Julie and I and the boys headed west for the weekend to celebrate another wonderful year together.
Woke up in the morning to the sound of thunder, with a wealth of warblers in the lead.
Headed up the parkway in spite of the rain, and found a "trail" that was not maintained. Deptford pinks and daisies were a few of the flowers that served as guides.
Looking back down the "trail" at the rest of the crew...
Thanks to the little locust tree, Jay's discovered that more things than blackberries have thorns!
From locusts to lichens to lilies, life abounds in the mountain rain.
Gorgeous from any angle, the many lovely faces of Michaux's lilies and the taller Turk's Caps present a composition challenge for the photographer. We hope you get the idea...
Trillium's blossoms have faded along with spring, but the fruit remain.
A few crushed leaves confirm this is one of the several mountain mints, but we're left to wonder which...
Pale jewel-weed, or touch-me-not, abounds along both trail and roadside, equaled in abundance only by its orange sister.
Arriving on top of the world, Jay enjoys a bevy of blueberries while Hunter ponders the view (or perhaps catches up on a few texts!)
Multiple varieties of blueberries were approaching their peak.
Foraging at its best.
More tasty treats for the tired hikers.
A quick breather, while the rain regroups...
More cool natives; the sight and scent of wintergreen conjures memories of countless packs of childhood chewing gum.
More lovely blossoms to lift the soul. Lovely as she looks, this is most likely the very scarce and poisonous "Death Camas," Stenanthium leimanthoides, which is found in these mountaintop heath balds in only two North Carolina counties, Avery and Watauga.
The view from here is simply awe-inspiring (and the mountains are lovely as well)!
More fascinating flora, fiercely forging a fragile foothold from tiny fragments of the mountain itself.
Here, high atop North Carolina, dozens of species thrive in the face of every challenge the elements can mount.
Speaking of the elements, more rain is on the way, so we less-hardy souls begin to plot our exit route.
More encounters with cool flora in the understory of the forested slopes as we descend...
More fruit ripen where spring's flowers once danced.
And summer's flowers gently sway in the misty breeze.
Hunter and his phone pay homage to the towering Turk's caps along with the chest-high milkweed, as the day draws to a close.
Woke up this morning to the sound of thunder...