Monday, September 12, 2011

All Mushrooms Great and Small and a Waterfall

After all of the rain we received last week (five straight days of downpour), we headed for a waterfall yesterday.  South River Falls is at the very south end of the central district of Shenandoah National Park, almost at Swift Run Gap.  The hike starts at the South River Picnic Area.  We figured there would be a fair number of people there since it was bright, sunny, and relatively cool.  When we arrived, a few people were picnicking, but only four or five cars were parked near the trailhead.  While we put our boots on, a couple finishing their backpacking trip, drove away in one of the cars.  We decided to hike to the falls first, hoping that we would beat any crowds that might come later.

Inspired by Shenandoah Mountains Guide's recent post, we started looking for mushrooms.  The heavy rains last week have them popping up everywhere.  We were not disappointed, but it took us a long time to hike the 2 miles down to South River Falls.  Everywhere we turned, there were more interesting mushrooms in a myriad of colors.  At the falls, we had lunch and spent some time taking pictures of them.

Finally, it was time to move on.  We had spent almost two hours to cover two miles and we still had eight to go.  We made good time climbing out of the ravine.  We turned right on the South River Fire Road, which continued to climb.  Based on the amount of grass and number of mushrooms on the trail, few people ever hike this part of the loop.  Parts of it were lined with goldenrods and asters.

We took a short detour to a cemetery when we reached the Pocosin Trail.  Unlike some of the cemetery's closer to the boundary of the park, this one was pretty overgrown.  Some of the tombstones looked relatively recent, but they were surrounded by sunflowers and other plants.  Back on trail, we found more interesting mushrooms and flowers.  At the junction of the Pocosin Trail and the Pocosin Fire Road, there are ruins from an old Episcopal mission, which was established in 1904 to serve the local community.

From the ruins, we climbed the Pocosin Fire Road for a mile to the Appalachian Trail, where we turned left and hiked three miles back to the car.  Near the top of Baldface Mountain, we found the last interesting mushrooms of the trip, purple ones.

This was a nice 10.3 mile hike.  All said and done, we saw fewer than 10 people the entire day.

If anyone knows about mushrooms, let me know and I'll post the identifications.  I know very little about them (other than how to identify morels).

Pictures (click to enlarge):
 A white fungus that looks a little like coral.
 A tiny turquoise fungus on the same log as the coral fungus above.
 A pretty orange mushroom.
 Little parasol mushrooms.
 More orange mushrooms.
 Tiny little orange toadstools
 A giant white mushroom.  The cap on this one was nearly six inches across.
 A purple mushroom on Baldface Mountain
 South River Falls.  I used a neutral density filter and a one second exposure for this one.
 Another view of South River Falls.  This one is a 2.5 second exposure.
 Ipatiens pallida (Pale Jewelweed) at South River Falls
 Solanum nigrum (Deadly Nightshade).  I am not 100% certain that this is right. 
 Aureolaria flava (False Foxglove)
 Chelone glabra (Turtlehead) at South River Falls.
 I am still working on the identification of this one.
 Lobelia inflata (Indian Tobacco).
 An interesting insect on a Goldenrod.
 Aster acuminatus (Mountain Aster) on Baldface Mountain.
 Lactuca floridana (Tall Blue Lettuce)
 I'm still working on this one, too, but I think it is a Hawkweed.
 Old Rag from the Pinnacles overlook on the way home.
Sunset from the Pinnacles overlook.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, the colors are so pretty! And I think that's the biggest mushroom I've seen. After you dry your mushrooms, what do you do with them?

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