Monday, August 23, 2010

Saturday August 21, 2010 Shrooms & Phobias

Extreme Shrooms and Phobias

Warm humid high 80s partly cloudy up to mid-afternoon followed by overcast and light sprinkles followed by late evening clearing and a three quarter moon.

The SNP staff at the boundary station is changing. Look for new faces, new personalities, and new styles. The elite Old Rag Boundary Station alumni grows a little larger.

Awesome mushroom specimens seen on this circuit.

Sometimes I am guilty of over photoshopping but not on this next photo. It truly was this very bright almost neon orange. I wonder if this mushroom is photo-luminescent at night?

April joined me up to the first false summit but her schedule required her to head home early. After saying goodbye to April I slowly made my way up to the summit which I left shortly before sunset and traveled out via the Saddle Trail and fire roads with about an hours worth of pleasant conversation with various back-country campers.
On the way up the rock scramble I ended up helping a group that had a member who was both extremely afraid of heights and determined that they were going to complete the hike despite their intense fears. This hiker bravely struggled with their phobia and many panic attacks as they negotiated their way up the scramble. Their intense panic attacks were complete with very rapid heavy breathing which in turn would lead to dizziness. With a tremendous amount of courage, discipline, patience and a strong will to succeed this hiker made it to the summit.
About half way down the Saddle Trail I ran into a group who had started way too late in the day to complete the hike during the daylight. One member of their party was having absolutely terrible quadriceps cramps which was slowing them down even more. They did have a couple of lights in their group but some members of the group were extremely nervous about hiking out in the dark. I decided to stay with them on their trip out. They provided good conversation and company.
One member of the group was borderline panicked about the dark. The walk out turned out to be an early House of Horrors experience for this hiker complete with arm grabbing blood-curdling screams whenever an acrobatic bat snatched a bug a few feet in front of our faces. Then there were the sharp inhales and whispered "What was that?" whenever there was a noise outside our lights' cones of illumination. It was good for this person that this was NOT one of those nights when a random illumination of the woods reveals ten or fifteen bright pinpoints of light from the eye-glow of spiders. Of course suddenly coming across a big fat Copperhead that slithered across our path just eight feet in front of us on Nethers Road by the blue barrel provided the perfect grand finale for this hikers fearful hike out.

A picture of April just before she had to head home earlier in the day.

Lots of Woodland Sunflowers (Hellianthus divarcutus)
I am always a sucker for a big healthy Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio claucus)

Allegany Chinkapin, Chinese Chestnut, American Chestnut or Hybrid? I believe it to be an American Chestnut but am not completely sure. I will know more once its burrs begin to split this fall and may send a leaf to the American Chestnut Foundation for confirmation.

If you are a woodland critter that makes part of your living from foraging nuts it appears that it is going to be a good mast year.

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