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Old May 30, 2011, 6:07 PM   #1
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Default It's almost summer on Unaka Mountain

Took a little hike up from Limestone Cove to Horseback Ridge on Unaka Mt the other day. It's a fine climb, up from the valley to the green high country. Was a fine warm day, and lush with green life everywhere!
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Old May 30, 2011, 6:09 PM   #2
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The slopes up Unaka Mountain are a temperate rain forest, and so are also lush with many and varied fungi. Here are "Dead Man's Fingers," Coral Fungus, and (I think) Chanterelle.
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Old May 30, 2011, 6:11 PM   #3
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It's also a great place for the "little critters!" Here are some Ebony Jewelwings mating, and a Hackberry Emperor enjoying the salty sweat deposits on a bridge handrail...
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Old May 30, 2011, 6:13 PM   #4
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Another "little critter" who was very abundant at Unaka Mt are these large snails called White-Lipped Forest snails. The snail doesn't have white lips - its shell does!
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Old May 30, 2011, 6:17 PM   #5
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There;s been a recent hatching of Periodic Cicadas. Unlike the (later in the summer) Dog Day "locusts' which we see every year, this group of periodic cicadas hatch out after 13 years in the ground. East Tennessee is on the edge of the latest hatching - they are much more abundant further west and south. But we saw a few out and active...
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Old May 30, 2011, 6:20 PM   #6
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It's a good steady, steep climb up Unaka Mountain. When we were almost to the crest of Stamping Ground Ridge, we came upon a fine little grove of Catawba Rhododendrons in full bloom. Not as abundant as they will be at Roan Mountain in a few weeks, but still a fine display. Here are several views - any preferences?
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Old May 30, 2011, 6:22 PM   #7
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Of course, the big attraction of the top are the great views. We enjoyed this fine summer-like day from the crest of Stamping Ground Ridge and Horseback Ridge...
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Old May 30, 2011, 6:24 PM   #8
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Hke back down was much quicker - dogs were eager to get back to the small stream for a good drink!
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Old May 30, 2011, 6:26 PM   #9
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These little mt streams are also great habitat - here's a musk turtle (often called "stinkpot turtle") that would be very much at home near the base of Unaka!
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Old May 30, 2011, 6:29 PM   #10
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Hope you enjoyed this little 9-10 mile hike up and down the mountain! If you want an easier trip next time, there is an old road up on Unaka (Unaka Mt Road), but it's so much more fun to hike and see the changing landscape up close & personal!

Thanks for sharing your comments & critique!
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