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Chasing Spring

Blue Ridge nature retreats
April 24-26
May 22-25, 2022

Appalachian Spring Wildflowers ~ Cloud Forests ~ Old Growth ~ Migrating Warblers ~ Blue Ghost Fireflies


  • 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. 


Sample itinerary:

  • Friday: 7-8 p.m. arrive, meet your fellow-venturers, followed by short moonlit walk or slideshow​​.

  • Saturday:

    • 8-9 a.m. breakfast​ at the Inn

    • 9-12 orientation to Appalachian cove forests: visit rich coves full of spring wildflowers, and explore acid forests with hidden orchids

    • 12-1 p.m. picnic lunch

    • 1-4 explore the finest So. Appalachian bog in the region (rare plants, blooming pitcher plants)

    • 4-6 time to relax by the river or explore on your own

    • 6-8 delicious farm dinner

    • 8-10 Full moon walk in search of blue ghost fireflies

  • Sunday:

    • 8-9 a.m. breakfast at the Inn​

    • 9-12 creek hike to a hidden waterfall

    • 12-1 p.m. picnic lunch

    • 1-5 explore high elevation cloud forests, full of rare endemic species

    • 5-6 departure (or stay for an optional extra night at the Inn - not included in price)

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