Welcome to the Blue Wall Weekly, your source for what's going on outside along the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment. Feel free to share your own photos, videos, and adventures along the Blue Wall, and we'll do our best to make you (locally) famous!
Oconee bells are blooming now, and the white flowers look like drifts of melting snow across the hillsides of the Jocassee Gorges. The history of this wild little plant, known to science as Shortia galacifolia, has led to quests and symposiums and more questions than answers. Why did Andre Michaux, the botanical explorer who first found the plant in 1787, find it barely worth mentioning? Why couldn’t Asa Gray, the eminent botanist who found a dried specimen of plant in Paris -- who was writing the book on Flora of North America -- figure out where it grew? Why was this plant, one that grew so abundantly along the many tributaries draining into Jocassee Valley... why was this plant ultimately rediscovered 100 miles away in the Catawba River drainage in NC, with no known populations in between? And why was the tiny, disjunct population rediscovered in NC genetically different from Oconee bells in the Jocassee Gorges? We live in the midst of a mystery, and once a year, when the diminutive groundcover is blooming, we become sleuths. ~K
WITH JOCASSEE LAKE TOURS
SOLAR ECLIPSE 2017
August 21: 10:00 - 4:00 PM
Jocassee Lake Tours is planning the best Solar Eclipse Party on the lake! Join us! Details coming 3.27.17
PRIVATE TOURS ARE ALWAYS AVAILABLE!
WITH JOCASSEE LAKE TOURS
EVERY WEDNESDAY TOUR
March 22: 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM
EVERY SATURDAY TOUR
March 25: 1:00 - 4:00 PM** NOTE DIFFERENT TIME
PLEASE CALL 864-280-5501 AT LEAST 24 HOURS IN ADVANCE TO RESERVE YOUR SEATS
Two historic buildings are located on the grounds of Oconee Station State Historic Site. The oldest is a stone blockhouse that was built in 1792. It is all that remains of a military outpost that was built during a period of tension between the white settlers and the Indians.
Now that the trails have reopened after last year's fires, let's hike the "grand tour" of Table Rock State Park. Start on the Carrick Creek Trail, hit the Pinnacle Mountain Trail to the top of Pinnacle Mountain, then hit the Ridge Trail over to the Table Rock Trail to the top of Table Rock.
We will park in the Raven Cliff Falls “overflow” access and hike down Geer Hwy., and take the short-cut path to Gum Gap and Naturaland Trust Trails to the suspension bridge. We continue on the Naturaland Trust Trail, hiking pass “The Cathedral,” across Matthews Creek, and making the steep climb up the Dismal Trail to finish on Raven Cliff Falls
This unique experience offers you the chance to join with others who want to experience nature fully and deeply, in a meditative format. By choosing to forgo friendly chit-chat and instead explore what it’s like to walk in the woods without speaking, we have a chance to engage our senses more fully – to truly connect with the environment around us.
Participants will learn fungal ecology and life cycles, while immersed in hands-on methods to cultivate mushrooms on logs, stumps, wood chips, and straw, designing mushroom gardens, and composting or recycling with fungi.
Inspired by the trails and natural elements found at Lake Conestee Nature Park. This workout will involve moderate amounts of trail running on rugged terrain, body weight interval training, and possible sprints.
We are thrilled to welcome Nancy Basket, noted Cherokee storyteller and multimedia artist to the Cabin and she’ll tell stories by the fire. Learn about the Cherokee clan system and family structure, discover the Cherokee names for native animals, and more, a fun outing for all the family. Enjoy a Cherokee treat by the roaring fire.
ZUGUNRUHE is a German compound word consisting of Zug (move, migration) and Unruhe (anxiety, restlessness). In ethology it describes anxious behavior in migratory animals, especially in birds during the normal migration period. Here is how to pronounce it:
I’m telling you all this because zugunruhe may be the coolest word ever. After watching loons for years start to act edgy, aggressive, and even anxious this time of year, I now have a word to describe what I am watching. It’s all about hormones and such as the breeding season approaches, and is observable from late February though all of March as our loons leave for their summer homes, and through the entire of April as well as loons from other parts stop by Lake Jocassee for a few days of nourishment on their way north. Zugunnruhe should be on display in other waterfowl on Lake Jo this time of year, including the clouds of red breasted merganzers I have been seeing of late, but only the fearless loon allows for such careful, intimate observation.
Photo by Bob Miracle
EAGLE NEST REPORT. It’s going on at our new eagle’s nest this year, with one eagle seen regularly on the nest (just the white head sticking out over the edge) and the other parent bird bringing building material to their new domicile. No sign of a chick yet, but it shouldn’t be long!
SPRING JUMP-IN REPORT! Monday is it, the first day of spring, and the weather forecast is for a sunny day in the 70’s. It is time for Kay and I to renew our annual Spring Jump-In, and all are welcome to join us. We will immerse on the hour of the warmest part of the day, and retreat in about the same amount of time as it takes to jump in. It’s cheap thrill, to be sure. 5pm at the kayak ramp. See you then. ~B
DID YOU KNOW?
Estimates differ as to how much Shortia galacifolia was lost when the Jocassee Dam was built, but those estimates range between sixty and eighty five percent of the world's population of the plant.
ABOUT THE BLUE WALL
Spanning three states (North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia) and encompassing 859,000 acres, the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment, known as the 'Blue Wall' by Native Americans, contains some of the highest natural diversity of rare plants and animals found anywhere in the world.