The Lexington Newcomers Club hiking group had a walk along the AT from Thunder Ridge to Petite's Gap to view the spring wildflowers. There was a huge variety in bloom and the weather was perfect. A goodly group of hikers and their canine companions joined to get some exercise for our bodies and eyes.
The happy hikers and some of their four-footed friends.
The main attraction was the trillium display. The forest floor was carpeted with the flowers. The picture doesn't do justice to the impact of the hundreds of blooms reflecting the sunlight.
Most of the flowers were pink.
Some were white (or perhaps very pale pink). I read that the flowers start white and age to pink.
This one had dark foliage to set off the pink flower.
From time to time we were passed by serious AT hikers. This young man (they were all men) was walking north like almost all the others. The through-hikers typically start in the south in the very early spring and hope to reach the northern reaches before winter sets in.
We did encounter one or two south-bound hikers.
Another common sight was violets of every description.
There are an enormous number (500-600) of violet species and I didn't try to identify all the ones that we saw.
I think of chickweed as an invasive weed, but this native star chickweed (Stellaria pubera) was quite lovely. The flower was quite tiny.
I only saw one Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum). Its three-lobe leaf gave it away, because the flower is still in bud.
I was told that these were "wild oats," but that turns out to be a similar flower shown below. These are Large-flowered Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora).
These are Sessile Bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia) also known as "wild oats."
Occasionally we would pass a spot where there was an overlook into the valley. The haze compromised the view over Buchanan toward the Appalachians, but it was still magnificent.
Wild geranium (Geranium maculatum) was also quite plentiful.
All of the may apples were still in the bud as were almost all of the bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). This was the only one that I saw in bloom. They had been blooming for a couple of weeks down in the valley.
It wasn't only flowers that we saw. This spring azure butterfly was making the rounds. S/he eventually stayed still long enough to capture on "film."
At one point I noticed tiny yellow-green petals on the ground as we stopped for a breather. They came from this shrubby tree. The leaves and flowers against the sky appealed to me. I have not been able to identify it.
Many ferns were just beginning to unfold.
This beauty is a Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum). It has a unique fan shape with the fronds held on a semi-circular stem.
I was told this was called "Indian Corn." Someone suggested that it was Squawroot, but that particular plant is parasitic and lacks a stem and leaves, which this plant has. It is sometimes called Wood Betony (Pedicularis canadensis), which is certainly a nicer name than Lousewort!
The final plant of the hike was Solomon's Seal or Polygonatum biflorum. The flowers will mature to white from the current green color.
After the hike we drove to the Peaks of Otter Lodge for a delicious late lunch. After all the hiking no one felt guilty about ordering dessert! The picture of Sharp Top and Abbott Lake is taken from the dining room.
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