Sunday, March 8, 2009

Piney River Hike

Today Kenny and I hiked the Piney River trail in Spring City, TN. I was anxious to check out the lichens and see how many different kinds we could find. Many were the same kind I saw in the Smokies. We saw 2 wildflowers blooming along the trail. The first one didn't surprise me, I expected to see Hepatica (left) since it is one of the first wildflowers to bloom here. The second one was Barren Strawberry which did surprise me since it is a later blooming flower.

The arachnids were out in full force today! I was amazed at how many red Velvet Mites I saw crawling around on the rocks and logs. It was a real challenge to photograph them, they are constantly on the move, but I did manage to get a couple of good shots. It is impossible to use a tripod because they don't stay in one place long enough! The little gray dots in this photo are the apothecia (reproductive bodies) of the Smoky Eye Boulder Lichen.

When we stopped for lunch at the river, I could hardly eat my sandwich because I kept getting distracted by all the critters! I saw Caddisflies, 2 male spiders on the rock, and a Mourning Cloak butterfly (that I couldn't get a photo of).

A couple of other interesting things we saw were some pretty mushrooms growing from the bark of a dead tree and a dead scorpion caught in a spider web under a rock overhang! That was a first for us. We relish every moment we can spend in the woods, we're looking forward to many more hikes this year! :)

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