Planning to wake up to take pictures of the night sky, we set our phone alarms for 3:00 am. Unfortunately, when we woke up the sky was mostly covered by clouds.
We went back to sleep and woke up again around 6:45 am. The sun had already come up and there was a cool, diffuse light coming through the cloud cover.
It was a chilly, moist morning. Our tent had a considerable amount on condensation on it. We tried to hang the tent’s rain cover from some trees, but the water hardly evaporated.
But first things first! We had our breakfast and coffee.
There is something supremely satisfying about a hot cup of coffee and a hot breakfast on a cold morning in the middle of the woods.
We used Trader Joe’s Instant Coffee Packets with Creamer and Sugar for our drinks. Normally I’m not a big fan of instant coffee, but this stuff hits the spot after a night camping. With the creamer and sugar already mixed in, it’s also easy to bring along and make. For food, we had Mountain House Breakfast Skillet, which was delicious.
It took about two hours to have breakfast and pack up our gear. Around 8:30 am we were back on the trail.
As we walked along, we passed many more campsites within the next mile or two. Several of them were in or near a meadow – it turns out that I needn’t have worried about available campsites! The other campers were still packing up and we were alone on the trail going south.
One of my favorite things about Dolly Sods Wilderness is the variety of nature and forests that you pass through.
I especially enjoyed hiking through the spruce tree forests.
Flat-topped White Aster
Again, we encountered Flat-topped White Asters. They were by far the most common Asters we saw during our trip.
The Flat-topped White Aster, or Doellingeria umbellata, is a member of the Aster Family (Asteraceae). A native flower, it grows throughout eastern North America and blooms August to September. It favors moist thickets and meadows, as well as swamp edges.
Flat-topped White Asters can grow 2 to 7 feet tall. We saw many tall stems of these wildflowers growing in the forest. Their height was a factor that helped me to identify the type of Aster it was.