C2C Apps: 7 Lessons (& a Gift) from a Wildflower Walk

Did you hear where we went last month on our Secret Adventure?

It was amazing. Incredible. Perfect.

Magical, in fact.

A small group of Courageous Women loaded up and headed out bright and early on a sunny Sunday morning. No one knew exactly what we were doing, of course, but I suspect the Travelin’ Instructions they received before the trip painted a pretty clear picture.

Adding hiking boots to the equipment list probably gave it away.

And though I was taking them someplace really, really special, I always worry that someone in the group will have been there before, or that it won’t seem quite the big deal to them that it does to me. Silly me. I shouldn’t have worried. Our destination was so incredible, and our timing so perfect; it wouldn’t have mattered if we’d been there 100 times.

You can read about this special place on various travel blogs and hiking websites, but you won’t find it on any trail map. I’ve been wandering around the Smokies my entire life and even I didn’t know about this place until a few years ago. Still, White Oak Sinks is the “worst kept secret” in the Great Smoky Mountains, so you’ll have plenty of company if you decide to go find it for yourself.

The beautiful thing about a wildflower hike is that not only do you get to see the most incredible variety of color and blooms, but you Take Your Time seeing them. Everyone you meet has a camera, maybe a tripod, and at least one or two dog-eared wildflower books in their hands.

What is it? What’d you find? was a common refrain as we met up with first this person, then that, hunched over a patch of color on the side of the trail every 100 yards or so.

It’s like a great, big, beautiful, colorful, community Scavenger Hunt. :)

And White Oak Sinks is among the best. If you time if JUST right, you’ll find yourself walking among acres of flowers, literally a knee-high carpet of color. Come back a week later – and it’s all gone!

But we were lucky. We saw purple violets, white violets, blue phlox, yellow lady slippers, Catesby Trillium (which we re-named Bashful Trillium because of the way they tucked their heads), white trillium, yellow trillium, golden aster, rue anemone, walking fern, wood anemone, columbine, shooting stars, bishop’s cap,…. and one or two more who’s names have escaped me.

 Life is rich in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

And as always, there are lessons in any trip for those willing to see them. Here’s a few that struck me after our walk in the woods. Following these would go a long way towards Building a (Courageous Woman’s) Life.

7 Lessons from a Wildflower Walk

  1. Make the Effort. Yes, sitting at home with the remote control in your hand is easier. Mindlessly clicking through one channel after another, or one YouTube video after another is easy. And anyone can do it. To see what no one else gets to see, you have to do what no one else is willing to do.

    Seek out Experiences. Go somewhere. Try something. It’s worth it.

  2. Watch your timing. The first time I experienced a full bloom at White Oak Sinks I was so blown away I couldn’t WAIT for my kids to see it. I returned the very next weekend with them in tow, excited to share the incredible display. It was gone. Vanished! Still a lush and beautiful place with 4 caves and a waterfall – but the color was over. 

    If you want to enjoy the best experiences in life, you can’t wait. Go. NOW. Because timing is everything.

  3. Pack a treat. I make a Super-de-Duper GORP (Trail Mix), and I always make sure our Courageous Women have a hefty portion of their own when we do a hike like this. One way to make any great day even better is to pack a treat, for yourself, and for those you’re with, and include something unexpected.

    Personally, I think a little dark chocolate in the mix makes all the difference. :)

  4. Find (and keep) a favorite stick. My walking stick and I have been hiking buddies since 1981. I found it in the Shining Rock Wilderness area of North Carolina while backpacking with my brother in college.

    He shortened it for me, and whittled the end, rounding it off to fit my hand. It’s as light as a piece of driftwood, yet strong and sturdy. It’s so much a part of me that I can’t imagine a walk in the woods without it, and I’ve told my family I want to take it with me when my time on the planet is through. There’s bound to be some great hiking in heaven, too.

    When you find something that makes life easier, take care of it, and keep it.

  5. Choose your (own) path. Before this trip, I knew of two ways to get into the Sinks. Now I’ve learned there’s a third. On the way out, my co-facilitator and dearest friend, Vandy Kemp, led part of our group out that third way while I led some out the way we’d come in. 

    We walked. They scrambled. Each way was fun, but each offered a completely different KIND of experience. There’s always more than one way to get where you want to go. Choose the way you want. And try a new path every now and then. You never know what you’ll discover.

  6. Follow your (natural) pace. Most of us have our own pace, a natural rhythm, that fits us, and we need to honor whatever that is. If you’re naturally slow walker (as I am), moving too fast will ruin the experience for you, and you’ll get sick! (Remind me to tell you THAT story sometime.) On the other hand, if you are a naturally fast walker (like Vandy, who’s long and lean) then going too slow can be equally aggravating.

    This applies in all kinds of ways throughout our daily lives. Introverts and extroverts. Right brain creatives and left brain analyticals. Through hikers and section hikers. You have a way that works for you. Respect it. Follow it.

  7. Experience the experience. There will be times when you really need to hurry up and Get There. And I understand that. But when you can, it will add so much to your life if you’ll just slow down. Stand still for a minute. Just a minute.

    Look up. How many shades of green can you see?

         Take a deep breath. What do you smell?

              Stop talking. What do you hear?

                   Feel the moss on that rock. What do you notice?

                        Stick your toes in that creek. How cold is it?

                             Talk to a stranger. What did you learn?

There. That’s it.

Such simple lessons, aren’t they? And yet, if you think about it, practicing these simple things in your every day life will add so much color and depth to even the most ordinary of days.

See, every day is extraordinary – when you look for it.

Here’s a little gift for you.

Before we launched this particular trip, I shared a TED talk I’d found that I think you’ll enjoy. It’s best on a full screen (not your phone) and with decent sound. It’s only about 10 minutes long, and it’s worth watching all the way through.

Click here for the link. :))

And have a Good (beauty-filled) Day.



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Photo Credits: by Wendy Pitts Reeves on Flickr


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