Archive for August, 2009
When the Bucket List Meme circulated Facebook, I did have one item to add to the checklist.
“Picking and eating wild blackberries on a hot summer day”
They are tasty. They are refreshing. And when you have really earned them– when you are hot and tired and saturated in sweat– surprise blackberries can actually alter the buoyancy of one’s soul.
I was so focused on looking for mushrooms during the Keffer Oak hike, that I totally forgot about the best part of hiking in August. Unfortunately by the time we encountered the blackberries on the trail, Tony Airaghi and I had (perhaps irresponsibly) handled nearly a dozen different types of mushrooms. We couldn’t possibly use our tainted hands. Did that mean we had to be deprived of one of life’s simplest and most fulfilling pleasures?
Nope! : )
Earlier this year, I ran across a wonderful quote by Alexander Graham Bell:
We are all too much inclined to walk through life with our eyes shut. There are things all around us, and right at our very feet, that we have never seen; because we have never really looked.
Bell’s thoughts were particularly fitting a few weeks ago when Tony Airaghi and I hiked the 0.6 miles to the giant Keffer Oak. We brought along a copy of the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. With our eyes on the lookout, this section of trail– mind you a section I have done numerous times before– unveiled a whole other world. We found mushrooms all around us, sometimes right at our very feet.
Possible Chrome Footed Bolete
Possible Yellow Unicorn Entoloma
Some Kind of Cup Mushroom
Possible Walnut Mycena Mushroom
Possible Emetic Russula
Possible Spindle Shaped Yellow Coral
Possible Tacky Green Russula
We found so many mushrooms, in fact, our journey to the Keffer Oak was incredibly slow. Every few steps, we spotted another specimen and began flipping through the field guide again.
It took us well over an hour to make it to the tree. Where, with our eyes calibrated for fungus, we discovered yet another mushroom– this one growing right on the giant oak. : )
With all these new discoveries on a familiar section of trail, I have to applaud Alexander Graham Bell. When it came to fungus, I was all too inclined to walk this section with my eyes shut.
P.S. Do not eat anything based on my photo captions. We are beginners and have very little confidence in our identifications!
|Appalachian Trail – Keffer Oak
Length: 1.2 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: There is a brief hill near the beginning of the trail, but nothing too scary.
Driving and Parking: The roads are all paved and there is a small gravel parking lot at the VA-630 trailhead.
Directions from Blacksburg, VA
Turn right on VA-629
Last week I noted a spike in my hits and I saw an abnormal amount of views to one of my Caldwell Fields posts. Upon investigation, I discovered the reason. It was not something to celebrate.
The bodies of David Lee Metzler, 19, of Lynchburg and Heidi Lynn Childs, 18, of Forest were discovered early Thursday by a passerby at Jefferson National Forest, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Lt. Brian Wright said. Both had been shot.
Wright said Metzler’s body was found inside a car in the parking area of the Caldwell Fields campground, and Childs was found outside the car. The campground is about 15 miles from Virginia Tech’s campus in Blacksburg.
Caldwell Fields is such a beautiful place. I know a couple who got married there. That’s a event fitting of the locale. Caldwell Fields should be used for new beginnings. Not abrupt and unwarranted endings.
My heartfelt sentiments to the families.
Earlier this week, I posted about the practice of painting Pipal leaves. Pipal trees have a special place in history. It was under a pipal tree that Siddhartha Gautama obtained enlightenment. Thereafter he was known as…Buddha.
Today’s Heart in Nature is courtesy of Barney’s Star and highlights that sacred species of tree.
Baby Pipal Leaves (Photo Courtesy of Barney’s Star)
Saturday August 15th, Tony Airaghi and I hiked up to the Appalachian Trail’s Keffer Oak, one of the largest blazed trees on the trail. A couple of things have changed since I visited last.
The old rickety step-ladder stile has been replaced with a new walk-through stile. (I had to do research to find out the official name of the new design. I formerly called them “Fat People Traps”).
Old Branch : (
On the other side of the tree, we saw a casualty of the oak’s age. The tree has one less branch.
The hike to Keffer Oak is only 0.6 miles one way. This short little hike and this one tree demonstrate how the Appalachian Trail is always changing. It’s always a little different.
I found a lot fascinating at the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum in Ocean City, Maryland. Here’s another item:
EAST INDIAN LEAF PAINTING
Sacred to Hindus and Buddhists, the leaves of the pipal or bho tree, are often used in India by folk artists as canvasses to paint miniature accounts of historical or religious scenes, Believe It or Not!
Upon research, I found this practice continues today. Though…the technique, not to mention the content, appears to be a little more modern. : )
Michael Jackson Pipal Leaf, one of many designs from InALeaf.com.
Here’s another find from the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.
Here’s how it’s described:
Tribal Suspension Hook
Believe It or Not!, this well-carved hook figure served as a cupboard, or warddrobe, in an aboriginal village in New Guinea! Called a suspension hook, it held food baskets or clothing safely under the rafters of a village home. The carved face of a revered ancestor protected both the good and the house itself from evil spirits.
Man. Forget carabiners and rope. Now THIS is a bear bag!