Archive for July, 2011

American Chestnut – Identification by Catkins

In May of 2008, Wayne Bowman of the Virginia Department of Forestry surprised me when he said winter was a great time to find American chestnuts. I was skeptical because the trees would be missing their leaves, but eight months later, I saw how right he was when some dark, blighted bark drew my eye to chestnuts near Mountain Lake.

At McAfee’s Knob last weekend, Ryan and I were able to spot a American chestnut from a distance thanks to another part of their anatomy– their catkins. We were up at the Southeast section of the Knob (the side facing Roanoke Airport). Looking East, we saw this:

McAfee's Knob - Chestnut Oak AND Behind It-- Catkins Give Away American Chestnut
One of the Many Rocks at the Top

In the foreground is a Chestnut Oak. But it was what was behind it that caught our attention. Back by the rocks– catkins.

McAfee's Knob - Blooming American Chestnut
Catkins By The Rocks

The passage was a little too tight for the pregnancy belly, but thin Ryan went closer to investigate.

McAfee's Knob - Ryan in Pursuit of Blooming American Chestnut
Ryan in Pursuit of Possible Chestnut

And we were right! The flowers were from an American chestnut blooming at the top of McAfee’s Knob on June 26, 2011.

McAfee's Knob - American Chestnut Catkins at Top (By Ryan Somma)
American Chestnut Catkins from McAfee’s Knob (Photo by Ryan Somma)

It goes to show that the more you know about a tree, the more it is going to stick out!

July 5, 2011 at 1:00 am 3 comments

More McAfee’s Knob Shots

The pregnant hiking shot I shared yesterday was definitely my favorite of our McAfee Knob hike this past weekend. But, there were a lot of other wonderful memories of Sunday’s hike. Here are some more shots I fancy.

The first time I visited McAfee’s Knob in 2003, I wrote in my journal that none of my other hikes prepared me for the view I would see at McAfee’s. We had great weather that day and the views did not disappoint.

McAfee's Knob - Knob and Tinker Cliffs
View – That’s Tinker Cliffs in the Background

McAfee's Knob - Vicky and Ryan
Me (33 Weeks) and Ryan at the Top – That’s Tinker Cliffs in the Background

McAfee's Knob - Ryan at Top.
Ryan at Top

In addition to lizards and millipedes, we saw a couple of deer, one with a surprisingly low flight distance.

McAfee's Knob - Millipede (By Ryan Somma)
Millipede (Photo by Ryan Somma)

McAfee's Knob - Deer (By Ryan Somma)
Deer in Powerline Field (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Flora – American Chestnuts
Along the way, we spotted four American chestnuts of decent sizes. There was one at the top of the knob that was flowering.

McAfee's Knob - American Chestnut Leaves From Below (By Ryan Somma)
American Chestnut Leaves From Below

McAfee's Knob - Switchback Chestnut Leaves From Below
An American Chestnut On the First Switchback After the Fireroad Intersection

McAfee's Knob - American Chestnut Catkins at Top (By Ryan Somma)
American Chestnut Catkins at Top

More pictures of our maternity visit to McAfee’s Knob are available on my Flickr site.

Additional Links:
My Other McAfee Knob Posts
Virginia Appalachian Trail License Plate with McAfee’s Knob

July 1, 2011 at 1:00 am 2 comments

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