Archive for April, 2009

The American Chestnut Foundation on Facebook

The American Chestnut Foundation is now on Facebook! Want to read about chestnut news and events while you are already perusing Facebook? Or better yet, want to donate to their cause online? Become a fan of their page!

April 30, 2009 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

Season Compare: Hertford Tree Memorial

I’ve been keeping an eye on the Tree Memorial in Hertford, North Carolina, hoping to catch all the cherry blooms. I was there most recently on Easter Sunday. Redbuds and some of the dogwoods were out, but the cherries had yet to show their full glory. Nonetheless, I still snagged a few shots to make a season compare.

Tree Park
Hertford Tree Memorial – December 7, 2008

Hertford Tree Memorial - Spring View
Hertford Tree Memorial – April 12, 2009

More pictures of the Hertford Tree Memorial in December and in April can be found on my Flickr site.

April 30, 2009 at 8:03 am 1 comment

Arbor Day: Wyoming

Cottonwood Canoe
(Photo courtesy of wanna be davinci)
Happy Arbor Day, Wyoming!
Wyoming celebrates its Arbor Day the last Monday of April, so Happy Arbor Day Wyoming!

Like Kansas and Nebraska, Wyoming selected the Cottonwood (Populus deltoides) as its state tree. The North Dakota Forest Service believes “Cottonwoods contributed more to the success [of the Lewis and Clark] Expedition than any other tree!” Indeed, cottonwood played many roles. The bark and twigs were used to feed horses. The inner bark was a sweetener and had medicinal value for humans. The wood was used to smoke and weather proof clothing. Finally, cottonwood trees were dug out to make canoes. Since 80% of their journey was on water, the canoes provided by cottonwood (and later Ponderosa Pines) proved to be valuable assets.

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at

April 27, 2009 at 6:00 am 2 comments

Weekly Winners – April 19 – April 25, 2009

This week’s Weekly Winner’s represent two states. First, I have a shot from Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The rest are from a hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. On Saturday, a friend and I ascended Flat Top Mountain at the Peaks of Otter.

Elizabeth City - Geese and Museum of the Albemarle (Close)
Sunset, Elizabeth City

Flat Top - Kid and View
Boy Enjoys View, Flat Top

Flat Top - Lichen On Boulder
Lichen on Boulder, Flat Top

Flat Top - Texting at Top (Far)
Texting at Top, Flat Top

Flat Top - Sharp Top, Clouds and Branches
Sharp Top (Once thought to be the Tallest Mountain in Virginia), Flat Top

More pictures of the Flat Top Mountain Hike are available on my Flickr site.

Also, be sure to check out more of this week’s Weekly Winners out at Sarcastic Mom!

April 26, 2009 at 10:37 pm 1 comment

Roanoke Outdoor and Social Club Hiker Challenge – Advanced Hiker

On Saturday, James I. and I ascended Flat Top at Peaks of Otter. That was the last hike I needed to complete the Roanoke Outdoor and Social Club’s Advanced Hiker category in their Hiker Challenge.  They have challenged their members to do specific area hikes and submit photographs of themselves at the top.  If the Hiker Challenge page is up to date, then I’m the second hiker and the first female to finish that category! : )

Advanced Hiker:

Vicky Dogs Top Dragon’s Tooth
View in Summer McAfee’s Knob
Tinker Cliffs - Vicky Tinker Cliffs
Flat Top - Vicky with Sharp Top Flat Top
Vicky and James Sharp Top
Kelly's Knob 2006 - Vicky At Top Kelly’s Knob
Vicky, Henry, Jimmie Angel’s Rest
Carvin Cove / Hay Rock Overlook

For more information on the Hiker Challenge, check out the Roanoke Outdoor and Social Club.

April 26, 2009 at 10:18 pm 3 comments

Arbor Day: Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota…. [Taking Deep Breath]…. Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin….. and U.S.A.

Happy Arbor Day! Today is the national Arbor Day for the U.S. In addition, numerous states have adopted the last Friday of April as their Arbor Day as well. That means there are a lot of trees to cover.

The Oaks

In 2006, Congress made it official. The United States of America had a national tree. The Oak.

The Angel Oak (Photo by zeynep’arkok)

Our nation’s affection for oaks could been seen well before Congress designated a national tree. Keffer Oak, Wye Oak, Emancipation Oak, Angel Oak. Just like a trusted dog, a loving cat or favorite automobile, we name our oaks.

The District of Columbia and a number of states selected an oak species as their state tree, four of which celebrate Arbor Day today.

District of Columbia
Scarlet Oak
(Photo by pellaea)
White Oak
(Photo by Tie Guy II)
(Photo by lyle58)
New Jersey
Northern Red Oak
(Photo by Maggie and Her Camera)
White Oak
(Photo by Tie Guy II)

The Pines

Five states celebrating their Arbor Days today selected a pine species as their state tree.

Western White Pine
(Photo by axelkr)
Eastern White Pine
(Photo by prefers salt marsh)
Red Pine
(Photo by esagor)
Ponderosa Pine
(Photo by keepitsurreal)
Bristlecone Pine and Singleleaf Pinon
(Photo by jb18t)

The Spruces

Two states celebrating their Arbor Day today selected a spruce as their state tree.

South Dakota
Black Hills Spruce
(Photo by ragesoss)
Blue Spruce
(Photo by chefranden)

The Maples

Three states celebrating Arbor Day today selected a maple as their state tree.

New York
Sugar Maple
(Photo by RunnerJenny)
Rhode Island
Red Maple
(Photo by p-h-o-t-o-l-i-f-e)
Sugar Maple
(Photo by poppy2323)

The Cottonwoods

Two states celebrating today share Cottonwood as their state tree.

(Photo by caddymob)
(Photo by georgeogoodman)

The Threatened

Two states celebrating Arbor Day today find their state tree under attack. Massachusett’s American Elm battles the Dutch Elm Disease. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s Eastern Hemlock battles struggles against the woolly adelgid.

American Elm
(Photo by Mike Rollinger)
Eastern Hemlock
(Photo by Cornell Fungi)

The Rest

Even with all those other categories, we still have six states left celebrating their Arbor Day today!

(Photo by DarkGuru)
American Holly
(Photo by Noël Zia Lee)
New Hampshire
Paper Birch
(Photo by backpackphotography)
Ohio Buckeye
(Photo by JimmyMac210)
Hertford Tree Memorial - Dogwood Blossoms From Below Virginia
(Photo by Old Shoe Woman)

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at

April 24, 2009 at 10:53 pm 5 comments

Fred Lynn Flu Hits Appalachian Trail?

When I was in eighth grade, a rapid spreading stomach flu spread through my middle school and a vast majority of the students, including myself, became violently ill. So many people were sick, school actually closed down. My former classmates and I still find occassion to talk about the incident every now and then. We refer to it as the “Fred Lynn Flu”

Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail is a challenge when you are healthy. Imagine what it’s like if you are ill! I’ve been following the blogs a few of the 2009 thru-hikers this year and it looks like one group south of Damascus has an added obstacle– something as contagious and as miserable as the infamous Fred Lynn Flu.

Excerpts from

April 17, 2009 Entry

…About 11 last night I feel it and throwup in my hammock all over sleeping bag and clothes. I couldn’t stop. I got out and put on what few clothes I had left then went to the fire. I stayed there till 3am then figured I would hike the six miles to kincora hostel. I made it to the hostile this morning and washed my bag, hammock, etc….

April 20, 2009 Entry

What’s going on? That’s what we would like to know. We all cooked out at Watauga and later that night three people got sick. Four people left on the 19th and Pokey, Glowworm and I stayed behind to help. Later Glowworm got sick so it was just Pokey and I. Everyone else was sick for most of the day. Today we moved on and 7 miles later we ran into 3 of the 4 that had left the day before and they were all puking. Two others we stayed with at the hostile are sick as well. We all just want to get to Damascus at this point…

April 21, 2009 Entry

The saga continues. Two more are out for the count today….

But things are looking up! 

April 22, 2009 Entry

Finally a night where no one got sick.

Hopefully it stays that way!

April 23, 2009 at 10:00 am 6 comments

Phytoremediating Doritos Bags and Soda Cans

In addition to recycling baldcypress trees, nature can also clean up contaminants, preventing them from seeping into the water table. The process is called “phytoremediation“. Here in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the U.S. Coast Guard base is using willow and poplar trees to clean up an old fuel farm site.

Phytoremediation at Work in Elizabeth City, North Carolina
(Photo by Ryan Somma)

On an evening walk at Camden Causeway Park a few weeks ago, I saw another example of Elizabeth City trees participating in a cleanup effort. From what I can tell in my five months here, the Camden Causeway Park tends to be especially prone to litter. Just as trees absorb metal blazes, fences and even gravestones, the trees at Camden Causeway Park aren’t deterred by the garbage they encounter on the swamp floor. As the trees grow, they simply trap the debris in their network of roots.

It is the fallen individuals that expose the trees as trash collectors (not to mention how extensive the litter is). With their roots exposed, you can see all the items they picked up through the years. Beer cans, soda bottles, honey bun wrappers, potato chip bags, you name it.

Camden Causeway Park - Trash Collector
More Garbage than a Backpacking Trip!

Through phytoremediation, trees can clean up some pretty dangerous metals and chemicals.

Apparently, they can tackle American junk food packages as well. : )

April 23, 2009 at 5:00 am 2 comments

Hearts in Nature: Spitzbergen’s Lake at Borebukta

Norway’s Spitzbergen island, located in the Artic, is home to the Global Seed Vault. It is now also home to a Heart in Nature at Borebukta. Melting glaciers created a heart-like hole in the ground which has filled with water, resulting a heart-shaped lake.

You can read more about the lake and see a copyrighted photo by Bruno Mazodier in Fiona Macrae’s article The Lake That Cupid Made. (Hat Tip, Matt C)

If you would like to see more photos of the island, the Library of Congress PhotoStream has a collection of Spitzbergen shots from 1890 – 1900. For a more contemporary look at the area, Flickr user golden_road has a stunning set from July 2007.

April 22, 2009 at 9:49 am Leave a comment

Recycling Baldcypress Trees

Happy Earth Day!  Today, events will be held around the world to raise awareness about the environment.  There will be discussions about sustainability and recycling will be a hot topic.  A number of communities are holding recycling events.  Abbottford, British Columbia is doing an open house at their recycling facilities and Stuyvesant, Pennsylvania is even conducting something called a “recycling race”.

Nature has been a predecessor and on more than one occassion, the inspiration, of human processes and products.  Velcro was inspired when George de Mestral and his dog kept picking up burrs in the Alps.  Mimicking the bumps on humpback whale fins may prove to increase the efficiency of wind turbines.  And when it comes to recycling, once again nature serves as an excellent role model.

Here in Elizabeth City, North Carolina I get to see nature recycle with almost every outdoor adventure.  In particular, I witness reuse of the beautiful baldcypress trees.  Baldcypress trees can grow in water.  When the tree dies, other species find the remains to be attractive real estate in the swamps and rivers.  I definitely expected to see moss, but I do have to say I was surprised by how commonly shrubs and trees take root in old stumps.  The recycling effort isn’t offlimits to the animal kingdom.  Barnacles and Canadian Geese are involved as well.

In celebration of Earth Day and the power of recycling, here are photos of nature reusing baldcypress trees.

Merchant's Millpond State Park - Lassiter Swamp - Moss on Fallen Tree
Moss Takes Over Fallen Tree, Lassiter Swamp

Camden Causeway Park - New Life Out of Stump (Close)
Small Plants Find a Home, Camden Causeway Park

Merchant's Millpond Canoeing - Nature Takes Over Large Stump
Shrubs on a Safe Platform, Merchant Millpond

Merchant's Millpond Canoeing - Pine in Old Stump (Close)
Pine Tree Thrives, Merchant Millpond

Newbold-White House - Third Tree in Tree Lit Up
Tree Inside a Tree, Newbold-White House

Newbold-White House - Tree Grows on Cypress Stump in River (Close)
Baby Tree, Perquimans River

Camden - Barnacles on Old Cypress Roots 2
Barnacles, Pasquotank River

Merchant's Millpond Canoeing - Goose Eggs
Canadian Goose Nest, Merchant’s Millpond

April 22, 2009 at 12:00 am 1 comment

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