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Old May 22, 2013, 9:03 PM   #11
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Next on our "whirlwind tour" of high country flowers is Flint Rock on Holston Mountain. A great place for views of the fresh spring green...
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Old May 22, 2013, 9:06 PM   #12
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This is also a great place for one of my favorite spring orchids - Pink Lady's Slipper. Despite a recent fire on parts of Flint Rock, these "moccasin flowers" are thriving. They were not quite at full pink of bloom that day, but almost every plant had a bloom, or was about to bloom.
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Old May 22, 2013, 9:06 PM   #13
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Here are two more shots - one showing the burnt twigs littering the ground in the background, and the other showing a pair of "friends."
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Last edited by mole; May 22, 2013 at 9:07 PM. Reason: forgot to attach photos!
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Old May 22, 2013, 9:10 PM   #14
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One of the (many) fun things about hiking the high country in the spring is that it is sort of like a "time machine." Plants that had bloomed many weeks ago down in the low country are just beginning to flower in the higher places. For example, Wood Anemones are long past bloom back at the home park, but not quite in full bloom up near Flint Rock.

(PS - do you prefer the closer or farther view?)
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Old May 22, 2013, 9:12 PM   #15
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Another advantage of high-country botanizing is that you can get a different perspective on the flowers. Frasier's Magnolia flowers are high in the trees - it usually takes binoculars to enjoy them! But this tree was down off the bluff, and so we could enjoy a close view of the big creamy blooms.
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Old May 22, 2013, 9:14 PM   #16
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One more from Holston Mountain, but NOT from Flint Rock. A friend and expert naturalist told me of a population of one of our rarest little orchids, at a different part of the mountain. Greenfrog Orchid is easy to overlook, it's tiny and all green. But it is listed as an endangered species in our state (and in several other states), and this population is thriving (and now officially listed and protected).
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Old May 22, 2013, 9:17 PM   #17
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Our last mountain-top floral hike will be at Pond Mountain. It's another designated wilderness area, also along the Appalachian Trail. There's a great little side trail to some fine views of the wilderness area, off of Potato Top. Once again, it was hard to encourage the through-hikers to pause. Hope you enjoy the view!
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Old May 22, 2013, 9:21 PM   #18
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But it didn't take any off-trail hiking to view the wildflower of the day at Pond Mountain. We have a number of native Rhododendrons and Azaleas (both groups are in the same Genus) here in East Tennessee. Roan Mt is famous for its displays of Flame Azalea and Catawba Rhododendron. Pink Azaleas are scattered in the lower river bluff habitats. And many of our mountains are home for the nearly-white Rosebay Rhododendron. But there's another Rhododendron that is almost azalea-like in its delicate beauty. Piedmont Rhododendron (Rhododendron minus) is smaller than its cousins, and has smaller, less abundant bloom. But it sure does decorate the cool hollows along Pond Mountain!
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Old May 22, 2013, 9:23 PM   #19
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Will close for now with the main attraction of Pond Mountain. It's called Laurel Falls, or Laurel Fork Falls. Our very wet spring made it especially full-flowing this time.

Hope you enjoyed the mountain-hopping hikes - and that you will share your comments & critique!
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Old May 22, 2013, 11:11 PM   #20
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Beautiful photos of beautiful flowers in a beautiful area at a beautiful time of year!
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