Yellow lady slippers and other yellow things May 20, 2013Posted by Jenny in nature, photography, plants, Southern Appalachians.
Tags: azalea, bluets, cinquefoil, Fisher Creek, fleabane, golden alexander, lousewort, Plott Balsams, roundleaf ragwort, yellow lady slippers
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Lady slippers—lovely, bizarre, delicate, bold, faintly tropical, somehow sexual. A plant of contradictions.
I’ve seen pink lady slippers every spring, whether up in New England or in the southern Appalachians. I hadn’t seen the yellow ones for years. I never made a special pilgrimage to find them in places they’re known to live, like White Oak Sinks. I just kept taking my walks in the spring, knowing I’d see them sooner or later. I found two clumps of them today in the Plott Balsams.
“The conspicuous slipperlike pouch formed by the lower petal is a trap for capturing bees, which are released only after being coated with pollen. American Indians used the roots of these plants, as did 19th century physicians, for many types of nervous ailments such as hysteria, insomnia, and premenstrual syndrome.” —Appalachian Wildflowers, Thomas E. Hemmerly.
I enjoyed the color yellow in other things I saw today.
Shapes of spring May 11, 2013Posted by Jenny in nature, photography, plants, Smoky Mountains.
Tags: Foamflower, phlox, showy orchis, violets, squaw root, lousewort, trillium erectum, painted trillium, umbrella leaf, meadow rue, serviceberry, saxifrage
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Photos taken yesterday near Will Branch, Smith Branch, and Kanati Fork trail.
Waterfall on East Fork of Fisher Creek November 20, 2012Posted by Jenny in hiking, nature, photography.
Tags: East Fork trail, Fisher Creek, Plott Balsams
In the summer, you can hear the tantalizing roar of this waterfall from the East Fork trail in the Plott Balsams near Sylva, NC—but you can just barely make out its flowing line of water through the trees. Once you scrabble up the last tough little rubbly pitch on the trail’s most demoralizing section (600′ in a third of a mile), you will see a rough, unmarked side path that drops to the stream. But it goes to the top of the waterfall, not the bottom, and what you see is water plunging over an edge. To get even the slightest view of the fall itself from that point, you need to hang onto a tree and lean out. It’s a bit dangerous.
In the winter, you can see more of the falls from the trail. But with the leaves down, it also becomes obvious that you can make a short, painless bushwhack to the bottom. I visited the falls by this route the other day.
I climbed up the trail, passing between what I call the “Rocks of Discouragement.” This is a spot where you’ve just done a steep climb, it almost levels off for a bit and you think life’s about to get easier, and then you look up and see it gets even steeper.
You see the water cascading down for hundreds of feet. This waterfall doesn’t ever really bottom out. Below the biggest drop, there are smaller drops going down and down the stream valley a long ways.
At a shoulder on the slope, you will see a place where you can contour around to the stream through open woods.