Sunday, October 6, 2019

Tree Scientist Inspires Next Generation Through Barbie

Here is a neat little video on climbing an old Maple tree in Washington State on NPR this morning...

Tree Scientist Inspires Next Generation Through Barbie

Monday, September 30, 2019

Raven Rocks: Appalachian Trail

Hiking north on the AT


View from Raven Rocks
Over the weekend I went to the Brunswick Old Time Weekend at the B Chord Brewery in Round Top Virginia. It's a small gathering of old time musicians who get together and camp and play music for a few days. The gathering was held in a field owned by the B chord brewery. The beer is delicious and the tunes were great. An unexpected benefit of attending the event was being informed that the Raven Rocks trailhead was located just over a mile from the brewery. After camping out Saturday night at the music festival, Sunday morning, I decided to hit the trailhead before the jamming started again.

The hike was a nice 5.8 mile round trip, with a nice outcropping with a view as the reward. Having done very little hiking in recent days, I was kind of surprised how enjoyable this hike was. I started around 8:00am, I went slow, the trail is rocky and can seem somewhat steep at times, but not bad at all. Leaves were turning colors, especially on the ridge. Temps were unusually warm again. The trail is popular from what I could gather, and the lot was full of cars by the time I finished the hike around 11:00...

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Fall is Here, Dry as a Bone

Potomac River running low
The last couple of months have been the sunniest and driest I have seen since returning to Maryland almost four years ago. The rain spigot has pretty much been turned off after years of regular rain events. Leaves are starting to turn color, but it is obviously very dry. I have not been hiking much at all lately. Above is a picture of the Potomac River I took last week. You can see clearly how water levels have receded significantly since early summer. It's still very hot out too. Today it's supposed to be near 90. Rain is expected next week, so hopefully some relief is in sight...

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Blackwater Falls State Park WV/Green Ridge State Forest MD


Hemlocks on rock

Blackwater Falls




Pendleton Point Overlook (afternoon)

Lindy Point

Pendleton Point Overlook (morning after thunderstorm)

Fairfax Stone: small spring marks the beginning of the Potomac River

Fairfax Stone

Iron Furnace

Green Ridge State Forest



Camping in Green Ridge State Forest, Maryland

After camping in the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia back in August, on the way home I stopped by Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia for the first time. I have to admit, as I get older my patience for crowds is dwindling. The State Park was full and the campsites seemed to be too close to one another for comfort and I almost bailed on camping there. I'm glad I didn't. There was plenty to see and do in the time I spent there. The falls were stunning, and easy to access. For me, the highlights were the views from Pendleton Overlook and Lindy Point Overlook. I guess most visitors tend to stay near the falls and the campground. I hardly saw anyone at the overlooks and was able to soak in the views without the distraction of Instagram selfy takers. A morning thunderstorm created some dramatic clouds in the valley of the Blackwater River from  the Pendleton Overlook.

After Blackwater Falls, I felt it was appropriate to visit the Fairfax Stone once again. The Fairfax Stone is located in the fall western corner of Maryland and marks the beginning of the Potomac River. Having spent two weeks hiking along the river in June, it was cool to see this tiny trickle of water that starts the whole thing.

Finally, before ending the trip, I camped in the Green Ridge State Forest in Maryland. Last year, the forest here was exploding with newly formed mushrooms. I was shocked at the variety of different types, and felt like I was in the redwoods again. This year, the exact opposite was the case. I couldn't find any mushrooms this time around. I'm led to believe that the mushrooms need the right conditions to arrive. It was definitely dryer this August than last. The creeks and streams in the Blue Ridge were much lower than last, most likely due to the dry July we had this year...

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Monongahela National Forest (West Virginia)


Summit Lake


Spruce and Hemlock



Some rhododendron still in bloom


Cranberry Glades

Pitcher Plants



Scenic Highway







Black Mountain Trail






Yellow Birch

Honeycomb Rocks


Red Spruce Knob Trail


The first week in August I returned to the Monongahela National Forest to camp for a few days after attending the Clifftop Old Time Music Festival in West Virginia. I had been looking forward to returning all year and hope to make an annual visit in years to come if possible. I explored several short trails in the region and also got a better grasp on what I was seeing. Last year, the place seemed like an eastern rainforest, water everywhere, creeks and streams bursting at the seams. Mushrooms bursting all over the forest floor. This year was a little different. Creeks and streams were much lower, there were hardly any mushrooms to be found, overall, things seemed much drier. Still beautiful nonetheless. The colors were still a feast for the eyes.

There were many wildflowers in bloom and butterflies, although even the butterflies seemed a little fewer this year at this time. The weather was warm, with afternoon thunderstorms.

The forest was a treat, and I enjoyed hiking amongst the red spruce and hemlocks, which were at times rather large. I learned this time around that the forest is all second growth. Unfortunately, loggers nearly obliterated the region in the early 1900's. Fires broke out on mountain tops with the heat so intense that even the soils were scorched and nearly destroyed. It will take hundreds of years for the forest ecosystem to recover. I would have loved to have been able to see what the forest originally looked like. Diaries of early explorers of the region burst with giddy excitement at the power and wildness of the original forest. Today, although grateful the forest is returning, you can tell that the power is not quite there yet. However, I was very grateful for the solitude, and rarely saw anybody on the hikes I chose.

Hopefully, next year, I will be able to peel back another layer and explore more of the region...