Autumn at Waterrock Knob

Today, August 7, felt like summer, even at 5,600 feet on Waterrock Knob. But it looked like fall.

Trillium
Trillium

Beth, my hiking friend, and I scouted a Carolina Mountain Club hike which I’ll lead in October. We started on Heintooga Road, on the Blue Ridge Parkway at the first Mountains-to-Sea Trail white circle.

The first mile-and-a-half or so on the Qualla Boundary was gentle and rolling. It’s not a very popular section of trail – yet – but it’s well-blazed and should be explored.

On the MST
On the MST

Then we started the climb from the Blue Ridge Parkway to Waterrock Knob. We crossed Howard’s Bridge. See the photo on the right.

It was hot and muggy. I was dripping sweat as we hiked through the trees. Yet, feelings are sometimes  deceiving.

The surroundings shouted fall.

We found the remains of a yellow jacket nest on the ground. Someone, probably not allergic, had built up rocks over the nest and placed a spray can of insect repellent as a warning. Thank you!

The trail takes you to Piet’s bench to honor a trail builder and maintainer who was instrumental in the success of this very difficult trail. See the picture on top. Yes, the Blue Ridge Parkway gave its blessings to this bench.

Doll's eyes
Doll’s eyes

The blackberries were dry, seedy and no longer appetizing. Tiny blueberries had fallen on the ground. It seems that even bears didn’t scoop them up.

To me, doll’s eyes (white baneberry) are the quintessential fall fruit. It’s not a particularly showy spring flower but it stands out in the fall.

Several websites  have a need to let you know that the plant is poisonous. Well, who would want to eat it? It doesn’t look very eatable.

The trillium plant was showing off its red fruit. We marvel over the trillium flowers in the spring, yet its red fruit, which is probably also poisonous, is also a major symbol of fall.

But I’m not ready for fall. It’s only the beginning of August.

 

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