Posts filed under ‘John’s Creek Mountain’

Hungry Tree – Human Heads

Three years ago on John’s Creek Mountain Trail, I observed a large number of metal blazes being absorbed by their host trees:

Flashback to John’s Creek Mountain Blazes

The phenomenon is MUCH more amusing, however, when there is a little hiker on the metal blaze:

Credit: ????

(Hat Tip, Dave O!)

May 19, 2010 at 8:08 am 5 comments

Quick Trip, Quick Post

I worked in Roanoke again today, but still managed to get outside before dark.  The dogs and I did just the ascent from VA-601 towards Kelly’s Knob.  I am horribly slow on the uphills, so I targetted this section because it had the best ratio of steepness to driving distance.  My intent was pure practice, but I ended up taking lots of pictures on the way back down.  Some shots:

Jimmie off the AT

Some ferns off the AT

A Fence Post off of VA-601

Blooming Season – Azaleas, Mountain Laurel and Rhodos

If  I recall correctly, azaleas usually bloom first, then mountain laurel and then finally my favorite of all evergreens (suck it, Christmas Tree!)–  the wild* rhododendron.  I saw some azaleas already blooming (pink and orange varieties) and the mountain laurel was getting poised.  Before we know it, Southwest Virginia is going to be in its prime rhodo season.  Rhodos are pretty prevalent on the trail around here, but I would rank Angel’s Rest (Pearisburg, VA), Dragon’s Tooth (Catawba, VA) and, of course, famous Rhododendron Gap (Marion, VA) as some of the better spots.

Pink Azaleas Blooming

Mountain Laurel at Sunset

All my pictures from our John’s Creek Mountain Outing can be found on my Flickr site.

*I have a distinct distain for cultivated rhododendrons.  I’ll have to save that for another post on another day.

May 17, 2007 at 11:21 pm 1 comment

Season Comparison: Kelly’s Knob

I stumbled on another season comparison today (Other comparisons at Something The Thru Hikers Miss).

View from a Sunny Spring Day (2007)

View from a Overcast Summer Day (2003)

April 22, 2007 at 12:32 am Leave a comment

Kelly’s Knob – View of VT From the AT

Tomorrow I fly to Kansas, but today I hiked my mountains.  Lud, Jimmie and Henry and I headed to Kelly’s Knob.  Kelly’s Knob is just 120 yards off the Appalachian Trail on John’s Creek Mountain.  It isn’t the best view on the RATC-maintained trail, but it has a special distinction — you can see the the Virginia Tech campus (and my neighborhood) from the knob.   After the tragedy this week, it seemed the most fitting destination on the entire Appalachian Trail.

Lane Stadium and Cassell Colliseum from Kelly’s Knob

Lud and I took this opportunity to hang a VT flag at the knob.  We chose to wrap it around a tree trunk to help it better survive any wind.  The tree we selected is a blazed tree right next to the connector trail back to the AT.  In a way, it is a blaze back to Blacksburg, a blaze back home.

Blaze back home

We did have one mishap.  Henry was unsupervised long enough to roll in poo.  We don’t know what kind of poo (perhaps I should have paid more attention to the scat display at the Vail Nature Center), but Lud told Sean, “It’s definitely not domestic and if it is, I don’t want to know what it’s from!”

When we arrived at the knob, Henry’s smelly presence was not embraced by the other hikers.  A few of them actually fled!  As a result, Henry was banned from the rock outcropping.  I tied him up to a tree far away from any people.  Here is a quick shot of outcast Henry.   He was so shunned, even the camera felt it unfit to focus on him (you should be thankful– now you can’t see all detailed stains on his coat).

Can you find the outcast?

On a side note, we encountered two thru-hikers who have already made it this far into Virginia!  Their trailblog is at

We had a beautiful weather and beautiful views.  It was a great hike and I found it to be therapeutic.  Mountains are my favorite Mass. 

More pictures from our Kelly’s Knob hike are available on my Flickr site.

April 22, 2007 at 12:25 am 8 comments

John’s Creek Mountain Trail – A Tale of Trees

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.

April 1, 2007 at 8:18 pm 2 comments

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