It's the third week of June, my favorite time of year in the Smokies because it means azalea time at Gregory Bald. This time I had the pleasure of sharing it with my dear Bonnie, her first ever visit to the beautiful mountain peak. With the flowers peaking and the prospect of storms all week, we elected to give it a go and see whatever we could before the weather turned sour. It paid off in the long run and in between heavy downpours I was able to fulfill the day's mission...asking Bonnie to marry me. So next to a bright orange bush under the cover of an oak tree, I got down on one knee and asked her to be mine. She said yes and their was much rejoicing. Then wind. Then rain. Then lightning. So we bolted to the woods and rode the river of a trail back down the mountain laughing and smiling the whole way.
The famous Flame Azaleas were at their peak upon our arrival, but the oncoming storms were about to leave their mark.
Bonnie crouches under an azalea bush to shield herself from the rain, scrambling to secure her belongings and add layers.
Usually one of the first to drop their blooms, I was surprised at how well the white hybrids were doing this late in the bald's overall display.
We were fortunate to be able to enjoy the wildflowers, I guess the views will have to wait til next year.
The trek down the mountain saw us both get completely soaked from head to toe. Our boots and socks were water logged, so we chucked them into the truck bed as soon as we finished.
Journal about loop hike out of Twentymile to Gregory Bald coming soon!
A small cascade and pool near one of several stream crossings along Wolf Ridge.
Still some strong color showing during the ascent up Wolf Ridge.
A sign marking the summit and remnants of Parson Bald.
Autumn on Gregory Bald is quite a different scene than the vibrant wildflower explosion of late spring.
Crystal clear views over Cades Cove to the north.
The leaves and buds will have to endure the winter before they can dazzle our eyes in June.