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Old Jun 16, 2011, 9:12 PM   #1
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Default Rhododendron Season at Roan Mountain

Roan Mountain is right on the Tennessee/North Carolina border. There's a lovely State Park about halfway up the mountain, but most of the high country is National Forest. It's a great place for a hike at any time of year, but all my family always looks forward to Rhododendron season - mid June.

So last Saturday we planned a family hike from Carver's Gap out to Grassy Ridge. It was a bright sunny day - great for hiking, almost too bright for good photographs. At first there was still a bit of mist and fog in the meadows...
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Old Jun 16, 2011, 9:14 PM   #2
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Roan is rich in amazing plant diversity, and rich in mountain views. These ferns were still wet with the heavy dew, soon to be evaporated by the abundant mt. sun!
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Old Jun 16, 2011, 9:16 PM   #3
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Complex high-elevation cloud patterns soon gave way to the power of the rising sun...
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Old Jun 16, 2011, 9:18 PM   #4
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And we enjoyed great views of the wave upon wave of mountains & ridges...
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Old Jun 16, 2011, 9:22 PM   #5
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Flame Azaleas in varied shades of yellow, orange and red were at peak bloom, especially around the Round Bald area.
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Old Jun 16, 2011, 9:24 PM   #6
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Tiger Swallowtails were enjoying the Azalea nectar.
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Old Jun 16, 2011, 9:26 PM   #7
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There are many rare plants at the highlands of the Roan. One favorite is Gray's Lily - endemic to the southern Appalachian highlands. Gray's Lily usually blooms later than the azaleas and rhodos. Most were just budding last weekend, but we did find a few plants already in bloom.
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Old Jun 16, 2011, 9:32 PM   #8
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And then there are the Rhododendrons...
Roan is famous for very abundant Catawba Rhododendrons. In fact, this coming weekend (June 18-19) is the 54th annual Rhododendron Festival!
Last year was a rather sparse year for the rhodo blooms - even the prettiest shrubs need to rest sometimes... So we were hoping for a good display this year. And we were not disappointed!
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Old Jun 16, 2011, 9:37 PM   #9
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As expected, the best display - most abundant and colorful - was at Grassy Ridge. This side path off the main trail (Appalachian Trail) was full of bloom (and full of people enjoying them too!)
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Old Jun 16, 2011, 9:42 PM   #10
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Hike back down was full of family fun, but not of photography...

Hope you enjoyed this mountain hike, and that you will get a chance to experience Roan Mountain for yourself sometime soon!

Thanks for any comments, critique and suggestions!
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