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Old Jun 20, 2012, 7:55 PM   #1
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Default Some High Country Rambles

Have enjoyed a number of high country hikes recently, and taken far more photos than should be posted here. But will post a few samples, and perhaps some more in a few days.

Was up at Roan Mountain (and nearby Buck Mountain) to lead several late-spring hikes. The warm, moist weather was perfect for fungi. This species seems to specialize in dead and dying hemlock trees...
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 7:56 PM   #2
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We also spotted a very patient Appalachian Azure. This tiny butterfly specializes in Cohosh plants, and is commonest at the higher elevations. Here's one that let us creep up very close.
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 7:59 PM   #3
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Some of the Blue-Eyed Grass (not really a grass, actually a tiny iris) was still in bloom. Here's a close-up view of one just beginning to fade.
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 8:02 PM   #4
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Here's another lovely high-country flowering plant - usually rather scarce, but we found plenty in bloom at a small spring on Buck Mountain. It's a cousin of Mayapple called Umbrella Leaf. The leaves look like giant mayapple leaves, but the flowers are much smaller than mayapple flowers. Definitely worth a close look...
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 8:05 PM   #5
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Just one more glimpse from the Roan/Buck Mt hikes. A sharp-eyed hiker spotted this salamander working the rotten logs. It's a big, rather uncommon species endemic to our southern highlands - called the Yonahlossee Salamander. Isn't he cute!!
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Last edited by mole; Jun 20, 2012 at 8:27 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 8:11 PM   #6
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Now on to Rocky Fork Wilderness - lately one of my favorite hiking locations. It's a recently-acquired 10,000 acre tract here in Northeast Tennessee, incredibly rich and diverse. So I've been spending much time there, enjoying the wild country, and checking both plant and animal species.

Here are a few recent plants from Rocky Fork - an Astilbe that prefers the dense green shade, a shade-loving native Hydrangea, and a late-blooming wetland plant (beloved of damselflies) called Water Willow.
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 8:13 PM   #7
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Rocky Fork is drained by many fast-flowing rocky streams. As you might guess, the main stream is called Rocky Fork, but it has many tributaries. Here are a few views of almost-summer at one of those tributary streams - Lower Higgins Creek.
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 8:16 PM   #8
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There's a 100 foot high waterfall on Lower Higgins Creek, along with many smaller falls. I know I've posted far too many pictures of the big falls already, but here are just a few more, from some different perspectives. Any preference among these?
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 8:17 PM   #9
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These Catbriers are NOT a rare plant, but the clean water at Rocky Fork sure makes them flourish...
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 8:19 PM   #10
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Was surprised to see how many grasses are already ripening in the meadows at the edge of the wilderness area. These seeds will mean snacks for many of the small wild "critters" at Rocky Fork.
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