Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Old Rag: The Ursine Edition

We volunteered on Old Rag on Sunday. It was mostly a quiet, uneventful day. It started gray and cloudy, which kept most of the crowds away. We hiked up the Weakley Hollow Fire Road, going the opposite direction of most people who hike the mountain. We only saw a few people headed down. Summer flowers are in full bloom.
Penstemon canescens (Gray Beard-tongue) on the fire road.
A Daddy Long-Legs on a Striped Maple leaf
Asclepias exaltata (Tall Milkweed) on the fire road.
When we got to the summit, the clouds were beginning to lift. I heard one kid say the tops of the trees looked like broccoli down below, which isn't too far off.
I was wandering around the summit and I found this ancient Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) with Hay-Scented Ferns (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) surrounding it. It looked like a little groomed garden with an oversized bonsai tree.
Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel) just below the summit.
A small moth on a leaf near the summit.
 The spot where I always take a picture. It is much more grown in than it was a month ago.
 Amiantium muscaetoxicum (Fly Poison), which is a member of the Lily Family.
Then we saw this guy. About a quarter mile above this point, we started hearing other hikers talking about a bear near the trail. Sure enough, it wasn't far from the trail at all. It was turning over rocks looking for insects and grubs to eat.
We watched it for a while and talked to hikers about the bear. My guess, based on size (maybe 200 pounds) is that it is a yearling, probably male.
It wandered around for several minutes, not paying much attention to the group of a dozen people quietly watching. Finally, it approached the trail a little too closely. Michael made some noise and it wandered off into the woods. It is rare to get to watch one for as long we did.
 After that, we had a quiet walk down to the car. A butterfly on the flower stalk of Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa)
Coreopsis verticillata (Woodlands Coreopsis) on the Ridge Trail.

1 comment:

  1. The butterfly is an Appalachian Azure; impossible to tell from other Azure species by sight, but if you see one ovipositing on black cohosh then you know it is this species. A few weeks ago I saw an Azure ovipositing on new jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus) off the White Oak Canyon trail and thus knew it was a Summer Azure. This info is from "Butterflies of the East Coast" by Cech and Tudor, highly recommended for those interested in these marvelous insects.