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Backpacker Magazine – October 2009
Washington, Arkansas, and Georgia are host to these three life-list phenomena treks.
GEORGIA'S WINTER WITCH HAZEL
Hike to an explosive flower.
The Wonder Witch hazel, used as an astringent, has pale yellow blossoms that flower in late fall. More gawk-worthy is the small tree's exploding fruit. The fuzzy brown pod contains two chambers, each protecting a glossy black seed with an edible white interior. Upon maturity, the chambers burst open with an explosive crack, ejecting the seeds up to 10 feet. The fruit and flowers appear at the same time, meaning you could get popped.The Way Park at Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi, a gear shop in Neels Gap, to pick up the Appalachian Trail for a four-mile out-and-back to Blood Mountain. You'll gain 1,800 feet out of the valley. About halfway to the summit, you'll catch the overpowering scent of citrus, indicating a grove of 10-foot-high witch hazel trees lining the path. fs.fed.us/conf/rec/fow/20041130-fow.shtml