The delicate bluets caught my eye first. I bent down to rake my hand through the delicate, sensual crop. The incredible four-petaled flower was painted an almost painful pale blue. It was breath-taking. Something so ephemeral had never looked so glorious.
Early May along the Appalachian Trail. The wildflowers were in bloom. As I climbed above the village of Fontana Dam I was first taken with the sheer unfolding grandeur of the range as it unfolded. Later, on reaching the main ridgeline, I would marvel at the views which embraced miles, and the mornings in which the “smoky” in Great Smoky Mountains illustrated itself in a tapestry of wispy clouds which wove among the stoic peaks that reflected the morning light while keeping the secrets of their coves in blue-gray shadows.
Everything was seemingly at once eerie and mystic in its calmness. Hawks threaded the updrafts; beyond that was a Carolina blue sky whose vault is not replicated anywhere else. I’d be lying if I said James Taylor’s familiar tune wasn’t playing inside my soul. I was both humbled by the edenic world I trod through, and proud to claim this state as that where my roots lay. In my mind — and heart — I was in Carolina.
I felt sad for those whose scheduled demanded they pass through this treasure weeks earlier. Had they missed the flowers? I understood why April 1 was the favored day to start the trail; that would put the average hiker within admiring distance of some of the most glorious and magnificent floral beauty to be found anywhere.
The accompanying video offers but a glimpse of the phenomenal floral display which occurs each year in the Southern Highlands.