Let’s see if we can find something neat. My name is Tom Harrington.
I’m a volunteer interpreter in Cades Cove. I have several activities that I take part in in the park One is in Cades Cove I do presentations, answer questions. Then I also will do park trail reports, wildflower reports. And finally I do programs for civic clubs, retirement homes in the
parks community outreach program. TOM ON TRAIL: It’s one of the best early wildflower trails.
Here’s hepatica… The hepatica can be white, can be pink, lavender. And you can see some really nice star chickweed and hepatica up there. In 1982, some friends
invited me to go hiking with them and one of the people was very interested in
wildflowers and I saw the beauty of them and got interested in it myself. Normally I’m out every week and I have been since 1982. There’s some weeks
occasionally I don’t get out. I don’t drive in the snow and ice if I can avoid it. TOM ON TRAIL: Oh wow, and you can see toothwort already booming right here and some up there. One of the neat things about wildflowers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you can start
enjoying them as early as late February all the way up to the first frost—
sometimes as late as Thanksgiving. So it’s really something to look forward to.
If you have friends that are into wildflowers, you can kind of have a
contest to see who finds the first one. It’s very addictive. In fact I encourage
people when I do a program on wildflowers let’s see if we can get Mr. Webster to
make a new word for the dictionary called ‘wildflowering.’ And the definition
of that would be “seeking, finding, identifying and enjoying wildflowers.” The uniqueness of each one is one of the things that is most impressive to me.
To think how they can be so different. For example, in this national park there’s
more than 1,500 different species which exceeds the numbers for any other
location in North America. And I’ve hiked in the Grand Tetons and they have
beautiful wildflowers, but not the variety that we have. TOM ON TRAIL: You can see all
up through there. A lot of people don’t look that far up through there, but you
can see a mass of blooms. The reason I volunteer in the national
park is I love the national park. If nothing else, it gives me a reason to
be here, and, secondly, it’s meant so much to me I feel obligated to share it with
other people and maybe to try to get other people more involved. The more
supporters we have for the park the better it’s going to be protected and
preserved and maintained. I led a group of senior citizens on a wildflower walk, and I had a man that had been a scout all of his life and worked in the scouts
after he was an adult. And at the end of the walk, I think he said,
“I’m in my early 80s, and I’ve hiked these mountains all of my life, and today was the first day I ever saw a wildflower. That made my day.