A Stroll in the Spring Woods

4:41 p.m. on May 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Though I haven't been able to get out much since last fall, I do like to wander the trails here on Signal Mountain where I live above Chattanooga, TN. 

One of the closest trailheads is just a mile or so from my house, and less from a mile down the trail is Rainbow Lake, and old reservoir built at in the narrow gorge around 1910. There was an old resort and cabins above the canyon, looking out over the loch-like lake and cascading stream. Now it is all reclaimed by nature, with only a few stone and cement remnants of the Golden Era leisure. 


There are thousands of beautiful Eastern Hemlocks in and around the gorge, thriving for years in the cool moist slopes, but that is all about to change. The cursed Wooley Adelgid, an invasive Asian bug, has decimated millions of the trees in the Appalachians, and has now found it's way into the Tennessee Valley and up onto the Cumberland Plateau, of which Signal Mountain is an outlier. 


I have a large Hemlock in my yard that I need to inoculate with a ground treatment for the little devils, and I plan to order more of the treatment than I need so that I can inoculate a few of the ones along the trails up here as well. 

 Ferns an' such. I know I've looked up the 6 leaf whorled plant, but I can't remember. 


Not sure what the pinately compound leafed plant is, need to look it up. My identification skills are getting rusty! 


A very young Broadleaf Magnolia


I think I know what this is, but I need to check and confirm :) 


A large, pretty wood snail


I do love mosses!


Some wild Heuchera


Wild Columbine


More ferns and some Bear Corn (Conopholis americana), a non-photosynthesizing plant. 




One of my favorite understory plants of this region, Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus), the flowers and leaves have a sweet and slightly spicy aroma. 



The unmistakable Jack in the Pulpit! 


Trillium with flowers past their prime. The mottled leaves are so pretty by themselves, though. 


The destination of our walk: the old lake dam and spillway. All the rain this spring has Middle Creek swelled to an impressive torrent. 


While the water is still this high I really want to scramble down the canyon to Rainbow Falls, where the flow plunges off an 85 foot drop into a large water carved hollow and deep blue-green pool.

The weather is also almost warm enough to go swimming! Jumping off the rope swing and this dam is one of my favorite summer activities :)  

7:05 p.m. on May 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Really cool shots Gonz. Love the photos of the different types of vegetation. I gotta say though that last spillway shot is sweet. 

Very nice man. 

Thanks for sharing. 

8:59 p.m. on May 21, 2013 (EDT)
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I was going to comment after seeing your 1st picture that the hemlocks looked very healthy ( compard to further east). The gorges that fall off the eastern side of the plateau have some beautiful creeks and some old growth hemlock in there from chatty to above I-40...used to kayak many of them and the trees were always amazing in the area. Its a shame they are slowly getting infested with the HWA.

We should all be taking in the memories while we can.......im afraid in 20 years or less they will be gone.


Looks like a fun trip.




11:13 p.m. on May 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice and green!

It's a shame to lose those hemlocks.

I didn't realize that those columbines were found in the east.  We have the same red and yellow columbines in the Sierras.

10:31 a.m. on May 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks guys! 

1:29 p.m. on May 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice plant photos. One down side of Norway is that plant diversity is relatively low compared to Vermont, never mind the southern Appalachians. We have only a handful of spring wildflowers in the woods around here. I miss jack in the pulpit, wild ginger, trilliums and the like. It's good to see some of them again, even if only in pictures.

1:59 p.m. on May 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice Caleb!

Some call Conopholis americana "squaw root" 'round here. I like Bear Corn.

4:43 p.m. on May 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks BigRed, I really love the abundance and variety of cool plants in this region. 

4:45 p.m. on May 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Did I tell you I actually tried grilling and eating some the stuff? It wasn't very good, haha! It didn't have a lot of flavor, and what taste it has was very soil-ish, bitter, and astringent. I guess I'd eat it if I was starving, but not willingly :) 

February 29, 2020
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