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Spring in the Smokies April 11, 2015

Posted by Jenny in hiking, Life experience, nature, plants, Smoky Mountains, White Mountains.
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Nodding trillium.

Nodding trillium.

Hooray! I saw a trillium blooming today. As I started along my hike, I saw many trilliums that weren’t quite blooming yet. As I usually do, I go up the trail at a fairly good pace just for the aerobic benefits, and then as I come back down I stop and look more carefully and take photos. I kept thinking, “Somewhere I will see a trillium in bloom.”

As I got back down toward the trailhead, I was looking more and more closely among those unblooming trilliums. Surely I would find one at least that had erupted into blossom. Hate to say it, but I did not find it in some remote pristine area. It was almost back to my car. (Could the heat from my radiator have caused it to bloom? Ha, ha! No, not quite!) Actually, the woods near this trailhead are quite pretty.

To take the photo above, I very gently lifted the blossom on its stem and placed it atop one of the three leaves so that I could take its picture. (I couldn’t quite ask it to “say cheese.”) The trouble with nodding plants is that they hide from the camera. After I took the photo, I equally gently placed it back in the nodding position.

What follows is just a typical range of what you see in the Smokies in the miraculous month of April. I am not absolutely sure of all my plant identifications and I welcome corrections.

By the way, this place is not at all one of the famous Smokies wildflower spots. I won’t even tell you where it is (if anyone figures it out, I will be somewhat surprised). This is not Porters Flats with the carpets of phacelia, or Chestnut Top with its amazing variety.

This is just ordinary Smokies in spring.

Rue anemone.

Rue anemone.

Chickweed.

Chickweed.

 

Hairy buttercup.

Hairy buttercup.

Violets. According to one source, there are 31 species of violets in the Smokies. I will not try to specify any of my violets.

Violets. According to one source, there are 31 species of violets in the Smokies. I will not try to specify any of my violets.

One of these violets has a small insect enjoying itself.

One of these violets has a small insect enjoying itself.

Fuzzy new ferns.

Fuzzy new ferns.

Geraniums. An insect also visits here.

Geraniums. An insect also visits here (the left blossom).

 

Violets next to a very small stream.

Violets next to a very small stream. I think the water is more interesting here than the flowers.

Ah! Another one I really wanted to see! A bloodroot.

Ah! Another one I really wanted to see! A bloodroot.

A tiny, insignificant, beautiful stream. There are myriads of these in the Smokies.

A tiny, insignificant, beautiful stream. There are myriads of these in the Smokies.

Mayapples.

Mayapples.

Bee and violet. So much life going on around us, nearly invisibly.

Bee and violet. So much life going on around us, nearly invisibly.

The life of the Smokies is so vibrant, so flourishing, so exuberant in its variety. I will soon be leaving this place for another world (northern New England) where the life of the plants has a very different aspect. There is not nearly so much variety. But it is an interesting story. The plant life in places like, say, the region above treeline on Mt. Washington has adapted in the most incredible ways to the harsh environment. I find that equally inspiring, in a very different way.

Below you see a plant that has adapted to a world where the wind can easily blow well over 100 mph in the winter (as you probably know, it blew 231 mph sometime up there on George in the 1930s, setting a world record). This is rhododendron! Smokies bushwhackers may laugh, having wrestled endlessly through giant rhodo. But here this little guy pops up amidst the above-treeline scree. A mini-rhodo! Don’t think bushwhacking in northern New England is easy. You have that belt of scrub spruce that girds the treeline area. And you have all the complicated aspects of snow and ice, especially the freakish ice formations that you find above treeline in winter.

I will be writing about these things on this blog.

Lapland Rosebay, found on the Boott Spur Link approaching the summit of Mt. Washington. Funny little thing, right? Don't make too many assumptions!

Lapland Rosebay, found on the Boott Spur Link approaching the summit of Mt. Washington. Funny little thing, right? Don’t make too many assumptions!

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Comments»

1. Kent Hackendy - April 11, 2015

I’m looking forward to seeing the wildflowers tomorrow through Thursday — even in the rain! Monday may be dry in the morning, so hopefully I’ll get in my hike up LeConte Creek. If not…well, next time.

Jenny - April 11, 2015

Good luck to you, Kent!

2. Hoover - April 13, 2015

Jenny, Thanks for your continuing blogs. I’m sorry to learn that you are leaving (read it in a previous blog — or was it an email?). I’m a big fan of New England — but I’ve only been there in the summer. Might have a different opinion if I had to endure their winters! Hope you’ll continue to blog from the far north. BTW, I’ve been to Porters Creek the last two weekends. A nice reunion with dear friends… white trillium, wild ginger, crested iris, even a couple of showy orchis.

Jenny - April 13, 2015

I’ve missed Porters Flats this year—but have been there many times for the phacelia. Yesterday, the day after I posted this blog, I did an exercise hike in the Plott Balsams and saw lots of great white trillium, plus some larkspur about to bloom, which I’ve never seen in the Smokies. Nice! As far as winter in New England is concerned, I’ll be dusting off the XC skis and the snowshoes.

3. norman medford - April 13, 2015

jenny, have not read the post yet, but love the pictures; as i want be able to see in preson, recovering from apr. 2nd operation. hope you keep post coming. norman

Jenny - April 13, 2015

Glad you enjoyed the pictures, Norman. Hope you recover from your operation soon!

4. Al - April 14, 2015

Maybe Noland Divide or Juney Whank.

Jenny - April 14, 2015

You’re amazing, Al! Yes, it’s the lower Noland Divide trail.


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