A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Trillium at Thunder Ridge Overlook

April 27, 2022
Emilie Phillips

Once again our hike route was influenced by my parents’ maintenance duties. First, we met the regular Wednesday maintenance crew so my mom could hand out a stack of water source signs and instructions, and my dad could hand out a volunteer recognition award. Then, to make up for missing the trillium the previous day, my parents took Isaac and I to the biggest collection of trillium on the AT.

We started at the Thunder Ridge Overlook. Over the last 48 hours, the weather had completely changed. The car thermometer said 37F at one point on the drive up, though it was 41F when we started. The wind was howling up the west side of the ridge. The parking lot on the east side of the ridge was sheltered, but the overlook on the west side was bitter. We beat two other groups out of the parking lot and hurried past the overlook. Then we headed north on the AT.

More trillium

The first slope grew lots of may apples and sparse trillium. Mom said it used to be more trillium, but the may apples are slowly out-competing them. Trillium covered the next hillside – a carpet of spade shaped leaves and white or pink flowers. We never get that many trillium up north. I took so many pictures I was sure the other groups would catch up.

Emilie, Trudy, John

They didn’t catch up until we stopped at an overlook 1 mile down the trail. They had been taking just as many photos as we had. The first group was an NBATC hike. My mom is past president of the chapter and my Dad current president, so they know everyone. Mom explained to the group that we were standing on an original section of the AT from the 1930s. The AT started on roads. Most of it has been rerouted over time. I could guess at hints of an old road bed on this section, but nature has mostly reclaimed it. To prove the section was original, Mom pointed out a tarnished metal diamond blaze in the tree next to the overlook.

James River Foot Bridge

In exchange for Tyson getting a longer hike on Thursday, Isaac had bargained for a short day Wednesday. So we turned around at the overlook. On the drive home, we made a quick stop at the James River Foot Bridge for another trail maintenance job. My parents had received a report of graffiti. They inspected it and determined what tools and crew needed to be dispatched for cleanup. And they discussed whether the a forest service officer needed to be involved. At the end of the Foot bridge, Isaac found an interesting plant which Mom identified as wild ginger.

All Photos

GPS Track