A woodland hike...MST to Alligator back, NC

Today (May 2, 2010) I decided not to join my friends on their discovery hike in Virginia because my dog really needed an outing and may have been disruptive in a large group. So we went by ourselves this morning up to the Parkway where we walked on the MST (in the complete open, with 360-degree vistas) to Alligator Back, and returned. Then we took a shorter woodland hike nearby.

Here's what we discovered:

  • Coyote scat plentiful: I noticed it often here in the winter. I'm quite sure it was from Coyote as it was full of fur and we do have plenty of these critters around.
  • Bluets EVERYWHERE. Lovely.
  • Very young Rabbit Tobacco (I think).
  • Hawthorn trees blooming. I usually break off a thorn to use as my favorite toothpick. When I tried to do this today it was resistant, felt more green than brittle, so I left it alone. Perhaps the thorn starts off soft in the Spring.
  • Ant hills in close proximity to each other like black polka dots the whole mowed trail. I'm wondering if it's one colony. I heard E.O. Wilson recently speaking on his speciality, ants, as conducting great wars ("the most warlike of the whole animal kingdom.") This makes me think perhaps this was one colony. I'll see what more I can find on this. I saw no ants and didn't want to disturb the settlement so I don't know their size. May Apples in bloom.
  • One Flame Azalea in full bloom.
  • One Locust sapling in bloom (@ 1' tall). Perhaps Black Locust.
  • Young Pine Cones developing. Perhaps Pitch Pine (3-needle bundles) My husband has our camera in Mississippi or I could have better documented my finds. I looked in my flower books and online for something that looked like the "Young Rabbit Tobacco" but could find nothing.

I enjoy the Buddhist teachings, including "Signlessness"-- stepping fresh into each moment without the need to name ("sign")/compare/judge etc. I used to always run to books and maps to identify everything I saw. Then I tried to modify this habit. Today I felt I reached a happy medium and enjoyed noticing in preparation for sharing on this blog.

-Martha Magroski