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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 by sending them to the email address at the bottom of the page, and we'll do our best to make you (locally) famous!
Arachnophobe, calm down
Go ahead. Just try telling your old grandmother than this granddaddy longlegs is not a spider. “If it’s not a spider, then why does it have eight legs?” I imagine my grandmother saying, shaking her head and muttering to herself that I couldn’t tell a spider when I saw it. That spider’s got no fangs, grandmother. He’s got no venom. “WHAT?” my grandmother might have roared. “Why, that’s about the deadliest spider there is, if it could bite you. But his mouthparts aren’t big enough to bite.” And that settles it because who’s going to argue with grandmother? But granddaddy longlegs are not spiders. They have one main body part instead of two, no fangs, and no venom. They do, however, have stinky scent glands to discourage predators, and they’ll eat almost anything. They smell, taste, and touch with their longest, creepiest legs. Truth be told, a granddaddy longlegs watched my grandmother every day from the broad shade of a hydrangea outside her back door. She never bothered him, and he never bothered her. ~K
Be an extra early riser and take a unique moonlit hike to Bald Knob overlook on Pinnacle Trail. After experiencing the nocturnal aspects of the forest we will enjoy the pre-dawn sky from the outcrop as we anticipate the beauty of a new sunrise.
Dr. Ashley Morris and her students at Furman University are investigating clonal structure in the federally endangered bunched arrowhead and the state-listed Oconee bells (northern and southern species) using genetic tools. During this program, she will provide some preliminary data from the work that students have been doing this summer, with thoughts about possible implications for these two rare species.
Tours of MM include an introduction to fungal ecology and life cycles, laboratory tour and research overviews, and the fruiting room. Many aspects of mushrooms, including medicinal properties, cooking, and mycoremediation to soil creation will be discussed along the way!
ANTICIPATION. Sat, Oct. 16. That’s what fills me this time of year. So much is ready to happen, ready to explode. All the elements for a spectacular fall color show are aligned. Ample rainfall, cool, crisp mornings, followed by bright sunny days. That’s just the ticket for eye-popping fall color. There is no other place on earth that can match the southern Appalachians this time of year, and Lake Jocassee is the jewel in the crown. And don’t you know the migratory birds know it! We’ve not spotted even one migratory waterbird yet this year, but the cold front forecast to come through this weekend could change all that. I’m fully expecting to see our first loons and Bonaparte’s gulls this coming week. Alas, with every change of seasons there are things we must bid farewell. We took what I imagine was our last swim yesterday, saying goodbye til next year to the satin caress of Jocassee waters.
THE PEAK. To answer the question we are asked a thousand times this time of year, Kay and I have lived here for 12 falls, and the ‘peak’ in each one was right at the end of October and the first ten days of November. This year all the talk is about an early peak, but things seem rather normal to me, and right on course for the cusp of October/November. On the other hand, the Jocassee Gorges has the greatest diversity of hardwood trees in the country, each tree with its own timetable of preparation for winter, so peak can have a different meaning here. It’s more like a slow climb to the peak and back down the slope to the mellow glory of early winter. ~B
Granddaddy longlegs, also known as harvestmen, will loose a leg in order to escape from a predator. The severed leg will “twitch” for up to an hour, holding the attention of the predator while the harvestman escapes. The leg does not grow back.
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.