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Saturday, October 11, 2014

This One's For Sharon

This post is for Sharon, because she made the mistake of commenting to me that she hadn't noticed lichen on her hikes in the Smokies.  I knew right where to head to find a big variety quickly.

Top of the mountain is always a good place to find lichens so we drove up to Newfound Gap.

It wasn't all about the lichens, at this time of year that's where the fall color is.  We thought it might be a good idea to get up there and look at it before all the weekend crowd arrived and the forecasted storms came in.

I didn't take two steps out of the car in the Newfound Gap parking lot and was confronted by a fenceful of lichens making their home on the old wood.

Walking to the restroom we passed this lovely view, complete with lichen on the tree to the left.
Sassy boy sticking his tongue out at me!

Wayne hopped up the stone stairway to the overlook and look at all the lichens he found there!

In case you were wondering a "gap" is a low point in a mountain ridge.  New Englanders call this a "notch", Westerners call it a "pass".

Newfound Gap is where you can pick up the Appalachian Trail if you feel like hiking all the way to Maine.  They have great lichens out there too, by the way.

After our short stop there we continued on to Clingman's Dome.  Not for the view from the Observation Tower because it was socked in with clouds.

Our real destination was Forney Ridge Trail, where a short 2 mile round trip hike would provide us with lots of lichen viewing opportunities on the boulders that line the start of the path.

There were so many lichens I almost didn't know where to look!  Rock? Tree?  Ground? 

lichn covered boulder

I'm not sure what Wayne was looking at while he waited for me, I tried to be fast, I swear.

The one below was my favorite, I saw it growing in a couple of different spots along the trail.  No time for identification lessons today, it took me 5 hours just to load the pictures last night due to a weak wifi signal here.  Not surprising for where we are, I won't hold it against them.  For a change going closer to the office didn't help either.

I also dug this one.

I even had Wayne take a picture of me looking for the ones growing on fallen logs.

The picture below is of a fungus I believe.  It was too cool to pass up including it here.

Group shot...everybody say "lichens"!

When we came to the trail intersection we headed to the right for about five minutes just to check it out.  It was pretty cool, but we had plans.

One thing of note is that we noticed a "licorice" smell on the trail about halfway down and again on the way up.  The volunteer at the top said maybe it was bear.  Anyone able to confirm this?

Definitely Stiff Gentian!

This late in the year my only wildflower sighting on the trail was what I think is either Stiff Gentian or Mountain Gentian.  This is a great little trail, check it out when you go visit Clingman's Dome!


  1. Bears smell like licorice? Never heard of that. Ron said he always was told they smell musty. Maybe there was a licorice patch nearby. ;-D

  2. This is why we make new learn things we didn't know before. I'll have to admit, I noticed a lot of lichen on both hikes I did this week! You've ruined me. LOL! I think there is a plant that has a licorice scent to it, but I have no idea what it is and can't remember my source for having heard that.

    1. You probably heard it from me! I have a plant in my garden that smells like licorice (anise hyssop) it spreads like crazy, I have to pluck a bunch of it out in the spring before it takes hold or else I'd have nothing else but that in my flowerbed. This was my first thought, and I plucked a few leaves of nearby plants to pinch and smell them but had no luck there.

  3. LOVE the shot of Wayne on the trail. This area is on our bucket list for sure!

  4. You definitely found some cool lichen for Sharon. I always enjoy seeing the lichen because then I know that that is a healthy area.

    Clingman's Dome is not fun! Hiking straight up on concrete sure makes for a boring, tough climb, but we did it!! I like your hike much better:)

    Wayne is not looking too happy with you!!