Goin’ Sparkin’

Mark and I hiked out of the wilderness yesterday. After a week in the Smokie Mountains National Park we were sweaty, sticky, muddy, wet, dirty, exhausted, bruised, scraped and above all, smelly.   Sounds appealing, doesn’t it? Makes you want to spend a week in the woods, huh.

I had a great time.  I’ll tell you all about it later (and include some pictures) but first I gotta tell you about Thursday night:

This is totally cool and completely unphotographable.

We lined up at 3 in the afternoon along with 1600 other people to ride a shuttle bus to Elkmont, TN in the National Park, to see Synchronous Fireflies.

Beginning around 9pm the fireflies put on the most amazing light show.  Unlike the fireflies we have around Texas that light up for a few seconds and slowly drift through the evening humidity, the little buggers in Elkmont *blink*. Not only that, they blink in waves, like fans in a football stadium.

The woods are pitch black (except for a little light pollution from Knoxville thirty miles away) when suddenly the forest sparkles with a bazillion little green flashes that sweep from right to left and disappear into the distant haze.  It happens again about twenty seconds later.  And again. And again. And again.

For hours.

Seems these beetles have 21 days of wild orgy lovemaking before they drop dead from exhaustion.  Their offspring take two years to mature before they molt into beetle form.

While we were waiting to catch the buses that afternoon all the families around us sprayed down with insect repellent.  I wonder how many of them realized the irony.

The light show at Elkmont lasts ten days and attendance is getting bigger every year. 

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