Sunday, March 22, 2009

Arches, lichens and a waterfall

Kenny and I went to Big South Fork yesterday. We went to an area where we hadn't hiked before when we went to Slave Falls (left) and Needle Arch. We wanted to go to the park before the leaves obscured the views of the arches. Big South Fork is on the TN / KY border located on the Cumberland Plateau, it is a great hiking, biking, horse, ATV recreation area. Not all of those activities take place on the same trails of course! :)

We were a bit early for the wildflowers, all I saw in the park were a few Trailing Arbutus and a single Bluet. Trailing Arbutus (left) is a very early bloomer. It loves acidic soil and is often found with Mountain Laurel, blueberry and Wintergreen plants. The flowers are quite fragrant and are often hidden under the leaves.

As we were driving up to the park (near Huntsville, TN) I remembered having seen Coltsfoot (right) leaves on a bank along the highway years ago. It too, is a very bloomer so I had always missed the flowers. Fortunately, I spotted some little yellow flowers on a bank. We turned the car around so I could get some photos (I have a very patient husband!). The flowers look a bit like dandelions without any leaves.

Since there weren't many wildflowers, I had to turn my attention elsewhere. There were lots of interesting lichens growing on the rocks, trees, and ground. I have always liked the British Soldier Lichen since I learned about it in Girl Scouts many years ago. I didn't realize how many different kinds there are until I got my Lichens of North America book! This one is Gritty British Soldier Lichen. I noticed some funny marks on a tree that looked somewhat like a giant chromosome! It was the mark of where a snail or slug had eaten the white lichen on the bark. That critter had been very busy! I enjoy looking for signs of animals when we hike, it is a real challenge!