Sunday, September 7, 2014

Old Rag: Late Summer Flowers and Storms

We volunteered on Old Rag with Old Rag Mountain Stewards last Sunday (I've been a bit behind in getting a post up). It was crowded and my first interaction with a visitor was him telling me he was basically going to hike the mountain come hell or high water (dogs are not allowed on Old Rag). After that fabulous start to the day, though, everyone was pretty friendly. The late summer flowers are blooming like crazy. It was hot and we wound up providing chlorine tablets to more than one group who ran out of water. Hopefully, next time those folks will bring a bit more than a 20 ounce bottle of water for a 9 mile hike on an 85 degree day. All in all, it was a pretty good day.
Corallorhiza odontorhiza (Autumn Coralroot). This was a pretty spectacular find, even if it is a pretty plain-looking flower. It is a member of the orchid family and I had not seen one of them before.
Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower). There is a great stand of these in a damp area near the junction of the Weakley Hollow Fire Road and the Old Rag Fire Road.
A spider on a rock at Byrd's Nest Shelter.
 Ageratina altissima (White Snakeroot). These were blooming all over near Byrd's Nest Shelter.
This butterfly hung around for quite a while and let me photograph it (if anyone knows what it is, let me know in the comments and I'll post it here).
Another shot of the butterfly
Helianthus divaricatus (Woodland Sunflower)
 Campanula divaricata (Southern Harebell). These are such pretty little flowers.
A building thunderstorm north of Old Rag. We watched storms pass to the north of us all afternoon and just got lucky that they missed us until early evening when a small storm passed over us.
The ravens were out in full force on Sunday. One of my favorite things about fall is watching them play in the afternoon winds.
Another raven.
 Oclemena acuminata (Mountain Aster) near the summit.
 The spot where I always take a picture. The summer vegetation is starting to die back.
 Rudebeckia triloba (Three-lobed coneflower). I'm not sure about this one, so if it appears to be wrong, let me know.
Lespedeza hirta (Hairy Bush Clover). This is another new species to me. It is amazing that one can hike the same trail as many times as I have and still run across new species. I love that about the mountain. There is always something new to see, even where I've walked dozens of times.
When I'm out on Old Rag now, I try to take pictures in areas where I haven't done so before. This is looking down the staircase formed by a basaltic dike.
Evening storms rolling across the Blue Ridge. The wall of rain over the mountains in the left of the photo hit us about 15 minutes after I took the picture.

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