We will miss the pilgrimage in the Smokies, but went up this past weekend and it looks like the pilgrimage this week will be grand. The large flowered trillium (Trillium grandiflorum),sweet white trillium (Trillium simile), and yellow trillium (Trillium luteum) were beyond spectacular - as good a display as we have ever seen. Bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia) Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) and firepink (Silene virginica) were marvelous along Little River Road, along with the aforementioned Trilliums, Phacelia (Phacelia bipinnatifida), wild white violet (Viola macloskeyi var. pallens), bishop's cap (Mitella diphylla), and foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia). As is typical for us, it took all day to get from Townsend to the campground, so we pitched the tent and turned in after a quick trip up to the top of the hill where we found a few bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) still blooming.
Next day, after a fine breakfast at the Original Log Cabin Pancake House, we hit the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail which provided brook lettuce (Micranthes micranthidifolia), crested dwarf iris (Iris cristata), the three trilliums, trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens), wild geranium (Geranium maculatum), showy orchis (Galearis spectabilis), doll's eyes (Actea pachypoda), wild ginger (Asarum canadense), and a roadbank that was out of this world with trout lily (Erythronium umbillicatum monostolum), squirrel corn (Dicentra canadensis), Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), dwarf ginseng (Panax trifoliata), wind flower (Anemone quinquefolia), Carolina spring beauty (Calytonia caroliniana), star chickweed (Stellaris pubera), wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata), and sharp-lobed hepatica (Anemone acutiloba). After Roaring Fork, we went out to Greenbrier and saw more of the three Trilliums, and wild Blue phlox, plus dog violet (Viola labridorica) and striped cream violet (Viola striata). Next stop was the Chimneys Picnic Area, with more of the three Trilliums, wild ginger, wild blue phlox, dwarf ginseng, squirrel corn, and Dutchman's breeches and most notably - expasive carpets of fringed phacelia (Phacelia fimbriata) that looked like a snowfall. Having seen more flowers that we could collectively shake an armload of sticks at, we called it a day.
Sunday morning, we raced the rain to get the tent down (and lost) and then departed after a fine showing of painted trillium (Trillium undulatum) on the way to Cherokee. A splendid weekend even with the rain.