Saturday, July 2, 2016

Andrews Bald and a Perfect Day

Some days are truely magical from start to finish.  This July 1st hike to Andrews Bald in the Great Smoky Mountains with three friends had that quality.  
No one expects to find a day in the 60's in July in east Tennessee!  Nor do you expect to drive to the Smoky Mountains National Park on a holiday weekend without throngs of traffic.  We managed to enjoy both--low traffic and perfect weather!  (It was 69 F degrees when we finished our hike at 3:00 pm!)
We started at Clingman's Dome and hiked the rocky steps, some natural, most constructed for visitor comfort, leading down the slope to Andrew's Bald.  The trail takes you through pristine forest along the ridge edge, lush with native vegetation in various stages of maturity, thriving in the rich forest floor.  
There is something truely magical about the ferns, algea and lichen that line the trail edges and thrive in the shade and water that trickles down the mountain face in numerous places.


Part of the fun is the curiousity stimulated by these plants.  We stopped to take photos of some of them and wondered about their identification.
 Small Purple Fringed Orchid, above and below.

Our ultimate goal was to see the Flame Azaleas on the bald and enjoy the spectacular view.  We enjoyed that and more!
 Above, the view from Andrew's Bald through a rare and spectacular clear atmosphere!
Flame Azalea.

Though the azaleas are expected to be in full bloom in early July, their peek occurred earlier this year. Maybe that was due to our unseasonably warm May weather--I'm not sure how that works--but we were delighted to find blooms nonetheless.


The above beautiful blossoms were found on the shady side of one of the azaleas, showing a variety of color from pink to peach to orange.
The bald was a great place to relax for lunch and I checked out some of the bird activity around us. For the first time, I heard a breeding Dark-eyed Junco burst into song.  Normally I see them in the winter months.  The one below was hopping along the plank path and foraging along its edges.  I also found Cedar Wax Wings and heard a Common Raven.
After lunch, Kara pulled a package of bubble blowing liquid from her pack!  Of all the things I've seen someone pull out of their hiking pack, this was by far the most surprising.  What happened next was delightful.




On the bald with us were two families from Houston, traveling together.  The family members originated from Bolivia, France and Chicago.  It was the children of these families that Kara invited to play with the bubbles.  An unexpected entertainment for all of us in the higher elevation of the Smokies!


After the families started back down the trail, they encountered a bear foraging only ten feet from the trail!  They also saw a deer!  When we caught up with them only minutes later, the children could speak of nothing else.  "We saw a BEAR, and a DEER, and DEER POOP!"  I felt so happy for these children--an experience in nature they will never forget.

No, we didn't even catch a glimpse of a bear.  I'm sure he was long gone by the time we passed the spot!

Links and resources:
Wildflowers
People and places 
Hiking

2 comments:

  1. Sounds like the perfect day, indeed!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh Vickie, your pictures are beautiful and delightful! What a fun and relaxing day you and your friends experienced.

    ReplyDelete

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Your Uncapped Creativity...

Your Uncapped Creativity...
"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action; and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. You must keep that channel open. It is not for you to determine how good it is, nor how valuable. Nor how it compares with other expressions. It is for you to keep it yours, clearly and directly." ----the great dancer, Martha Graham