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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
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          PHOTOS 34: FIELDS OF FLOWERS,        
       PART 1: SOUTHERN STATES        
MARCH 27, 2006
"The earth laughs in flowers."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Columbines and foam flowers from Day 56 in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

If that saying is true, then one of the happiest places on earth to be in the spring and summer is along the Appalachian Trail when the fields and woods are full of flowers!

I was privileged to enjoy a remarkable show of flowers from Georgia to Maine last summer, and I'd like to share with you some of the photos I took of "fields of flowers"- as well as swamps, hillsides, and woods full of beautiful blossoms.

I'll do my best to identify the types of flowers in these photos. I'm consulting my copy of Leonard Adkins' book, Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail, but not all of the flowers I photographed along the Trail are in that book or other gardening books I have.

I've also spent plenty of time on the internet hunting for some of these to no avail, so if you see a flower I haven't identified - or it's incorrect - please write and let me know the proper name. Thanks!

Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the flower show. This is the first of two parts to this photo essay.


There are several areas along the AT in north Georgia with large masses of May apples but I don't think they were blooming yet when I passed through. The flowers "hide" under the large umbrella-shaped leaves, so you pretty much have to stop, lift up a leaf, and look for them. I finally learned to do that in North Carolina.

The only other large masses of flowers I saw this early in Georgia were little bluets and spring beauties. I think the ones in this photo from Day 4 on Powell Mountain are spring beauties:


I also saw several hillsides covered in spring beauties and bluets in North Carolina, too. This close-up of bluets is from Day 5, soon after crossing into the state from Georgia:

The same day I also saw my first hillsides full of delicate-looking trout lilies:

I probably saw more wildflowers on Day 17 than any other day on the Appalachian Trail.

This section between Davenport Gap (at the north end of the Smokies) and Max Patch was just gorgeous in mid-May last year. Entire hillsides were covered in white and pink trilliums (next two photos), blue crested dwarf iris (third photo), and many other types of flowers. I felt like I was in the Garden of Eden that day.



I enjoyed these yellow daisy-like flowers at the top of Bluff Mountain on Day 18 a little south of Hot Springs, NC:

Another spectacular spring floral show was below 2,500 feet on Day 10 (May 9, 2005) as I descended the last mountain from the south to the Nantahala River. If you read that day's journal you'll see the variety of flowers Lynn DiFiore and I were able to identify.


Pretty purple phlox-like flowers (and lower-growing white and yellow flowers) near a creek on Day 34 just north and west of I-81:

Yellow irises and the same type of purple flowers blooming along the North Fork of the Holston River near Tilson's Mill the same day:


A mix of wildflowers on Peters Mountain north of Pearisburg, overlooking mountain ridges to the west (Day 39):

Indian paintbrush and some purple flowers from Day 50 on the balds around Cold Mountain:



Eight- to ten-foot tall cow parsnips (a relative of Queen Anne's lace) and a close-up of the large, flat flower clusters, from Day 50


Red columbines mixed in with cow parsnips, same day:

Continuing northbound in next essay . . .

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2006 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil