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Blue Ridge Nature Retreats 2024
Chasing Spring 
Wildflower Edition, 3 Days
April 26th - 29th
Rooms are full ~ Day-only spots available ~
Summer Headwaters
Fungi Foray, 3 Days
August 16th - 19th
Summer Headwaters
Fungi Foray, 2 Days
September 13-15
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Appalachian Wildflowers | Cloud Forests | Old Growth
Abundant Mushrooms | Fireflies and Foxfire

Join a small group of fellow nature-lovers -- led by a renowned local naturalist --

for a weekend exploring the magical summertime forests of the Blue Ridge.

Up in the headwaters of the east, outside of Asheville, NC, we will spend each day tromping through cloud forests, old growth, and rich coves of wildflowers.

The summer retreats are timed to coincide with the peak emergence of Appalachian mushrooms.

 

These are small events and registration will be handled over phone or email.  

For more information:

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Information

Location: Celo, NC - we'll be based at the Celo Inn, a charming B&B on the banks of the South Toe River near Burnsville, NC. 

Timing: Friday evening to Sunday or Monday afternoon

Meals: 2-3 Breakfasts (provided by Celo Inn), 2-3 lunches, 1-2 supper(s). Meals will be a delicious mix of locally raised meat, garden veggies, foraged forest foods, and fresh-baked bread. Vegetarians will be accommodated; vegan, gluten-free, or other specialty diets are possible, but please ask first.

The Guide: Tal Galton is a regionally respected naturalist who knows every nook and cranny of the Black Mountains and has been called a "mountain master" by Outside Magazine. His writing on Appalachian botany and nature can be found in Asheville's Mountain Xpress. Check out client reviews on Tripadvisor.  

Cost:

The April & August weekends include 8 meals, 3 nights of lodging, and 3 days of naturalist-led hikes:

$950 for a single, $1500-1800 for a couple/double (exact price depends on room choice/availability).

The September weekend include 5 meals, 2 nights of lodging and 2 days of hikes:

$800 for a single, $1250-1500 for a couple/double (exact price depends on room choice/availability). 

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Sample Itinerary

Friday 

7-8 p.m. arrive, meet your fellow-venturers​​.

Saturday

  • 8-9 a.m. breakfast​ at the Inn

  • 9-12 orientation to Appalachian cove forests and fungi; explore acid forests with hidden orchids

  • 12-1 p.m. picnic lunch

  • 1-5 hike the headwaters to hidden waterfalls and pristine swimming holes or relax by the river or explore on your own

  • 6-8 delicious farm dinner

  • 8-10 night walk in search of foxfire and fireflies

Sunday

  • 8-9 a.m. breakfast at the Inn​

  • 9-12 explore the finest So. Appalachian bog in the region (rare carnivorous plants)

  • 12-1 p.m. picnic lunch

  • 1-5 search for native blooming orchids

  • 6 farm dinner

Monday

(Long Weekends Only)

  • 8-9 a.m. breakfast at the Inn​

  • 10-3 explore NC's own cloud forest and its rare and endemic plants (picnic on a pinnacle)

  • 3-5 depart or explore the Blue Ridge Parkway or Mt Mitchell on your own

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FAQ
  • How strenuous will it be?
    We will be walking outside for several hours each day; the hikes will be doable for anyone who is moderately fit. It's the mountains, so the terrain is inevitably hilly. Each full day will entail 6-8 miles of hiking, with up to 1500’ of elevation gain (and loss). The pace will be moderate, since we will stop frequently to observe and learn about the natural wonders of the Southern Appalachians. If you are familiar with Road Scholar's Activity Level system, these weekends would rank as "Outdoor: Spirited."
  • What should I bring?
    Once registered, you will receive a detailed packing list, but essentially, you'll want clothes that are practical and comfortable. You can expect to get water on your feet and dirt on your clothes.
  • What about the weather?
    We will be outside in the weather all weekend, so you should be prepared for rainy in the 50s or sunny in the 80s. The woods are amazing in all sorts of weather, and spring is a fantastic time to be in the mountains. Typical daytime temps are 60s and 70s, and 40s at night.
  • What about transportation?
    Plan to arrive at the Celo Inn on Friday evening. All sites we will visit are within 45 minutes of the Inn; driving will be limited to no more than 90 minutes each day. We will carpool or use a van, details will be worked out once everyone is registered.
  • What about foraging? Will we learn about wild edibles?
    At Snakeroot, we are firm believers in an “eat something wild everyday” ethos. We will certainly incorporate some wild foods into our Saturday evening meal. Eating wild plants, animals, and fungi is an important way to connect to nature and deepen our relationship with other species. However, we also believe that wild plants and fungi should be appreciated for what they offer to the world in beauty, in complexity, and for each species' essential role in an intricate and coherent ecosystem. If you ask, we will tell you what is safe to taste and we will instruct you on ethical harvesting techniques; but learning about edible plants is generally not the focus of a Snakeroot tour. Stay tuned for a summer-time retreat that will be more focused on foraging (especially mushrooms).
  • What about fireflies? Will we see blue ghosts?
    We'll probably only see glowworms (firefly larvae) in April, but the May weekend falls in what is typically the heart of firefly season. At least one night walk is included in the weekend, and there may be opportunities to sign up for extra nights as well.
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