Snails and Spiderwort before Bulls Gap

Day 4

Rainy Mornings

I woke up around 7 to the sound of heavy rain pattering off my rainfly. Rain was forecast to stay strong for a bit. The next two hours were 0.25 inches each while the remainder of the day was only trace amounts <0.04 inches an hour. The perfect excuse to stay warm and dry until then and sleep in.

Rebecca Mountain

Heading up to Rebecca Mountain is a gradual climb through deciduous forests most of the way. Being the early spring it feels more like sticks than trees.

Early spring forest

This is normally a dry section without reliable water for 12 miles, but the rain this morning helped that. What would normally be a seasonal trickle was nearly a full fledged brook and I was able to avoid any cameling.

The trail eventually reached a fire tower (no public access to the tower). This marked Rebecca Mountain. The dirt tread turned into concrete and felt a bit like a sidewalk.

Spring Life

The ridge after Rebecca was meandering and gradual. I came across a snail sitting on a dead log. It was a bit shy and hid away. Patience is a virtue and it was a good spot to take a break, so I waited for its shyness to pass. After 15 minutes it was assuaged that I pose no threat and poked its head out to the world once more.

Snail sitting on a dead stump

My new friend

The snail made its way off the side of the log. Slowly but surely making progress.

Snail crawling down off a dead log

Getting a good stretch

Moving on, I came out to a forest service road crossing with a 0.2 mile side trail to water marked. By the water was a spider web with two green and red orchard spiders swaying in the breeze. Orchard spiders are a good example of mimicry. Despite being non-venomous, they have a bright red spot on their bellies. It looks like half of the iconic black widow hourglass, but in this case is only a bluff. On my way back up the side trail I observed a bumblebee on some redbud flowers.

A bumblebee on a redbud flower

Spring pollinating

Spiderwort Blooms

The best part of the day was heading on a ridge right before Bulls Gap trailhead. The forest wavered between deciduous and open pines. Pine needles and leaf litter blanketed the forest floor. And poking out from under it was splotches of purple.

Spiderwort plants on forest floor

Small dots of color in a sea of brown

It was a spiderwort bloom! Not a small one, either. There were at least a thousand spiderworts. Every direction you looked bright yellow anthers shone like stars on galaxies of purple flower.

Purple spiderwort flower

Purple spiderwort

Spiderwort gets its name from its leaves, which extend out far and flat like a spider’s legs. For being a single species there’s an astounding amount of variety. They typically have purple flowers, but a couple displayed pink flowers. Some only had a single flowering centerpoint to a plant, while others had flowers all over.

Cluster of pink spiderwort blossoms

Pink spiderwort

Most had decumbent flowers laying directly on the ground. But others had flowers reaching for the sky on a stem.

Purple spiderwort with 3 flowers at different heights

This one had three different flowers at different heights, each one slightly above and offset from the last

The leaves also came with large amounts of variety. While some had few, long extending leaves, others had large clumps of smaller leaves. Some were erect and flat, while others twisted and crinkled. Most leaves were green, while others had tinges of red.

A pink-hued spiderwort with crinkled leaves behind a purple spiderwort with straight leaves

A pink-hued spiderwort with crinkled leaves tinged with red behind a purple spiderwort with straight leaves

I spent around 3 hours looking at all the different spiderworts and identifying what variations between them I could. While I was doing this a southbound Pinhoti hiker passed by. I talked to him some and after 5 minutes talking about different spiderwort variations, he proposed I take Spiderwort as a trail name.

Winding Down for the Day

I exited the spiderwort bloom and came out nearby Bulls Gap Trailhead. The Pinhoti Outdoor Center left a cache of water with a note there, explaining that the next 14 miles has no reliable sources and that it’s pertinent to camel up. Thank you Kimm and Nathan Wright!

Pinhoti Outdoor Center trail magic with a water cache

I stopped for the night soon after. But not before passing through Bulls Gap, which has an open viewpoint. There was a rainy and slow start to the morning but this afternoon is one I’ll not soon forget.

Looking out into the Alabama countryside

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Comments 1

  • Cory "Huckleberry" Kolodji : Nov 13th

    On my 2022 AT thru hike, I longed for wildflower information! I had hoped to find local experts but all anyone would say was “there’s an app for that.” Same with birds. It was brilliant to plan ahead and learn the flowers before hiking.


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