.

      I always find myself overcome with the  beauty and the spirit of the place.
It never fails to bring a tear of joy to my eyes no matter how many times I come here.
I drove up to Cowee Bald. I ate a gourmet lunch. I played in the creek. I went four-wheelin in the mud. I rambled at my own pace.  I headed back to the falls through a solitary forest quiet and soft as a cathedral.   I could hear the stream roaring far before I got there.  I'd only seen more water coming over those falls one other time.   My trip and efforts were rewarded.    The forest smelled fresh and clean and it thrilled me that it always smells this way here in Summer.  Good enough to eat. Good enough to bottle and wear.  No other place is like this. It is my favorite of all time. 


Alarka Laurel  in the Nantahala National Forest, NC

Great Spangled Frittilary on Turks Cap Lilies

Alarka Falls in its upper reaches. It is about 200 feet high total.  It cannot be viewed in its entirety due to its size!
Clearwing Hawk Moth and wild bergamot @ Pigpen Flats Meadow  Alarka Laurel NC
Hemaris thysbe.. a clearwing hummingbird hawkmoth.  I saw several of this little creatures. They are amazingly like a hummingbird! They look and act like the blending of a hummingbird and a butterfly!
Carolina lily  Alarka NC

Carolina lily only 6 inches high. I was down on my belly to take this photo. To tell the difference you turn up the face of the lily and look for the absence of the green center star. Turks caps have it. Carolina lilies do NOT have the green star, but are creamy white in their center.

Platanthera ciliaris the Yellow Fringed Orchid. This one has not fully opened as you can see by the closed top buds.
Bog Pond with asters
Bog Pond. This quiet little pond was hopping with frogs today and buzzing with dragonflies and damselflies.


  1. You have some fabulous pictures of the wildflowers... I don't know the names ---so I'm glad that you are giving us the names... Beautiful..

    Gorgeous waterfall. Where is that area? Never heard of that one.

    Sounds like you had a good time.

  2. I found Alarka in my NC Waterfall book... So it's near the Bryson City area....


    1. Betsy, thanks. Glad you liked it. It is in the Bryson City area and the way Kevin Adams gives directions in his book is MUCH easier than the path I took. 1/4th the distance.


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