Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day with temps in the upper 60s, so I celebrated by getting out on the river in the middle of the afternoon. What's really amazing about the Mountain Gorges of Western North Carolina is the way that spring comes to the mountains.
Down here at the bottom of the gorge, at 1600 feet, the crocuses were out in February. The Daffodils were out in March. The Tulips and the Forsythia bushes flowered at the end of March, beginning of April. And just a week or two ago, the trees started budding in the valley and slowly moved up the mountain sides.
Last week, in the middle of the afternoon, the red buds of trees on a ridge line at 3500 feet were backlit by the sun. Yesterday, with leaves emerging from their buds in the valley, the sun backlit splotches of green moving up the mountainsides towards 5000 feet.
If you can imagine a line of hikers climbing on the snowy white flank of Mt. Everest, and if you can, in your mind's eye, turn the snow of Everest into the leafless hardwood trees of the Smokey Mountains, and if you can turn those hikers into trees with their leaf shoots out in yellow-green splotches backlit by the sun, that's what the mountainsides looked like yesterday.
Down in the gorge on the river in my Ducky, the forest green water ran clear cold. On the banks Rhodendron were about to burst into flower. Purple dogwoods colored the banks. Mallard Ducks, both male and female, gazed at me as I floated by and woodpeckers flew overhead. Trees were alive with greenish-yellow shoots--even the tree that fell over in the winter and blocked the river, which had to be whittled away with a chain saw--even it's branches that remained were alive and young leaves were unfolding. You have to admire such a tree's strong desire to live and refusal to die.
And on every mountainside, splotches of green like paint from an artist's pallette, colored the side of the Smokeys like climbers on Everest, up to about 3500 or 4000 feet. As inexorably as a climber's summit bid on Everest, Spring is coming to the Smokey's.
Thanks for reading.