Swimming in a Sea of Wildflowers

20130427-hiking-group-photo2.jpgThe forecast showed rain for Saturday’s wildflower hike on April 27, but even with the incoming deluge, ten rain-impervious souls showed up to enjoy a few of Spring’s fleeting treasures. The big rains were coming at two so we put on our water repelling soul-suits and set-off on our adventure.

Off we went into the light drizzle, pausing only to take a group photograph as evidence that we were in fact outside and not identifying flowers from laptops in warm, cozy beds. Ted Haddock and his family generously offered their beautiful property as a place to search for spring ephemerals. Glancing up the mountain, the whole group knew we were in for a real treat! The climb was steep but Josh Kelly, Western North Carolina Alliance’s Public Lands Biologist, always had the knack to point out another cool flower or the call of a bird mocking us from far above when the group began to lose its breath.

firepink.jpgJust on the logging road alone, on the way up to the rich cove forest, (diverse mixture of moisture-loving trees and lush species-rich herbacious layer) we saw too many flowers to count. There were Firepinks, a trillion trilliums, Bishop Caps, Acolyte Avens (just kidding about that one), Gallium,violets, and plenty of the not-so-great, proliferating garlic mustard. We tasted the delicious seed pods of Solomons Seal. We met a Jack in the Pulpit. We met a Jill in the Pulpit and we learned that this androgynous plant changes its sex depending on the living conditions leading up to the plants sprouting. If there is enough rain, and the soil is full of plentiful nutrients, the plant sprouts as a female, Jill in the Pulpit, and is able propagate. If conditions are not as accommodating, the plant sprouts as a Jack in the Pulpit, the male version of the plant.jack-in-the-pulpit.jpg

Towards the end of the climb, the group was rewarded with a nice view of Max Patch in the distance and still, the great rains had not moved in… yet.

But oh did they come! We took a wildflower break to eat some lunch. After no more than three bites of my savory Subway sandwich, the skies opened  up, causing us to scarf down our grub and head to the wildflower Promised Land. The rich cove that Josh led us to was truly spectacular. The flowers we saw on the logging road were only a small sample size compared to the smörgåsbord that littered the cove. By the time we made it back to road, even the best rain gear was taking in water. Back at the Trust General Store were piping mugs of hot chocolate waiting for us. Whaddaday!

A big thanks to the Haddock Family for letting us explore their beautiful property and to Josh Kelly for sharing his vast knowledge of wildflowers and plants with the group. And lastly, thanks to everyone that came out to frolic in the rain with SAHC. It was a special day!