Hiking The North Carolina Mountains

Every couple of years we rendezvous with friends near Asheville, NC for a few days of hiking. Much of what is seen is different than that found in in central Ohio and that’s part of the area’s appeal. However, unlike central Ohio with it relatively flat terrain, the rugged ups and downs make the trails no walk in the woods. Because of this, as well as the length of some of the hikes, the serious cameras were left at home. Even so my wife got some excellent results with her Panasonic FZ200 while I explored the performance limits of the ZS50.

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Our base of operation is the Sourwood Inn which is convenient to Ashville and highly recommended should you find yourself in the area for a hiking vacation or just a quiet getaway. On our recent trip we hiked portions of the  Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST), The Snowball Mountain Trail, Craggy Gardens Trail, and the Craggy Pinnacle Trail which are part of the Craggy Gardens Trails group.

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In past years we’ve seen plenty of fungi, moss, and lichen, and this year was no exception. Usually numerous butterflies are seen while hiking but this year we saw more along the Blue Ridge Parkway as we drove to the various trailheads which was not convenient for pictures. 

Along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.

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Usually located not far off the trail, fungi, lichen, and moss captured our attention. Except for the low light  seeing and photographing it is relatively straight forward. However, once in possession of a photograph trying to identify it can be a humbling experience. Over the years we’ve seen some often enough that identification is straight forward. For most this is not the case so many of the ID’s should be taken as our best guess.

In the family of the boletes,  Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.

Probably in the bolete family,  Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.,

Honey Mushroom, ,  Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.

A family of mushrooms, unidentified, Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.

Powder-cap Amanita, Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.

This mushroom appears to be past it’s prime (note mold) making identification difficult.

 

Tinder Polypore, Snowball Mountain Trail

Mushrooms and Lung Lichen keep each other company, Snowball Mountain Trail.

Old Man’s Beard lichen and leaves with a hint of autumn, Snowball Mountain Trail.

Turkey Tail, Snowball Mountain Trail.,

 

This group appear to be some type of chanterelle,  Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.

Another mushroom group along a trail near the inn.

A member of the bolete family, Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.

Rooted Polypore, along a trail near the inn.

Velvet Foot, Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge, (Donna).

White Coral, Snowball Mountain Trail.

Crown-tipped Coral along a trail near the inn.

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One of several overlooks on the Snowball Mountain Trail.

A short but steep descent to Hawkbill Rock with it’s beautiful vista, Snowball Mountain Trail.

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When we weren’t trying to figure out the fungi there were wildflowers to enjoy.

Pinesap,  Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.

To late for Foam Flower so this one remains unidentified, Snowball Mountain Trail.

Beech-drops, a parasitic plant which grows and subsists on the roots of American beech, line portions of the Snowball Mountain Trail.

Indian Cucumber Root, Snowball Mountain Trail.

Downey Rattlesnake Plantain, Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Snakeroot often bordered the trail, Craggy Gardens Trail.

Asters, Craggy Gardens Trail.

This is one of those cases where I was so fascinated with the structure of the flower that I forgot to photograph the leaves making identification almost impossible, Craggy Gardens Trail.

A cool morning made this lethargic bee easy to photograph on some trailside Goldenrod, Craggy Gardens Trail.

Turtlehead, Mountains-to-Sea Trail, (Donna).

Mountain Laurel, Snowball mountain Trail, (Donna).

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Overlook at Craggy Pinnacle.

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And butterflies:

Appalachian Brown, Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge, (Donna).

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge, (Donna).

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Even a turtle:

Box Turtle, Mountain to Sea Trail near Rattlesnake Lodge, (Donna).

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But not as many birds as we would have liked:

Dark-eyed Junco, Craggy Pinnacle, (Donna). Seen in central Ohio only in late fall through early spring. However, due to the elevation which creates a climate similar to that occurring much further north, these birds are year round residents.

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A view along Craggy Gardens Trail.

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With it’s high elevation and harsh weather trees have to be tough to survive along the Pinnacle Trail.

Located along the Craggy Pinnacle Trail one wonders how many times this tree has been photographed.

Another view.

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For those in the eastern part of the country looking for a some beautiful mountain hiking, the area near Asheville, NC is highly recommended. The plus is that with a vibrant downtown, good restaurants, fascinating shops, and excellent galleries, Asheville is a great place to explore should you decide your legs need a rest day.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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Should you wish prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. If you don’t find it on the link drop us a line.

 

A Festival of Fungi at Clear Creek Metro Park

With the amount of rain we’ve had recently it seemed like a great time to visit Clear Creek Metro Park to see what fungi might be making an appearance. The park is unique, located about fifty miles southeast of Columbus in an area where the last glaciers stopped their southward advance. It’s 5,300 acres of woods, sandstone cliffs, ravines, and creeks are home to hemlocks, oaks, and hickory. As we left Columbus we were hoping to discover some things not seen closer to home.

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It was still early when we arrived and everything was wet from a recent rain. The air was cool but the humidity was very high. Given these conditions, we were drenched in perspiration for most of our five mile hike, with glasses and viewfinders fogging up every time we attempted to take a photograph. On this particular day, it was the price of admission.

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Interestingly, the first thing seen was lichen growing on the roof  of a visitor information board not far from where we parked.

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British Soldier Lichen, red fruiting bodies are less than 1/8 inch across. It was the first we had seen in Ohio.

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Leaving the lichen, we began a rather steep assent into the woods and immediately started seeing fungi. This continued throughout our hike of the Creekside Meadows, Fern, and Cemetery Ridge trails. Seeing so many unfamiliar fungi, the challenge soon became one of trying to figure out we were looking at.

mush P1040479

Violet-gray Bolete

mush Two-colored Bolete maybe 3 072115 Clear Creek csb1

Another example, (Donna).

mush P1040484

More fully developed.

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Turkey Tail on a fallen log.

mush P1040466

Crowded Parchment

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Small purple Bolete. Colors appear to vary among the same species.

 

mush P1040451

Jellied False Coral

mush P1040445

Red-belted Polypore

 

mush P1040442

Unidentified

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Spores being released from a mushroom.

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Berkeley’s Polypore. One area of the woods was dotted with these. This one was about 6 inches across.

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Very large Lepiota mushroom (@12 inches tall)

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Another view.

mush Orange Coral 1 best 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Coral Mushroom

mush Chanterelle P1040514

Chanterelles

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Donna moving in for a close shot.

mush Chanterelle 2 trio 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Chanterelles, (Donna)

mush Burnt-orange Bolete 1 best 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Burnt-orange Bolete, (Donna)

Mushroom white tan  Clear Creek   cp1

Panther Mushroom, (Donna)

mush Tall Tan Toadstool Clear Creek cp1

Unidentified Amanita, (Donna)

mush Pink Polypore 1 best 1 072115 Clear Creek csb1

Pink Polypore, (Donna)

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Unidentified Mushroom

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Unidentified Mushrooms

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Tufted Collybia

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Another view.

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Apricot Jelly

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False Coral

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Rosy Russula Mushroom

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Powder-cap Amanita Mushroom

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As if all the fungi were not enough, wildflowers were also making their presence known.

flwr Spiderwort  Clear Creek   cp14

Spiderwort, (Donna)

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Starry Campion

Indian Pipe 1 best 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Indian Pipe, (Donna)

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Woodland Sunflower

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Downey Rattlesnake-plantain

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Downey Rattlesnake-plantain leaves.

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Oswego Tea

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A little further away.

flwr Downey Skullcap 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Downey Skullcap, (Donna)

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.   .   .   and while not flowers, pretty nonetheless.

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A confused leaf!

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Ferns were everywhere.

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Given that flowers and many other plants were in abundance, butterflies and moths were easy to spot.

butt P1040681

Pipevine Swallowtail

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Another view.

butt Great Spangled Fritillary 072115 Clear   Creek cp1

Great Spangled Fritillaries, (Donna)

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Great Spangled Fritillary

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Great Spangled Fritillary

Hummingbird Moth P1040714

Hummingbird Moth Blur

Hummingbird Moth 1 LL 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Hummingbird Moth, (Donna)

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While not our main objective, we did hear a lot of birds and even managed to see a few.

bird P1040576

Hooded Warbler

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Titmouse

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Eastern Wood-pewee

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Another view.

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A Wood Thrush? refuses to cooperate.

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At the end of our hike, we were in awe of the things seen. Many were first’s for us in Ohio. It had been a magical day.

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Trail at Clear Creek Metro Park

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

“Whatever Was On That Tree They Liked It!”

Those were the words of our son when he saw our pictures of butterflies congregating on a small tree. The butterflies were noticed yesterday at water’s edge while walking along Griggs Reservoir. They were very numerous but dispersed in groups around the tree making a total count difficult. It wasn’t exactly something we had seen before. Usually it’s a butterfly here and another one there. In the past, when seen groups, there’s usually some identifiable substance attracting them and it’s not always something pleasant.

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In this case, whatever the attraction was (perhaps tree sap?), several different species could relate to it, with the Hackberry Emperors being the most numerous and aggressive in their efforts to keep the others away.

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Hackberry Emperors find something good on the bark of a tree.

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After being chased off, a Red Admiral waits it’s turn.

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Not easily bullied, a Question Mark joined in, (Donna).

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After we left the tree a very small but beautiful butterfly was noticed on a clover flower.

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Perched on clover, a very small, very beautiful, Eastern-tailed Blue, (Donna).

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There were also other insects about.

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Stream Bluet Damselflies mating, (Donna).

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More mating, Apple Bark Borer Moth, (Donna).

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There was no shortage of flowers to keep the insects busy.

q P1030245

Water Willow

q P1030243

Water Willow

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Emerging Coneflower, (Donna)

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Heart leafed Umbrella-wort, (Donna)

P1100834

Take 2.

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Horse Nettle, (Donna)

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Design in green, (Donna)

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Morning Glory casts it’s early morning shadow.

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Rain Garden sunflowers, (Donna)

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Tall Meadow-rue, (Donna)

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Emerging Queen Ann’s Lace, (Donna)

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Our friends the turtles were happy to make an appearance. One river rock appeared to be particularly attractive.

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Scioto River Map Turtles, (Donna)

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Recent rains had brought out some interesting fungus.

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Rhodotus Palmatus, (Donna)

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Common Split Gill, (Donna)

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From below, (Donna)

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Unlike my wife, I spent most of my time looking for birds and other creatures (perhaps a Mink?) to photograph. With the leaves providing ample cover for the larger creatures, small things carried the day.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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