Blue Ridge Expeditions: Spring Foray, April 12, 2014

BRDC's first local Blue Ridge Expeditions field hike of 2014 was great; warm, sunny weather for the 16 eager hikers on the New River Trail below Fries. Guides Roald Kirby, Carol Broderson and Harrol Blevins led the participants, some of whom were from the Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club and most others regulars. 

"The east facing wooded slopes adjacent to the trail were carpeted with some of the best displays of spring wildflowers that I have ever seen--- blood root,  Dutchman's Britches and Spring Beauty were the most spectacular. We also saw some uncommon ones:  wild bleeding heart and round leafed hepatica. The flowers had just opened; Carol said there was hardly anything a few days earlier. Birds were fewer but Harrol helped us spot a number, including yellow-throated warbler, blue-gray gnatcatcher and mallards, wood ducks and geese. Everyone felt that we were out on the first truly spring day!"  (From Roald)

"It was still early spring on the New River Trail and the purple trillium that blanket the hillsides was not quite ready to open. The combination of a below zero winter and a cold March made trillium blooms three weeks later than the last year. We saw plenty of the earlier Dutchmans breeches and decided to extend our walk across the bridge to see another family member BLEEDING HEART.

EARLY SAXIFRAGE (saxigfrage means rock breaker) colonized all the rocky places.

Having birder Harrol Blevins along was a special treat for all the wildflower enthusiasts. He pointed out the masses of yellow warblers (more than he had seen in one place) and the double-crested cormorants on river rocks.

A partial list of wildflowers:

MUSTARDS creasy, toothwort, (early) bittercresses, garlic mustard

MINTS ground ivy, dead nettle

bluets

ASTERS golden ragwort, dandelion

SAXAFRAGE early

RANUNCULUS buttercups, COLUMBINE

hepatica

trailing arbutus

mayapple

FUMATORY Dutchmen's breeches, bleeding heart

chickweed

violets

bloodroot

spring beauty

blue cohosh

fire pink"  (from Carol)

Below are two pictures taken by Harrol:  

Bloodroot: 

Dutchman's Britches:

Stay tuned for more announcements of future expeditions.  Take a look at our Ridge and Valley Blogpost from the same day, for a review of our Radford edition of BRE:  http://ridgeandvalley.blogspot.com/2014/04/shutterbug-explorations.html