I have watched helplessly as the busiest April in memory has absolutely flown by. And with each passing day my chance of seeing the rare and beautiful swamp pink has faded. I began my quest to find the endangered swamp pink wildflower last year with no success. So this afternoon when a small window of time opened I seized the chance to try again. The Pink Beds trail in the Pisgah National Forest hosts the world’s second largest population of these special flowers. They only bloom for a short time in mid April. The swamp pink is so rare because it grows in a very unique habitat—a montane bog. A montane bog is a swampy, relatively open area that occurs in only a few places in the Appalachians. It is dominated by thick, spongy sphagnum moss making it very difficult traverse on foot. The Pink Beds trail circles a large bog giving visitors only limited access to the very edges of the habitat—which is a good thing because it protects the fragile environment harbored inside the bog. But that also means the chances of actually seeing a swamp pink aren’t great. The western side of the loop offers the best views of the swamp and I set out with high hopes. It proved slow going, however, because the winds storm that swept across the east coast last week had brought down many large trees across the trail. A mile or so into my hike I came upon two elderly park volunteers clearing the fallen trees with a chainsaw. I asked if they had come across any swamp pink and one of them gave me a knowing smile. He told me that he had accompanied a park ranger who was guiding a photographer to see one last year but he was sworn to secrecy about its location. I thanked him and pushed on. I had only planned to go a mile or two and then retrace my steps so I hadn’t bothered to bring food and drink. But as I carefully scoured each bit of swamp that I came across I was more and more determined to keep going until I succeeded. I was now climbing over large trees that had yet to be cleared and found myself deep into the southern end of the bog. I took an old side trail that cut into the heart of the swamp. I came upon a beautiful spread of blooming trout lilies, and then, a carpet of white anemone. The black water of the bog formed a beautiful small stream that ran alongside the path. The trail came to an end at the water's edge and acres of mossy swamp land opened in front of me with the mountains rising above in the background. I knew then that I wouldn’t see a swamp pink that day but it suddenly didn’t matter. And I didn’t care that I was thirsty and hungry. I was standing in place that few people would ever experience and I felt profoundly thankful to have that opportunity. I raised my camera and preserved the memory of that special place. I began the long walk out with a feeling of deep satisfaction knowing that my quest had been a success afterall.