Friday, April 29, 2016

After the Wildflower Pilgrims... Comes the Wildest Flower

Small yellow lady slipper orchid

After the Wildflower Pilgrims... Comes the Wildest Flower


Dana Koogler 

Thursday April 28, 2016


    Today I had to get out and enjoy the wildflowers while they lasted. I figured the orchids would be bloomed out by now.  I was going to do this Monday, but was depressed and just didn't want to do anything.   Thankfully today I was in better spirits.  I knew a walk would do me good.   I had slept well the night before and hit the trail by 7:45 a.m.  I liked to get an early 
start.    I was hoping that an early start and an odd day in the week I would encounter less 
people.  Now the Wildflower Pilgrimage was ovah wit'.   I ain't no pilgrim. 
The wildest flower in Tennessee is me. 

      I went round to various places I had wanted to check on orchids and said a little prayer that  I would get there and find them in bloom. I prayed no one had dug them up.  I was pleasantly surprised to find them all ok.   It had rained last night so the day was fresh and cool. The
forest green was still new and light, but the green was deepening.  The air was perfumed by
lots and lots of foam flower!  


Foam flowers have a very sweet fragrance. Smell one sometime.  It is intoxicating.


      Close up view of single yellow lady slipper

Group of three yellow lady slippers 

            I enjoyed seeing all the various types of ferns and lots of solmon's plume.
The streams were running well thanks to the rain.  The only persons I encountered today on the trails were a long jogger and two trail maintainers.  Only the trail maintainers vehicle near me when I left.  A quiet day so far!  

           I headed out to check some more areas and enjoyed the forest trees that were 
blooming out. Dogwoods are finishing up.  Tulip poplars, fraser magnolias, cucumber magnolias, sweet shrub are all blooming now. They look pretty and smell good! 


            Frasers Magnolia blooms on a low hanging branch on the banks of Little River near my house. <br />
Magnolia fraseri<br />
Magnoliaceae<br />
Blount County, TN 4/08
Fraser magnolia bloom along Little River


Cucumber Magnolia bloom
Cucumber magnolia blossom. 
Magnolia acuminata
  There are several types of native magnolias that live in our area.

Cucumber Magnolia<br />
Magnolia acuminata

Yellow Cucumber magnolia.. Magnolia subcordata 

Tulip Poplar Bloom along Crib Gap Trail<br />
Liriodendron tulipifera<br />
Magnoliaceae<br />
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN 5/08
This is a fallen bloom of a tulip poplar.

    Along Laurel Creek Road heading to Cades Cove I saw great clusters of maidenhair ferns that looked like shelves they were so thick!  Cinnamon ferns and ostrich ferns and other types lined the road as well.  I also saw lots of purple phacelia,wild columbine, and a few sweet white trilliums left.
Yellow trilliums were still abundant and grew in clumps like yellow candles. Some were like perfect yellow Christmas bulbs!
Maiden hair ferns are so delicate and graceful. They are some of my favorites!


    Traffic was light on Laurel Creek Road which was a welcome surprise!  
I got out to Cades Cove in short order. Once in the cove the loop road started off reasonably well. I had a few snags where I got behind someone real slow. I also had a few spots where I had to barely squeeze through a spot where folks parked too close to the road on both sides!  They had volunteers out today helping to keep people straight.  I saw one volunteer calling down a photographer in a field chasing a turkey.  He made the guy come back out to the road. The photographer of course was using the old "I didn't know." ploy.    Another place I saw volunteers keeping traffic moving and making folks get out of the road, and use pulloffs.  It was a nice change, and I appreciated it so much. It didn't take long to get round the loop and once I got to my destination for hiking I went off trail.  
I went back in the woods in a couple spots looking for orchids.  I didn't find any at all in one spot. I did find one lone pink lady slipper in another.  It was still a pretty walk though, and I was seeing areas new to me!

 Great big patch of some type of fern. I don't know what these are called.
 Sea Branch in the morning sun.


Lone pink lady slipper orchid.  

   Once I had checked out the spots I came to see I tried to decide if I could move on with the next part of my plan?  I had planned on driving part way round the loop again and taking Rich Mountain Road out to Townsend.  I had not driven it in a couple years. I wanted to look for wildflowers along it.   I was tempted to give up on it and go home.  I then thought what if the loop and all those people and tight squeezes are gone?  I decided I would chance it. I am glad I did. Second time around all the people and cars were gone! I made great time.  I turned onto Rich Mountain Road and I hoped no one else would get behind me.  I got my wish! I saw exactly one other vehicle on it the entire time.
I had no one behind me pushing me forward.  I could pull over as much as I wanted to see flowers!
The first part of the road was so so, but it got prettier as I moved along.   Once on the back side of the mountain in the shadier, moister coves I saw more flowers!  I ended up not finding what I hoped for. I looked for and found spotted mandarin, but it was not bloomed out yet!  I kinda guessed once I saw the lingering large flowered white trilliums that it would not be ready yet.  


 Beautiful winding Rich Mountain Road
 Large flowered bellwort
 Pair of yellow trilliums


Specimen of Sweet White trillium.

 There are not real significant streams on this side of Rich Mountain,but this is the most water I had ever seen in this little creek! It is a pretty area.
 Clear blue skies.. the view off Rich Mountain Road toward Dry Valley
I saw a bear lumbering along looking for things to eat on the side of the road.  I got a picture of it!


     I took my time and enjoyed the day.  I was getting hungry. I had brought snacks, but planned on being back by lunch.  It had not happened so I  decided to make one last stop at Bull Cave to see what was there.   I would then go by the Townsend IGA and grab something for lunch and stuff to fix a good supper.   Bull Cave was ok, but the best flowers were done. I still saw a tiny bit of  phlox, dwarf larkspur, green violet, and some showy orchis.   All in all, I had a successful day of wildflower hunting.  I got my hearts desire even avoiding most of the crowds and traffic.   It didn't hurt to wait.
I can't cope with pilgrims. I would have to scalp them.  

 One of several showy orchis I saw today. Another kind of native orchid in bloom now.

Dana the Savage scalps a wildflower pilgrim on one of her bad hair days.  She is a heathen.



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