Afternoon: Arrive at Lake Junaluska,
Dinner: Welcome dinner will be the Lambuth Inn's buffet with choice of entrees, vegetables, breads, desserts & the bountiful salad bar. Iced teas, water & coffee (regular/decaf) are included.
Evening: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and and changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures and answer any questions you may have.
Activity note: Getting in/out of vans. The drive to the park is about 35 miles, approximately 40 minutes. Walking up to four miles on rocky, well-traveled trails. Wear comfortable hiking shoes, bring day packs with water, sunscreen, bug spray; depending on weather, you may want a sweater and/or rain jacket.
Breakfast: Enjoy the Lambuth's breakfast buffet with eggs, breakfast meats, breads cereals, juice, coffee & more.
Morning: We’ll hop aboard vans and head out for a full day field trip Baxter Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is the most visited National Park in the entire system, yet, given the fact that it covers 500,000 acres, seldom seems crowded. It is also the most biodiverse, supporting more than 19,000 documented species of plants and animals — including more than 1,500 flowering plant species — thanks to the combination of mountains that formed 200-300 million years ago, the climate, and weather. GSMNP has more than 800 miles of trails through scenic forests. With our expert naturalist we will walk the first 1/2 mile of the trail together identify plants and hearing a bit of their usage & folklore. The trail wanders beside a mountain stream, then veers off to a small open meadow, these two environments offer the potential for a wide variety of plants.
Lunch: In the park, we’ll have boxed lunches, sandwich, fruit, chips, water & a sweet. Our naturalist instructor will give a more detailed instruction on how to use the non-technical key to identify plants. We will be using the Newcomb Guide.
Afternoon: Our naturalist will give us an introduction to the unique features of this environment and its history. Both the Baxter Creek and Big Creek trails follow along creeks. You may choose to proceed leisurely along either trail and look for blooms or walk a bit faster and cover both trails. This is a good area for trillium. Our naturalists will be walking the trails as well to assist you in indentifications. We’ll return to the hotel after our field trip.
Dinner: Buffet at Lambuth Inn
Evening: In the hotel, we'll enjoy a performance of regional music. The musical heritage of the Appalachian region is rich and varied. Immigrants from the British Isles predominated during the 17th century, passing down their favorite ballads and dance tunes. Other influences included African American and white country gospel music. The kinds of music enjoyed in different areas also varied with the instruments available, from fiddles and banjos to dulcimers and guitars
Activity note: The van ride to Kephart Prong is approximately 40 minutes, 32 miles. Walking on rocky, streamside trail up to 4 miles, 3-4 stream crossings on log footbridges with railings.
Breakfast: Lambuth Inn Breakfast Buffet.
Morning: Next, we’ll board the vans and head for the Kephart Prong Trailhead. We will walk along the Kephart Prong trail, stopping to identify plants and blossoms with the naturalist. We will have opportunity to use our non-technical keys along the way. This trail provides an interesting mix of native and introduced species. During the Great Depression, there was a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) camp here, one of the first successful programs of the New Deal. Corpsmen worked on a variety of projects in the park.
Lunch: We’ll have our boxed lunches along the trail. Faster walkers may lunch near the Kephart Shelter. (Not in the shelters as food odors could attract bears to the overnight sleeping quarters.)
Afternoon: We walk back down to the vans, load in for a 15-minute ride to the new, full service, “green,” Oconaluftee Visitors Center. We will explore the Mountain Farm Museum on the grounds, a collection of historic structures preserved during the creation of the GSMNP. Following the path through the Museum brings us to the river trail. Along the river trail, we may spot more wildflowers. We’ll return to the hotel after our field trip.
Dinner: Dinner is the Lambuth Inn buffet.
Evening: A local wise-woman will give our group an evening of wild plant craft, folklore, and probably a ballad or two.
Activity note: Walking 2-3 miles; forested trails, elevation above 5,000 feet.
Breakfast: Lambuth Inn breakfast buffet.
Morning: We will travel approximately 28 miles, 40 minutes due to the nature of the road, to Purchase Knob. This recently acquired addition to the GSMNP has large forested tracts, as well as an open mountain top meadow. We will walk in search of wildflowers and butterflies. The higher elevation offers the opportunity to view plants in an earlier stage of development than the lower elevations we’ve been exploring.
Lunch: We will have boxed lunches at the Appalachian Highlands Science Center at Purchase Knob; restrooms available.
Afternoon: Free time. You might like to set out on your own and explore the surrounding small towns and trails of the Lake Junaluska-Waynesville area of Haywood County.
Dinner: We dine at the Lambuth Inn buffet.
Evening: This evening we will enjoy a class which will introduce us to the naturalist /explorers Bartram, Michaux & a bit of the Cherokee people's use of plants. Hear some songs of the southern Appalachians.
Activity note: Van ride about 28 miles, approximately 3/4 of an hour on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Walking up to 4 miles; forested trails, some hills.
Breakfast: Lambuth Inn breakfast buffet.
Morning: We will travel the Blue Ridge Parkway to reach the vertical bog across from Wolf Mountain Overlook. This rock outcrop hosts a wide variety of wildflowers through the seasons. This is a possible short stop as some rare species bloom here in different times of the year. We’ll then ride on to Bear Pen Gap.
Lunch: In the parking area at Bear Pen Gap, we’ll have boxed lunches.
Afternoon: Next, we will follow a trail from Bear Pen Gap to Wet Camp Gap, that wanders through a hardwood forest, crosses over small creeks, and opens to a grassy field. There are plenty of wildflowers to be seen along the way. You may choose to continue from the meadow either up a steep trail to a high point, curve along the mountainside on the Mountains to the Sea Trail, or linger in the sunny meadow. Our naturalist will walk the trails and give a talk in the meadow on this specific environment, butterfly activity, and bird migration. Returning to the hotel, we’ll have time to freshen up and relax before dinner.
Dinner: Lambuth Inn Buffet
Evening: We’ll enjoy a concert of Appalachian music.
Activity note: Check-out by 11:00
Breakfast: Breakfast Buffet
Morning: For our final session together, our naturalist will show plant photos featuring many of the species we’ve identified though the week, followed by questions and answers. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!