Tag Archives: synchronous

Fantastical Fireflies—His Perspective

 

If you want to see a fantastical phenom, win a pass to go see the synchronous fireflies in the Great Smokey Mountain National Forest just behind Elkmont Campground. It is like walking into C.S.Lewis’s Narnia gone SciFi. It was whimsical, magical, spectacular, awe inspiring. We walked in expecting something grand and God did not disappoint! What a cool creation!

Several years ago I hiked up to Mount Leconte by myself and sat on the side of the mountain. It was raining so I sat on the back edge of my poncho, pulled my knees up to my chest and sat dozing in the twilight bliss of the rain splattering on my hood. One of the things that was dancing in my mind was wanting to see these fireflies I had heard so much about. I decided that I would get back here to see them the next year.

One thing led to another and year after year went by and I didn’t make it.  This year I was determined to get in and was foiled once again by my timing. You see, the park only gave out 1800 passes this year for viewers and the lottery had closed already when I logged on.  They give out 225 for each of the 8 days of the event and we missed it again!

“Ok,” I said to my Honey, “we are going anyway.” “The fireflies don’t know when the event is and they don’t know they have to mate in this one spot.” So we decided to go near the date of the park event or during it but come down the trail from a primitive campground nearby. I began calling different ranger stations to gather intel about which trail might lead through potential firefly viewing locations and what primitive site was near by. It became obvious that we would be spending a long night on the trail hiking with headlamps out and back from a primitive site and those were booking up fast too.

Discouraged, I tried one more time on a “oh wouldn’t it be nice if” moment and logged on to try to book at Elkmont Campground  in a car camping campsite. What to my bleary eyes did appear? Two sites for one night each during the event! I quickly booked one of them. I told the reservation form that we would have two cars and five people just in case my daughter, Andrea, her husband, Justin,  and our granddaughter, Blakely—that live there—could at least come up and picnic with us.

The visit turned out well too because they had just taken our granddaughter, who was five-months-old at the time,  camping the weekend before and they all loved it. She would now be coming camping for the second time in her first six months with us! They brought a tent and some supplies and met us there.

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I have the baby and everybody else is setting up camp…hehehe!

We pitched a 16’ Kelty Noah’s Tarp as an artificial sky and then pitched both tents, set up chairs and a briefcase picnic table under it. It rained and rained and rained…but cleared up long enough for us to go see the fireflies—just one more “coincident” number three. With baby Blakely in a shoulder supported carrier we  went looking for the fantastic.

Around 9:30 as it really got dark the display picked up tremendous energy. If they had been musicians in a symphony it would have been the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein performing Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man (I was really into that sort of thing in the 80’s). It was jaw dropping awesome. My Honey picked up on the rhythm on the fireflies right away and would quietly count 5,4,3,2,1 and for about 8 secs they would flash like crazy and suddenly go dark…5,4,3,2,1 and bam! they would light up the woods again like 4th of July sparklers gone Fern Gully!

We came out of there stary-eyed and in awe of God’s creation one more time. Wow!

For my Honey’s perspective read her guest blog here:) It’s really good:)!!

Here is a video of a Ranger telling about the event.

Here is a time lapse video of the event one night.

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Pondering Your Path—could there be a little firefly in your life that is really putting on a spectacular show? Definitely go see these guys like we did but don’t miss the spectacular little things that are just as star studded if you look closely enough.

Thousands of Fireflies Make the Woods Magical

A Guestpost by Loral Pepoon (Honey)

Something magical happens when you don’t know what to expect and an experience ends up being far better than you could have imagined. We happened to get lucky and snag the last campsite in the Smokey Mountains at Elkmont campground, in an area where around 1,800 people flock to see the synchronous fireflies once a year during mating season.

I was excited to go and see some fireflies because my husband would be there and we would get to spend time his daughter, son-in-law and our baby granddaughter, but I was concerned about the weather—thunderstorms were predicted. Bears were also on my mind—after all, these mountains are where Smokey the Bear got his name—especially with the baby around. We didn’t have our bear can with us. But, once I saw that the campground looked very well used, my concerns about bears were allayed.

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The Fantastic Five—from Pop’s (Seth’s) perspective!

To deal with the weather, we put up a Kelty tarp, which we borrowed from a friend for shade on our recent beach camping trip. I’m so glad we had that tarp. It’s awesome, and we I’ve been miserable camping in the rain before. But this tarp fixed everything! We could stand up and walk around and gather at a table and hang out with hot beverages and smores without an issue. We were content in our dry campsite, and honestly we thought it might be rained out and there would be no fireflies to be seen. Seth’s daughter wasn’t sure she should wake the baby because it was so late, but her husband coaxed her along.

I also really didn’t feel well. Oh the joys of being a female and the monthly curse. But at least there were facilities here.

All these reasons would have been reason enough to stay cozy in our rain protected campsite instead of walking a short distance to check out the fireflies. I’m so glad I didn’t fink out. If I wouldn’t have gone, I am not exaggerating to say that I would have missed out on an one of the most amazing experience of my life!

I’m so glad we went—WOW! I have honestly never felt more like a little girl in an Alice in Wonderland story. How old was I? Was I in a dream?

 I walked through a dark forest, holding my husband’s arm to guide me, knowing potentially hundreds of people were around us and yet, we couldn’t’ see a thing. Everybody walked fairly quietly and orderly. Then we started seeing a few fireflies light up. Then a few more. A few more steps and then we turn around to thousands of twinkling Christmas light looking fireflies lit up, buzzed, cracking like sparklers. Their lights covered the forest floor, all lighting up at once.

 It was so spectacular. I wish I could describe what happened in a better way for you. After thtey lit up, we began to see a pattern. We would count down…3…2…1 and they would all light up again for a second or two. And then it would go dark again. Then three seconds later, the Christmas lights would appear again.

 We watched them for about an hour within a fairly small area where we were walking around. And it was an hour that I will never forget. Absolutely amazing.

I tell everyone who will listen that it was truly one of the most magical experience of my life.

My mind linked the experience to Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at church, which is always my absolute favorite part of Christmas. It’s so beautiful when that dark room at church lights up with candle light—representing the hope of Christ if we all acted as He did toward one another. I had that same hope and peace during that magical experience walking among fireflies—in awe and wonder at God’s creation.

If you want to go see the synchronous fireflies, you will have to do some planning—and some praying, because there is a lottery, and only a fraction of the people get in. But, if you book your campsite in advance at Elkmont, you are automatically in. Try a weeknight for best success.

I promise you it will be well worth it. You may even find it magical—like I did.

(Read my husband’s account of the same experience...it’s so interesting how differently we remember the same event!) That’s one reason why everyone should write. We all have a different take on everything we do! If you would help writing a blog, article or book, please visit cowriterpro.com, and contact me