June 3, 2003 ~ A Day in My Life, Illustrated, Part II
(continued from Part I. Mouse-over images for commentary.)
When I reached the base of Jones Mountain, I looked out over the valley, back toward the college, and the clouds were falling over the mountains:
Hopefully the next two hours would stay at least somewhat dry, though. I made my way to the trailhead and started in:
People used to live around the base of the mountain long ago. As I turned onto Davidson Trail, I passed an old rock wall and the ivy-covered parts of the foundation of a building long gone:
The forest was dark and vibrant, as it always is when the air is heavy with rain. I turned onto Old Hemlock Trail, where the forest floor is covered with ivy and periwinkle (you should have seen it when the little purple flowers were in bloom this spring):
All of the forests in the lower elevations of the Blue Ridge Mountains are mainly deciduous, but there are small stands here and there of evergreens. Here are some of the trees for which the trail gets its name:
Little green unopened cones spotted the trail, and old brown cones from last year crunched under foot. (I always think of you when I hike this trail). Nearby stands an old chimney:
There is no longer any trace of the foundation of the house that it belonged to. I wonder about the people that lived there. What sort of meals were cooked on that hearth? How long ago were they here? Were those old hemlocks still saplings, or, better yet, did someone who lived in that house plant them? They do stand in a very straight row. Were those who lived in this house some of the first settlers in Swannanoa Valley? Did they plant the old orchard several hundred feet away?
The trail loops around and starts onto an incline around a bend. There are several scrub pines growing there, and the trail is slippery with their needles (a needle-coated trail is a real rarity around here).:
The ground here sparkles a little almost everywhere you go. This is because the soil is so rich in mica:
Onward into the woods:
Lots of mushrooms with all of the rain we've been having:
The bottom of Jones Mountain involves a lot of up and down before you really start climbing. There's a tiny stream that runs through one of the dips, but you can hardly even see it anymore with all of the spring undergrowth:
(Much of that undergrowth by the stream, by the way, is wild roses. They were in bloom two weeks ago when I took this route. Little white blossoms everywhere, and it smelled amazing.)
The woods on Jones mountain (and through much of this region) are mainly deciduous with evergreens here and there, but below the canopy of the trees, the rhododendrons and mountain laurels crowd in thick:
Near the stream there are lots of ferns and moss:
I started up Barefoot Trail, which leads a steep switchback up to Hung Tree Trail. The trees were dark overhead, against the grey sky:
And the forest was just so vibrant today:
Another wildflower I haven't looked up yet, and some neat lichen:
I met up with Hung Tree Trail, and after a short stint switched over to Ridgetop Trail. Where the two trails meet, there was a little patch of these wildflowers:
Starting up ridgetop:
This stump was a squirrel's stash, and some of the nuts have sprouted into the rotting wood:
This old oak is one of the largest, strongest trees in this section of woods, but it appears to have snapped right off in the middle. There are no scorch marks, so I don't think it was lightning. The winds do come strong over this ridge, however, so perhaps the oak was a casualty (hard to believe!):
I love this little hook-shaped root:
The trees are mostly young, but they certainly are beautiful:
Now, isn't he just a neat little beastie?
(Actual size, about three inches long)
...retreat to Part I OR continue to Part III...
A Day in My Life, Illustrated. Series.
Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV