John’s Creek Mountain Trail – A Tale of Trees

April 1, 2007 at 8:18 pm 2 comments

The Saturday before skiing, the dogs and I finally checked out John’s Creek Mountain Trail.  John’s Creek Mountain Trail intersects the Appalachian Trail south of Kelly’s Knob, so I’ve passed it a lot in the past but never laid a foot on it.  Turns out it is a pretty nice trail that goes about four miles one way from VA-658 to the Appalachian Trail.  Most of the time you are hiking on a ridge, so I got to sneak a lot views between the bare trees.  However, it is the trees themselves that will be the most memorable part of this hike.

Giant Tree Tumor
First off, shortly after the VA-658 trailhead, I encountered the biggest tree tumor I’ve ever seen!  I stopped as I initially approached the tree and took a picture thinking, “Wow, what a big tumor.”  Little did I know, I was only looking at the tip of the iceberg!  For a size comparison, Jimmie is present in both pictures.  He weighs 56 pounds.

Think this tree tumor is big?  Bah!  You haven’t seen big!

Now *that’s* big!

Magical Mountain Laurel
At one point, the dogs and I hit a thick patch of mountain laurel.  Some of the leaves were angled just right so that the sun reflected right off of them.  As you moved, the angles changed and different leaves would reflect differently.  So as we progressed through the section, it was as if we were wandering through a twinkling wonderland. 

In his earlier work, Ansel Adams felt that his pictures did not fully capture just how majestic the sites of Yosemite were.  Even as I held up my camera, I knew my pictures would not do this section justice.  But, that didn’t stop me from trying  🙂

Twinkling Mountain Laurel Wonderland

Metal vs. Painted Blazes
In 1924, Major William A. Welch and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy designed this diamond-shaped metal marker which was used to blaze the AT:

Replicas of the AT Metal Markers can be purchased at Sun Dog Outfitters

The use of the metal markers has been largely discontinued and the 2″ by 6″ white paint blaze is now the standard.  I may have seen one reason why that shift was made. 

About halfway between VA-658 and the Appalachian Trail, I ran into this tree.  Just like the tree I saw at Bottom Creek Gorge, this tree had devoured a foreign object in its path.  The metal blaze was almost entirely absorbed by the tree.  Meanwhile, the painted blaze remained in tact:

This tree has devoured the metal blaze

I thought I was looking at a unique occurence, much like the giant tree tumor, but I found numerous trees rebelling against the metal blazes in the same manner.  Some were ever so slowly prying the nail out of their trunks:

Trees Eating Metal Blazes

Of course, no blaze is perfect.  The painted blazes have their downfalls too.  Just off the top of my head, lichen can grow on them and obscure the mark:

Yellow Blaze Being Eaten By Something Else– Lichen

More pictures from my John’s Creek Mountain Trail hike are available on my Flickr site.

Entry filed under: Appalachian Trail, Blaze, Hiking, Jimmie, John's Creek Mountain, Kelly's Knob, Lichen, Mountain Laurel.

Cincinnati Airport, Catch 22 and Intelligent Design Skiing Synopsis

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Future of Blazing - Duct Tape? « TGAW  |  May 20, 2007 at 11:23 pm

    […] 20th, 2007 In my post about John’s Creek Mountain Trail, I discussed the metal and painted blazes I encountered.  Both had their pitfalls.  Metal blazes […]

  • 2. Hungry Tree – Human Heads « TGAW  |  May 19, 2010 at 8:08 am

    […] 19, 2010 Three years ago on John’s Creek Mountain Trail, I observed a large number of metal blazes being absorbed by their host […]


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