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Mt. Mitchell, Labor Day Weekend

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Ken Ramos

Joined: 27 Jul 2006
Posts: 7076
Location: lat=35.4005&lon=-81.9841

PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 4:35 pm    Post subject: Mt. Mitchell, Labor Day Weekend Reply with quote

That last big fling of summer. That's good, now everyone go back to work and quit crowding up my mountain Laughing Naw just kidding, I will share it...like I had a choice. Rolling Eyes FYI the new observation tower is scheduled for completion in June of 08. I am hoping and looking forward, to making or attending the festivities, should be a grand event

It was about 10:00AM and 57°F when I arrived on Mitchell. There were only a handful of vehicles other than mine and those belonged to the people who worked at the snack bar and gift shop/museum. Oh and of course the State Ranger.

Everytime I come to Mitchell it seems like the first time that I have ever been there. The mountain seems to change overnight. I like to be there early before the crowds arrive and here of late it seems that I always arrive as the clouds are being "raked" by the summit. It is deathly quiet about this time of day and I enjoy it when it is like that. Cloudy and in the dim misty gloom of the forest one can ponder on those things which they observe and to consider the mortality of life so precious around them. Even the birds do not sing in the trees and the only other sounds are the gravel and rock crunching beneath your feet as you walk along and the rushing sound of the wind, on occasion, in the towering tree tops.

It seems almost like winter, with the chill in the air and the trees and other vegetation along the trail are moist with the dampness of the passing clouds. Lichens that were once dry and brittle in appearance, have a renewed color to them and all sorts of mushrooms and other fungi seem to magically appear as you walk the trails. Lush growths of ferns and beds of emerald green mosses blanket the ground, with a mixutre of small mountain wildflowers. Daisies are still in bloom up here and the Goldenrods are beginning to make their appearance also, foretelling of the coming of the fall season. I happened later on to stop and chat with a young boy who was picking raspberries, which are now ripe and plentiful, he was eating them by the handful. He offered me a couple but I gracefully declined and moved on.

This is a common sight up here. Magnificent giants that either have fulfilled their purpose and died or have succumbed to the forces of nature, lie broken and scattered on the forest floor. They too having turned gray as aged by time and soon to return to that from which they came. People seem to wonder and to ask why the park service does not clean them up. To do so would be to disrupt the natural order of the mountain and so they are best left alone, posing no hazard to the passers by, they provide a home and nourishment for wildlife, insects, and plants.

In parting, I will leave you at this dim lit trail, the light of day masked by the low clouds and overhanging boughs of Balsam Firs. I have many more photographs from the area and maybe I will post the rest in this thread on another day. As I made my way back to the main summit area, cold and a bit damp, I was looking forward to getting a hot cup of coffee at the snack bar and by the way the coffee up there is quite good and to get youself a hot cup and to pull up a rock and to take hold in the wonder of creation in the quiet cool stillness of the mountain, with the clouds rolling past you, is indeed a moment to be cherished. Very Happy

Note: This is a next day continuation to the original post above adding four more images to the original. Very Happy

For those who may find lichens to be of interest, there is a great deal of lichen diversity here also. Many of the trees are covered in them and I have wondered if these dense populations of the organisms are affecting the growth and development of some trees, such as the small one shown above. The photograph, taken at a distance, seems to depict that the tree is covered in some sort of cottony fungi but these are multitudes of lichen growths, different in species and coexisting together on the small tree.

Another example of lichen diversity can be seen here. Xanthoria parietina and Anzia colpodes coexisting along a rock wall, on which it is most commonly found, near the concession area at Mitchell. The deep yellow color of Xanthoria is due to the presence of the pigment parietin.

As previously mentioned, the clouds were rolling in and by, making for damp condtions here at Mitchell. This was perfect for the sprouting of not only mushrooms and various other fungi but for the fruitification of Plasmodial Slime Molds themselves. Though I have not researched this particular species and to take samples from the area without a permit is prohibited in some or most areas, I have not identified this particular species of myxomycetes. Mount Mitchell is an international biosphere and a good deal research is conducted here by scientists from all over.

In certain areas there are signs notify backpackers and hikers of endangered species of wildlife and plant growth as well and to be found removing or causing damage to such life carries with it stiff fines and penalties, so it is best to observe, enjoy, and above all take some photographs of that which you find in the wilds of Mitchell. Very Happy
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Joined: 10 Aug 2007
Posts: 269

PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beautiful mountains, i love how green it is. my mountains sadly are no where near as pretty. mostly dry desert shrubs and oak trees, and some ceders and pines near the top. i specially like # 2 and 3. i could sit on that log for quite some time. is there any local rivers or streams in the area?
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Ken Ramos

Joined: 27 Jul 2006
Posts: 7076
Location: lat=35.4005&lon=-81.9841

PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jmlphoto asked:
...is there any local rivers or streams in the area?

There is a mountain spring at the summit but no other streams. Mt. Mitchell is 6,684 feet up at the summit, well over one mile. Down near Camp Alice there is a small stream though. Yes it is quite beautiful up here and you could spend hours here, even days. Thanks! Very Happy
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