Friday, January 14, 2011

A Winter Wind and Wildflower Walkabout

Finally, out and about after 5 days of winter storming
No more staying indoors, keeping the house warming.
Time for me to explore.
Stepping off the parkway and passing through this lumbered pile from last winters ice storm I find the trail from the Furmans Fence to Don Hayes Road.
One nice thing about this heavy deep snow is the piles of trail side debris are hidden beneath inches and inches of snow, masking the bramble of piles and piles of ice storm clearings.
The trail remains a smooth walk, a pleasure to the step.
On the south side of Don Hayes Road is this little creek and bridge.
Good memories of hard work and fun building this bridge with volunteers.
Remember this? click to link
"Running Man on Gum Tree Bark"

....I'm snow blinded, mirages appear, smooth white on white takes it toll and my attention turns to texture against the velvet of snow covering every surface.

"Dragon Landing on Hemlock Bark"
"Snow Dancers on Locust Bark"
"Sargasso Seahorse on Yellow Birch Bark"
I love a switchback, the turn and grace of rounding a curve.
In this forest today even downed trees are beauty,
broken branches a treat,
and then the delight of birch leaves chattering, adding the high note and brush to the sounds of winds rustle
That this leaf could produce sound is but one of the beautiful attributes of the winter birch. Seems today is a day of texture to be found.
Don Hayes Road passes under this small bridge beneath the parkway. It is but a single lane wide and one should be hasty in passing through this burrow.
For there is no room for passing and oh what a sight to see, not just for me, but surely for some family beyond over the ridge waiting for fuel to make it through the weeks ahead.

On the north side of Don Hayes the creek passes beneath this longer bridge we made in 2008. Click link here 
In this little bottom by the creek the rhodies hold more snow that I have ever seen supported on such small branches.
At times they appear to be stuffing from pillows
support mounds of snow
becoming the ultimate snow ball blossom.
I enjoy finding artifacts of seasons past like this dried rhododendron blossom.

Back into the forest along the trail
around a perfect switchback
I encounter the shelf lichen tree
holding snow its shelf for all to see.
even the roots and runners of poison ivy are interesting to me
As I neared the edge of the pasture there was broom straw and queen Anne's lace
a beautiful snowball held in a crown of star jewels.
A spiral of summer fern
a tower takes a turn.
This was my favorite capture, difficult to get, white on white and such as that, this native delphinium blossom holds beauty even in winter.
And this, a Closed Gentian blossom stalk. This wildflower never opens its blossom (hence closed) and here in winter I understand how it spreads.
I tapped and shook it and tiny seeds spilled from the blossom pods. Only in winter will it open on its own.
I love seeing the contrast in evergreens and snow. This hemlock holds its share of the load.
One can only hope that these tiny hemlock seedlings will survive and provide a resistance to the woolly ageldid.
We are losing our hemlocks in this mountain range. These mighty trees stand bare, there is no green on their tops they are dead, drained by the ageldids.
Hopefully, some of the small seedlings will reach this height in 75 years beyond the blight brought on by these non native, imported, unstoppable pests.
The snow is deep, my feet are cold, its time to step out onto the parkway and head back home.
Always walking with my Gators and YakTrax in winter time. The gaters keep the snow out of my boots and the Yak Trax give me traction underfoot.

The wire coils bite into the packed and frozen snow.
It has been desolate and roaring, freezing and refreshing on this winter walk about.
But the parkway is mine, the wind and the snow devine, and I am fully here at this time.
And for all of that, this is the treasure offered to me today.


  1. Shelton, thanks for another beautiful photo tour of the MST in Watauga County. It was nice to revisit the links showing the 2 bridges being constructed (both, of which, I am proud to say, I helped on) -- the area sure looks a bit different than I remember now that it has a thick layer of snow. Jim Suiter

  2. Jim, Thanks for "Stopping by my woods on a snowy evening".... Yes that was a great time building bridges... "Building Bridges to the future of MST"... hope to see you up here in the spring~ peace, shelton