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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!
Don't Hurry, Winter
I’m not ready for winter to end. I like birds in bare branches against gray winter sky, and don’t mind extra clothes. For a few more weeks my ‘spring green’ fix can come from all the greens of many mosses, wrapping around trees, clinging to banks, anywhere deposits of leaves are easily blown away. I watch for swelling buds, but I’m not ready for bloom time. Yet there they are, expatriated trees, already blooming in expensive gated landscapes, stealing attention from the blush of red in the tips of maples, jumping ahead of serviceberry and redbud. Too early, like merchants who push aside Halloween and Thanksgiving to stock shelves with Christmas glitter. By the time this next rain is past, I’ll probably change my tune. Probably. ~K
Beginning at the Nature Center, follow trail to Bald Rock. Steep climb to summit Pinnacle Mtn., then follow Ridge Trail to Table Rock Trail intersection. Follow TR trail to Governor's Rock then on to Table Rock for lunch.
Steps have been carved into Governor’s Rock to make it easier to hike up the steep rock face.
Up Pinnacle Pass trail (very steep for about 1.5 miles) to amazing overlook of the park valley for snack stop; then on to the bog/fen at Little Pinnacle Mountain (large granite gneiss outcropping) for lunch and southwesterly views. Back on Pinnacle Pass crossing over to Rim of the Gap trail for more mild descent back to Jones Gap trailhead.
Walk in the woods with us on these Full Moon Evenings. We will have a brief connect, then proceed into the forest. The magic is shy so we will be silent to invite nonverbal communication. Afterwards we share our experience with a potluck.
Join the Upstate Native Plant Society as Melanie Rhulman gives us information on “best practices” for both agriculture and the environment. Melanie is a water resources specialist and president of Save Our Saluda, SOS, a local nonprofit watershed organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Saluda watershed through environmental awareness and citizen action.
Dennis will share his highly popular presentation of maps and vintage aerial photographs of the known locations of Cherokee towns, villages and hamlets along with details of Cherokee life during South Carolina’s Colonial Period.
Although it may appear that all is dormant in nature - the trees are bare, the grass is brown, and it is still cold - creatures are beginning to stir, to awaken and prepare for spring. Join us at the Nature Center to learn more about this marvelous prelude to spring and how you can see it happening around you.
THIS WEEK ON LAKE JOCASSEE
FEBRUARY 18, 2019
THE URGE TO FLY. Loons are in the midst of their pre-nuptial molt. Preparing for mating season. Preparing to leave. By the end of next month, most of our loons will be gone, while hundreds of others from winter waters further south will be stopping by on their way home. For the first few years of a loon’s life they are not ready for breeding and do not return to their natal lakes, but rather stay along the Atlantic coast, from Maine to Florida. But they don’t stay on Lake Jocassee, where the fish is plentiful, and life is easy. So why do these young birds leave? My learned friend and loon biologist Dr. Jim Paruk speculates that migrating birds just get the urge to fly this time of year. I understand that. It is a springtime feeling I share with the loons. Not just to follow them north, which I fully intend to do one of these years, but just to fly. To the coast, to the mountains, to all places new and unfamiliar. But then, when spring arrives, the Jocassee Gorges explodes with all things new and fresh and my urge to fly is satisfied right here at home. It’s why I live here.~B
Oconee Bells (Shortia galacifolia) are beginning their bloom time in Clemson's South Carolina Botanical Garden. Photo from SCBG.
DID YOU KNOW?
Sphagnum moss can hold up to 22 times its own weight in liquid, making it twice as absorptive as cotton. Ninety percent of the cells in a sphagnum plant are dead, made to be empty so they can be filled with water. Those negative charges mean that positively charged nutrient ions are going to be attracted to the sphagnum. As the moss soaks up all the negatively charged nutrients [like potassium, sodium and calcium] in the soil, it releases positively charged ions that make the environment around it acidic. For wounded humans, the result is that sphagnum bandages produce sterile environments by keeping the pH level around the wound low, and inhibiting the growth of bacteria. ~Smithsonianmag.com
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.