Tiny Trillium Was Purple, But Not A Vasey’s

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 24, 2012

CHARLIE’S BUNION, On the Appalachian Trail — Upon further review, that wasn’t a lone and rare Vasey’s Trillium by the trail that had me atwitter until I got home and did extensive picture comparisons to discover my treasure was merely a less spectacular purple variety — like finding silver instead of gold.
Too bad I had already bragged about my Vasey’s on Facebook.
I’m no biologist.
It was a trillium kind of weekend as young Michael and I climbed deep into the Great Smokies to find that single purple and two other varieties — white and painted — in bloom along with galax, witch hobble, wild geranium, mountain myrtle and other pretty little things I couldn’t confidently identify.
In 1976 I bought a Smoky Mountain wildflower book from the discard table at the Rowan County Library. Now held together by a rubber band, I have carried it with me hiking, but I have never found the purple Vasey’s shown in the book.
Atop a ridge we saw evidence of the indiscriminate rutting of wild boars. A trap stood empty. At Ice Water Spring Shelter I inspected the hiker’s privy — a curious contraption complete with a bucket of fragrant wood chips to sprinkle generously when finished. Only rugged AT hikers on their way from Georgia to Maine could appreciate the primitive luxury.
The cold water at the spring lived up to its name. We filled our bottles.
It was a good weekend to get away from the politicians on TV and calling on the telephone. Cherokee is also having an election for chief, but there were only a few signs.
On our way driving to somewhere else, we happened by the new Cherokee High School — a whopping $107 million, all-in-one elementary, middle and high school opened two years ago. The high school has 500 high school students. The casino must be doing well. The Davie County Board of Education might search for traces of lingering Saura heritage to declare the county a reservation and recruit Harrah’s to Mocksville.
I have hiked to Charlie’s Bunion many times with my three sons, sometimes dragging them unwillingly along. This time, Michael led the way, only pausing when his father called for pictures. On the second day’s hike to Alum Cave bluff, he passed the “man test” — carrying the backpack. I am no longer the pack mule. The old editor lightly skipped along 15 miles in the mountains with ease.
We ate Elizabeth’s generously-slathered PB&J sandwiches on Charlie’s Bunion, elevation 5,565 feet, on Saturday facing into gusty winds, and at Alum Cave on Sunday in pleasant sunny …