I hadn't even been considering doing part of the DRT. The plan was for a relaxing trip with friends along the Chattooga. However, rain and thunderstorms were predicted so (surprise!) my friends opted to stay home. It was a good opportunity to give this trail another chance.
I hadn't heard anything about the scenery on the DRT, only about its difficulty, so I was blown away by the stunning wildflowers. Hillsides bursting with blossoms and rare jewels like the yellow ladyslipper orchid. I can't imagine I could have timed it better to see more floral diversity or abundance. Light rain only served to intensify the vibrant colors, though the thunderstorms... well, I'll get to that later.
|Yellow ladyslipper orchid along the DRT.|
|Trillium were especially abundant and diverse.|
|Huge patch of pink lady slippers- and I'm not exaggerating-- more than I've ever seen my entire life combined.|
|Lovely, lovely ladyslippers.|
|Narrow tread of the DRT.|
|There was even a view from Akin Mountain, which made the climb very worthwhile.|
read about it, but I was thrilled I found it. I carefully positioned my hammock so that I'd be protected from wind, and enjoyed the evening sitting in a chair watching the dark clouds rolling over the field.
|A chair, shelter, and field- what a luxurious campsite!|
In the early morning, I considered my options, consulted maps, and texted with my friend. Surprise- I had cell service! yay! And surprise, more storms were in the forecast. Boo! But, there is a FS road that stays at lower elevation than the Duncan Ridge Trail, and mostly parallels it, so I decided to hike as fast as I could over West Wildcat Knob and Buck Knob, and then pick up the Duncan Ridge Road back to Wolfpen Gap.
I never liked roadwalking before, but it proved surprisingly scenic. I saw flowers I hadn't seen up on the ridge including wild comfry, showy orchis, and wood betony. Even more incredible were the lovely hillside of wild geranium, another hillside with dense solomon's plume, and yet another of blue-cohosh.
|Roadwalking was surprisingly nice- especially since I like wildflowers... and mud and puddle-jumping.|
Sosebee Cove, one of the top wildflower areas in Georgia, is a rich, moist north-slope cove forest harboring enormous yellow buckeye trees and tuliptrees (the area hasn't been logged since 1903). I saw lots more wildflowers, many of which were different than I'd seen either up at high elevation on the DRT or along the FS road. I'll definitely be making a return trip.
|Sweet white trillium at Sosebee Cove|