I awoke at sunrise to find that the storms had gone but several interesting cloud formations remained, adding to the scenic beauty of the drive over into North Carolina. The air was cool and the forest dark. I left the sounds of traffic behind me and ascended into the wilderness. Not much was blooming at this point, just an occasional foamflower. Most of the trillium I passed were well past peak and losing their luster. Then I received a nice surprise when I stumbled upon my first vasey's trillium of the year. It is similar to the catesby's trillium in that the dark maroon flower dangles below the leaves. I managed to count only a handful in prime condition the remainder of the hike, but it was certainly great to finally see one. The higher I got, the more abundant other wildflowers became. The speckled wood lily was the most populous, lining much of the trail in an impressive display.
Before reaching the trail's terminus atop the Thomas Divide, I was treated to one more surprise, the last elusive type of trillium...purple wake robin. This flower is similar to the vasey's in that they share the same maroon color, but it's closest relative is the white erect trillium. Both have thinner flower petals that stand above the leaves. Its most interesting characteristic is the odor; hence, it's other name...stinking benjamin. The find thus completed my goal of successfully seeing and photographing all of the park's diverse trillium...at least according to my Smokies wildflower books.