Cataloguing life on and off the trail

April 21, 2018

For Earth Day


in the pink*
phrase of pink
  1. 1.
    informal
    in very good health and spirits.
    synonyms:in good health, very healthy, very well, hale and hearty;
  2. *from Google



Today began in the pink.

Rarely do I see a pink sunrise without hearing my mother say, 

      Red sky at morning, sailor's warning,
               red sky at night, sailor's delight.

Sure enough, the forecast calls for rain starting tonight, so we decided to load up and head to one of our favorite hiking spots in search of yet more pink.

Pilot Knob, is situated on one of the highest points in West Tennessee on the Kentucky Lake area of the Tennessee River. When I was a child, my family would picnic in the stone pavilion at the pinnacle. The structure built by the WPA in the 1930s no longer remains. Today it is the site of the cultural and folklore center. The area became NBF State Park, a part of the Tennessee State Park system, in 1963.

Enough history, today I went in search of Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) blooms. I had consulted my photographs from last year and discovered that on our April 23 hike they were in full bloom, some past prime. Perhaps this would be good timing. We had climbed the hill to the cultural center and were barely on the trail when I knew my quest was a bust.  The Mountain Laurel were still in bud, and, although they are lovely, would not be at their prime for a week or two.  No matter, we love the Orange trail and were still glad to be there.


Mountain Laurel (in bud)

I soon discovered that all was not lost in my quest for pink flora. Just a few steps down the trail my eye was drawn to an explosion of "prom dress" pink off to the left. Pay dirt!

Several years ago, when we first began to hike, I saw a flower/shrub/tree at Natchez Trace State Park that I had never seen before nor since, although I learned the name through my research––and there it was, the southern Pinxter Flower (Rhododendron canescens), a wild azalea.

Fingers crossed that I have identified it correctly. 

Southern Pinxter Flower


The day was saved by this discovery, but the woods were filled with Spring Beauty, Phlox, Oxalis, and Saxifrage, all of which I've been seeing on the trail for the past few weeks. What I had not seen was the Dwarf Crested Iris. I began to notice blades all along the central section of the trail and finally found one single bloom waiting for me.

Dwarf Crested Iris
Although we've hiked this trail all winter, it is always fun to see the woods awaken, finally. Winter gives us the beauty of an occasional snowfall and the luxury of no bug spray, as well as not having to monitor our footfalls for snakes; however, it can get a bit boring when the scenery is so static. Thankful to live in an area with seasons. Oh, and speaking of snakes, today we saw the first of those, too. Fortunately, it was a friendly.

Here's to hoping you are "in the pink". Happy hiking and Happy Earth Day!

Southern Black Racer





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