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A weekend in the mountains is almost always good for the soul, especially when one is healthy enough — and the weather is nice enough — for hiking random trails, especially those that aren’t so well known.

hikepartyWhile mountain trails often open up to impressive vistas, such as this one of Lake Lure, taken from “Party Rock,” the sights I like best are the close-up kind: mushrooms and oddly shaped rocks, trees with personality or plants you rarely find in the wild.

hikebloodrootTake for example, this bloodroot (right), used as an herbal remedy by mountain medics, or this trillium (left), resplendent in its springtime bloom phase. We found several varieties, some with leaves larger than our hands. hiketrillium

I don’t claim to be able to identify every plant I see, but we enjoyed using an app Susan found that allows you to take a picture of a plant, and upload it. The app then displays similar plants, allowing you to identify it — assuming your picture matches something in the database.

hikejackIf you have a biblical bent, you can hear a natural sermon from Jack in the Pulpit (right), or ponder why a small, thin, single-leafed plant (not pictured) is called “Adam and Eve’s.”

hiketreeI couldn’t decide whether this tree trunk looked more like a giant iguana or an English bulldog, but I liked it either way.

If you get a chance to go hiking any time soon, don’t let the big overlooks cause you to overlook smaller treasures that could be crowding your feet. hikeredbud

In ways large and small, remember that “The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it; the world, and those who dwell therein …” (Psalm 24:1).

Tony Cartledge

About Tony Cartledge

Tony W. Cartledge is contributing editor of Baptists Today, in addition to teaching Old Testament studies and various ministry courses at Campbell University Divinity School. He formerly served as editor of the Biblical Recorder, newspaper of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and as a pastor for 26 years. Tony is a graduate of the University of Georgia, Southeastern Seminary and Duke University, where he earned a Ph.D. He is the author of several books including the Smyth & Helwys commentary on First and Second Samuel and Telling Stories: Tall Tales and Deep Truths and several Bible study books for Nurturing Faith.