Sunday, September 27, 2009

BIG DIG ~ OCTOBER 2, 3, 4 ~ BRP 290-290.2

The annual BIG DIG in Watauga County is this coming weekend, October 2, 3, and 4. Many volunteers from across the state and 15 students from Georgia Tech will convene at Thunder Hill Overlook. click here for more information

This is the overlook at BRP mile post 290.3. All volunteers will coordinate out of this parking lot to the work site on Thunder Hill.
Most people believe Thunder Hill is adjacent to and South of the overlook. But the peak at the convergence of the parkway in this photo is Thunder Hill, Nort West from the overlook.
From the parking lot we will walk about .1 of a mile to the private road on the left. At that point, our section to begin working is accessed. It is a busy section and the parking lot may be full. Bikers, hikers, joggers, motorcycles, and cars are often in this vicinity.
It is a small drive and could accommodate a couple of service vehicles, please do not park in the drive.
Yes, it is starting to morph into Autumn in these mountains.
Our trail entrance is cleverly hidden beneath this scrub. But we will have no trouble accessing the trail.
Most of the work area is sloped, somewhat steep, but not requiring of switchbacks. Mostly we will grub out hardwood saplings and level the foot tread in this stretch.
The ground is eye candy and the treats are increasing by the day.
Approximately .1 mile into our work section there is a beautiful set of boulders that would be perfect to set as the "lunch break point"!
Beyond that south is a rhododendron stretch we will work through.
Thanks to John and Chris for going through this week and chainsawing our clearing.
The Rhododendron pass opens into a birch, maple, and oak forest stretch.
Near the end of this stretch there is a habitat of closed gentian. This beautiful blossom never opens up. As shown in this photo it is in full bloom. Hence, "closed gentian". Only pollinated by specific bees that can crawl into the blossom with out it opening, this plant is an anomaly to the open petaled flower and has its own inter species habitat needs.

Stepping out .2 of a mile from the parking area this wonderful rock with huge trees growing on it is a landmark along the parkway and at a trail head for our section.
Walking South those .2 miles back to the overlook is a treat (seen at the distant point). On the west side is the cut rock of thunder hill, and on the left is the deep gorge below that feeds thunderous winds up through this pass.
On the day this photo was taken the mountain air temperature was around 60 degrees. The steady winds uplifting out of the piedmont valley below were much warmer. It was possible to stand and feel warm air flowing into your face and walking through this pass was like stepping into a heated space in an otherwise cool atmosphere.
The coloration on the rock face is a pleasant iron and gray symphony.
An arrangement of tones of warm and cool values, shapes and lines is easy to find on the cliff face.
Walking back the view west is remarkable. This section is not the highest point on our Watauga Section, but it is one of the biggest views anywhere on the parkway.
And this is the view looking East and South at Thunder Hill overlook. On a clear day you can see to Hickory, Morganton, and some say, to Charlotte. Hope to see you here soon!
Check the weather ahead by clicking on Rays Weather in the top right corner of this page. It can be warm and cold and windy and wet and hot and freezing all in the same day! :-)