Friday, June 06, 2008

Hike at Roan Mountain for Appalachian Ecology

Black Berries are actually threatening the "grassy bald habitat" on top of Roan Mountain. A project is actually underway to bring in Angora Goats to help control the black berry and keep it from over growing the bald. 
A close up of Rock Tripe, it is edible but a little too spongey for my taste.
Rock Tripe growing on a rock in the understory of a Spruce-Fir Forest.  
False Hellebore is a common plant, albeit one that looks slightly out of place, on top of Roan Mountain.
Roan Mountain Bluet is a very distinctive small flower.
Patches of Blue Berry are also common, scattered throughout the "grassy bald".
Close-up of a bud on a Blue Berry bush. 
A shot of the Blue Berry leaves.
A "grassy bald" on Roan Mountain.
Round Bald, elevation 5826 feet.
The side of grandfather, showing the merger of "High Elevation Deciduous Forest" (light green) and "Spruce Fir Forest" (dark green). 
The understory of a "Spruce Fir Forest" is made up of nothing but "duff" which is a mixture of pine needle debris. 
Green Alder, a relict of ice ages. Roan Mountain supports an isolated population of this plant, which otherwise is only found in the northern most Appalachians, in and around Vermont. 
The most distinctive most of the understory, within a thinner forest, such as were the deciduous and Spruce Fir forests converge. Here, the moss is sending off spore stalks.
In this forest, moss dominates the understory and covers everything.
Three different types of lichen share residence on a rock.
Life is pretty tough at 6,000 ft.
A few shots of the view from Roan Mountain.

This was one of my favorite hikes. My Appalachian Ecology class is over now, so I will have to come up with more things to post, until then,


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hike at Beech Creek Bog for Appalachian Ecology

Beech Creek Bog is located on the northward slope of Beech Mountain. Sphagnum Moss forms mounds that are raised, which allow other plants to grow on top of them, that would not otherwise grow in a bog (in this case Rose Bay Rhododendron, such situations allow the plants to grow but they are typically stunted). These Mounds are called a Humic.
Close up of Sphagnum Moss, a good indicator of a bog habitat.
Cinnamon Fern is also common in wetland areas. It gets its name from the spore stalks, resembling cinnamon.
Here is the Beech Creek, it does not directly feed the bog, making it a "true" bog, which is fed by ground water.
Beaver Pond further down Beech Creek.
Effective little chain saws ehh?
If you walk upslope, out of the bog you enter a "mixed oak forest" where the shrub layer is largely made up of only three plants: May Apple, Hay Scented Fern and a species of thin Grass.

A few more pictures...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hike in Linville Gorge Wilderness for Appalachian Ecology

Without doubt, the Linville River offers some premier rock hoppin' terrain. 
This one is for Sarah (because it is the best and most beautiful haha). Amazing view of the Linville River Gorge and "table top" in the background. Looks like a postcard ehh? 
Postcard shot number 2, same scene, different viewing angle. 
Eastern Hemlock that has died either from Pine Bore Beetle infestation or Wooly Adelgid infestation. It is shedding its bark significantly. Good thing mom wasn't there to see the bark or I would have been carrying it to our backyard. 
Some fry in the edge of the Linville River, probably Trout. There is a good amount of sediment in this river since there are so many roads that cross it, such as 221 and 105. 
Dr. Skeate's dog "Buck Eye" fetching sticks on the river. Wasn't too effective but very entertaining. 

Only two hikes left, but more pictures to come...


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hike at Big Yellow Mountain for Appalachian Ecology

The bald at the summit of Big Yellow Mountain, elevation 4,535 ft. Grandfather Mountain in the background.
Another angle of the bald, the trail cutting through is the AT. The "natural" tree line is very abrupt. The forest here is a high elevation deciduous forest, with surprisingly few evergreens, and mostly Yellow Birch and Beech, with the occasionaly Northern Red Oak and Ash. The bald is thought to of been formed either by glaciers, or by the once common Elk which would of kept it from growing up. The open field is now managed and the land is leased so that cattle can be kept here to keep the bald from growing in.  
"Dwarf Beech Forest" Along the ridge of Big Yellow Mountain, thick forests of Beech are abundant. However, these trees that are probably hundreds of years old never grow more than 3-5" thick and 20 feet tall due to the temperature and high wind. Just a few hundred yards down the side of the mountain, the same trees are 30" thick.
American Bird Grasshopper (Schistocerca americana). Can't tell from the photo but this guy was about 4" long. A true beast. 

Hike at Wilson Creek for Appalachian Ecology

Little Lost Cove Creek. "Hunt Fish Falls" and following swimming hole. 
The local "hot spot" for chillin' purposes for all the teenage Osteichthyes fishes. 
The most natural sauna I have ever seen. If only the water was 105 degrees instead of 50. Ohh well, maybe next time. I am sure at some point during the summer it gets close to 60.
I took this one for Sarah, of some sp. of Lepidoptera
The water is amazingly clear all along Little Lost Cove creek.
"Hunt Fish Falls"
More pictures to follow,


Monday, June 02, 2008

Summer Class

Well, this blog seems to have died, my fault. But I am in Banner Elk for a summer course...Appalachian Ecology. So, BE is not too hoppin' so I am back to blogging to pass the time. Maybe I am lucky enough to still have an occasional curious reader. 
But today we hiked around Wilson Creek, within the Pisgah National Forest, so I'll throw up some pictures of the hike tomorrow.