Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wildflower Heaven

I eagerly anticipate my first visit of the year to the wildflower paradise that is the Pocket of Pigeon Mountain.  I schedule a hike there with the Trail Dames on Sunday, and make a plan to "scout" the hike on Saturday.  It's been a year since I've visited, so want to re-familiarize myself with the route and driving directions so the Dames' hike goes smoothly.  It's also an excuse to spend an extra day watching spring unfold.

On the drive up on Saturday, the rain begins.  From the look of the sky and the weather forecast, this is not a passing storm.  The rain intensifies.  My partner Still Water looks at me and asks if I want to turn around and go back home.  I flash her my starry-eyed grin and say of course not. 

We decide to save the trip to the Pocket until the end of the day, and take a detour over to hike the Keown Falls and Johns Mountain Trail Double Loop.  Water pours from the sky and down rivulets, the streams swell and burst over their banks. I splash through the trail-turned-stream.  Lightening flashes and thunder booms across the valley.  The soaking rain intensifies the colors of the swollen bud tips of the trees, the white of the dogwood blossoms, and the blood red of the sweetshrub. 

Rain drips from unfolding fern fronds and green moss.  Water rushes over Keown Falls, and pours over the rockface in other spots, creating myriad other waterfalls.  And of course there it is-- the most wonderful thing about hiking in rain... TREE FOAM at the bases of trees!!!

In the late afternoon, we head over to the Pocket.  It's still raining like mad.  But I can hardly wait to see what's blooming.  I dart around the boardwalk, flapping my big rainponch and swishing my rainpants in greeting to all the flowers.  Hello bluebells, hello poppies, hello trillium. 

After three visits to the Pocket last year, I have some idea of where to find clusters of the various species, but I am also surprised at how much further along they all are compared to last year.  There are also more trees down, and signs of flooding.  I am astonished at the number of bent trilliums waving their white heads up the hillside.  The rain fills the valley with an air of freshness.  I soak it all in.

On Sunday, I repeat the hikes again with the Trail Dames under an overcast sky.  I am thankful for the break in the rain so that I can take out my camera and because it makes for an easier hike for the Dames, but I am also grateful I got to experience the magic of that early spring rainstorm.


  1. So, I never did find the Pocket at Pigeon Mountain, (who knew there were more pockets than one!) I now have to go back....

  2. Oh no! It sure is confusing that there are two Pockets! Even more confusing than the two Panther Creek Falls, which are at least a good distance apart, unlike the two Pockets. Anyway, I hope you will get a chance to go back to the Pocket of Pigeon Mtn. The Pocket of John's Mtn does have wildflowers too, including Lady Slipper Orchids, but not until a bit later.