Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Andy Kunkle, Jack Thyen, Joel (sorry, I forgot Joel's last name), my son Andy, and I gathered on Sunday for a hike in the Mackey Mountain area near Curtis Creek in the Pisgah National Forest here in North Carolina.

Jack Thyen, My son Andy, and Joel hike through a dying hemlock forest.

The area's a good one for hiking with lots of impressive peaks, some good waterfalls, and patches of virgin forest here and there. In fact, we hiked near some old growth forests, but as our schedule and trail conditions would have it, we didn't actually get to take a close look at any really big trees.

The main purpose of the hike was to get a look to see how this year's crop of wildflowers was doing. We did see a fair amount of wildflowers, but nothing really spectacular, except for some very vigorous and colorful patches of Dwarf iris. There were other flowers popping up, but nothing that particularly impressed me.

We bagged one peak, that being Buckeye Knob, which tops out at a bit over 3,200 feet. Not very high by North Carolina standards, but the long hike to the summit was tough. The weather was hot, dry, and the ridgelines were parched out from lack of rain. One thing that I learned, to my horror and disgust, was that these woods are PACKED with
ticks. This seems to me to be a good indication of the effects of global warming. I've been hiking and backpacking the southern Appalachians for well over thirty years, and I'd only ever gotten a single tick on me while in the high country--that being on Pinnacle Mountain in South Carolina a few years back. But on this trip I pulled eight ticks off my shins and thighs!

The guys on the hike who used Deet, however, didn't get any ticks on them. I didn't use any, and pretty much got covered with them. Next time I'll use the Deet.

This was a very tough hike for me. Once again I was reminded of my age, and of how out of shape I've gotten over the past year. I felt every ounce of the twenty pounds I gained after walking away from the diet in early 2007. One realizes the extra poundage as you labor up a steep slope on the way to a summit. It sucks! I keep telling myself that I'm going to shed those twenty damned pounds of lard, but then I go back the flatlands and eat fried chicken. Alas!

Oh, well. I'm going to give it another shot. Twenty pounds--I can lose that much.

Early azalea. We found a few of these opening up.


I have no idea what these are. But there were lots of them.

I'm told that these are called Dwarf iris. Probably the prettiest flowers I saw all day. We'd pass large patches of them making wonderful color upon the forest floor.

More unknown. A small, delicate flower.

I am ignorant of this one, too. But it made for a great photo.

The first waterfall, with Boone pausing between splashing time.

Andy Kunkle taking a photo of azalea while I take a photo of Andy taking a photo of the azalea.

Some tree beginning to blossom. Another mystery for me.

My son, Andy, at a small waterfall along the trail.

These looked like tiny white bells. Very pretty. I don't know what it is.

I was told what these are, but I've forgotten. These were also on the forest floor in great abundance.



The DPS Kid said...


I was looking at the wildflowers from this post and hoped to assist.

The first is not an azalea but a Carolina Rhododendron(Rhododendron carolinianum). White blossoms are less common. The large, elliptical, waxy leaves are a dead giveaway.

#2. Not violets but wild geraniums(Geranium maculatum)#3. Fleabane(Erigeron philadelphicus). This spring-blooming Aster is identifiable by the large number of ray flowers which are generally whitish-purple to lilac in color. The stems are covered with fine, downy hairs.

#4. Correct Bob. Specifically the Dwarf crested iris.(Iris cristata) Beautiful flower indeed.

#5. Star chickweed(Stellaria pubera). Actually, the blossoms are quite small and the petals deeply clefted giving the appearance of ten when there are only five.

#6. Dog hobble(Leucothoe editorum). Very dense and aggressive grower.

#7. I have no idea. The blossom is still opening and I just couldn't tell big guy. It's from a tree or shrub.

#8. Bob, these are Sourwood or Sorrell tree blossoms(Oxydendrum arboreum). Definitely a tree flower, not ground cover or shrub.

#9. Foam flowers(Tiarella cordifolia). The genus name is derived from the Greek word tiara, a turban worn by the Persians. This refers to the shape of the pistil.

#10. Definitely a VIOLET.

HemlockMan said...


Yeah, Foam flower! It was identified for me on the hike, but I forgot by the time I got home.

Yeah, the bell-looking stuff was a tree, not a wildflower. Way up off the forest floor.