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Spring in North Carolina: Nantahala National Forest
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Spring in North Carolina: Nantahala National Forest

by Gerald Janauer on May 5, 2009

My wife and I are currently on vacation in Franklin North Carolina - a central hub for hiking in the Nantahala National Forest, and many other wild and wonderful places in the mountains of this beautiful state.  The march of spring is more advanced here than in our little corner of New York State, but the interesting thing is the large difference between the progression that can be observed in the lower valleys as opposed to the  higher elevations.  I had hoped to observe some spring flowers, as well as a bit more water in the various streams, rivers, and waterfalls compared to what we saw when visiting this area last fall.

Our first partial day in the area took us on a hike to Glen Falls in the Highlands area - we were very tired from our drive, and this 2.8 mile round trip was about all we could muster on Friday last week.  The falls and succequent cascades were beautiful, as were the forget-me-nots at the base of the falls.

Glen Falls, Nantahala National Forest

Glen Falls, Nantahala National Forest

The neat thing about the Nantahala is that unlike in the Smoky Mountain National Park (also close by), dogs are allowed on just about all of the trails in the National Forest.  The unfortunate thing, though is that the dogs have a tendency to get bored when we are not hiking, and just taking pictures.  Here is one bored sniffler, my dog Worf.  Our other dog, Kaylar was also nearby.  My wife had to control her own dog, though.

Worf, patiently waiting for his papa to get done taking pictures

Worf, patiently waiting for his papa to get done taking pictures

That was about all we could do on the first day.  We did bite a bit more off on day two, hiking from the Wayah gap up Wayah Bald along a portion of the Apalachian trail.  The weather has been pretty much off an on during our stay here so far, with some rain every day.  This day started out very gray, but we decided we needed some exercise anyhow.

Along the hike up Wayah Bald we encountered three guys who were attempting to through hike the Appalachian trail.  The first two gentlemen passed us like we were standing still - with full packs on.  The third gentleman was a bit less fortunate, and appeared to be struggling quite a bit by the time we passed him about half way to our destination.  He appeared to really need to push up on his hiking poles to get up some steps just prior to crossing a road.  Boy, we really wished him luck - he was on his way to Cold Spring shelter, the next closest shelter along the trail with his 68 pound pack.  The shelter was about 1.5 times farther than we expected to go, and it was already almost 5PM!  It took us about 2.5 hours to hike to the top of the Bald and see the following view:

View from Wayah Bald in Nantahala National Forest

View from Wayah Bald in Nantahala National Forest

We stayed at the top for a little while, but were a little worried about making it down the mountain before it got dark.  We did make better time on the way down, but ended up back at the car at about 7:30 PM.  Not so surprising, as we had gotten a late start.

On the following day we took a trip to the Southern Nanatahala Wilderness and hiked a portion of the Beech Gap Creek trail.  The wildflowers on this trail are amazing.  Dogwoods, two types of trilliums and many other types of flowers were in bloom.  It was interesting to see two types of trilliums in one area.  We do have trilliums in our area of New York State, but I have never seen so many trilliums in one place as I did on this trail.  Here’s a peek:

Pink Trillium on Beech Gap Trail (trail 378) in Southern Nantahala

Pink Trillium on Beech Gap Trail (trail 378) in Southern Nantahala

On the Beech Gap Trail there were also canopies of Rhododendrons that would have been amazing tunnels of plush pink beauty in a week or two, but these were not quite ready to bloom on May 3rd when we took this hike.  With any luck, I should get an opportunity to post some more images from a hike showing Azaleas in bloom in the next few days.  I hope you enjoy these images until then!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim 05.10.09 at 10:08 pm

Found your website when I was searching for some information on wildflowers in NC mountains. I grew up in the Catskills (still own the family farm), lived in Iowa for many years and recently retired to NC. Now able to spend lots of time pursuing my passion of nature and landscape photography. Will benchmark your blog for scenic or interesting places to visit! Regards, Jim

Gerald Janauer 05.10.09 at 10:19 pm

Hi Jim,

Thanks for visiting and sharing. The Catskills are really great as well, but we just had a wonderful week in the Nantahala. Hope to go back there again sometime next year. Meanwhile, I should be getting a chance to post one more installment of NC images. Good luck with your nature and landscape photography! Stop back and let me know how it’s going!

Gerald

Barbara Thorbjornsson 05.11.09 at 4:37 pm

I especially love the photo of the falls. It truly took my breath away.

Gerald Janauer 05.12.09 at 10:10 am

Hi Barb,

Thanks for stopping by! Hope to be posting some more soon.

Gerald

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