Great Smokies: Just what is a Wildflower Pilgrimage?

Birding with nerds at Great Smoky National Park

The timing was just right for our week in the Great Smoky Mountains. It was the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, a Smokies tradition almost 70 years in the making. We assumed it would be mostly amateur outdoor enthusiasts giving ranger talks similar to what we have seen in other national parks, just focused on flowers.

Trilliums, the most popular of all the wildflowers in the park.

We vastly underestimated this Great Smoky Wildflower Extravaganza. The line to register was absurdly long, and people were nervous wrecks fretting over programs that filled up too fast (the Night Owl Prowl walk is the crowd favorite) and eager to snatch up the last few programs spots. I too, panicked and grabbed slots like a women possessed, if nothing else so as to keep pace with my fellow pilgrims.

Crested dwarf irises on the trail

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50 in 50: Month Three in 30 Seconds

Month Three had us moving through the Southeast, enjoying Arkansas’s hot springs and seeing the world’s longest cave system in Kentucky.  We managed to sneak some culture in at the museum at Crystal Bridges and caught a show at the famous Ryman Auditorium (home of the Grande Ole Opry!) in Nashville. We enjoyed Spring wildflowers and visits from friends in the Great Smokies, after which we dove south and traversed the very long state of Florida. From Payne’s Prairie through Orlando and Miami, I saw my first alligator and romped through Harry Potter world.  But that wasn’t south enough.  We drove the Whale all the way to the Southern tip of America to Key West and enjoyed a week of turquoise waters and learned there is no such thing as too much Key Lime Pie.

Hurray for Month Three!