Carol Broderson and special guide, Snow Ferreniea enlightened us with their vast knowledge of wildflowers.
BRDC's Explorers Club recently travelled to Speedwell to explore underground with expert caver Bill Grose. When the group climbed down into the cave entrance, they found themselves in a wild, seemingly uncharted world. The air was immediately cooler (which is why everyone dressed in layers) and all natural light disappeared. Stalactites hung above like chandeliers.
On Easter Saturday, 23 people joined Blue Ridge Discovery Center’s Explorers Club for our annual wildflower walk on the New River Trail. The 57-mile trail is the state’s “most narrow state park,” and the section between Low Water Bridge near Fries and Fries Junction, where a 12-mile spur trail heads to Galax, is a special spot for early spring wildflowers. Hike leader Carol Broderson briefly discussed the history of botanizing in Virginia and the fate of the “great forest” that covered the Appalachians.
Some say that technology goes against the very reason we are out exploring wilderness in the first place. This may be the case , but nearly everyone carries a smartphone in their pocket. The smartphone is a powerful tool that is beginning to replace that backpack full of heavy and outdated books. Some apps don't quit live up to expectations, but these 10 have become essential field tools.
13 Explorers hiked to Cascade Falls in Giles County last Saturday. It started out a cold, misty morning, but quickly warmed as the group made their way up the trail following Big Stony Creek over many rock steps and bridges. There were a great many cascades to explore along the way, and a beautiful display of fall color overhead. Along the way, the group collected a variety of leaves for later identification.
Aiming for peak broad-winged hawk migration, the explorers club hit the road to visit Grandfather Mountain Hawk Watch. We arrived not a minute too early! As we were setting up shop on Linville Peak (across the swinging bridge), kettles began to form to the southeast. It was if the hawks were appearing out of thin air, rising from the forest canopy below. We had incredible views looking nearly directly down on the birds. They were taking advantage of the thermals forming on the southeast facing slope of the mountain and soaring right in front of us. They circled up and up in kettles of thirty or more birds until they reached cruising altitude and one by one they would peel off continue their journey south toward Central and South America.
Imagine yourself arriving at this site after a 12 hour wagon ride in the late 1700's...site of an iron furnace and forge where early pioneer tools, as well as pots and pans were cast. Later, electric power for the town of Independence was generated until 1935.
The Blue Ridge Explorers Club visited the falls and discovered stoneflies and caddisflies under rocks in the creek, rock overhangs, coneflower, wingstem, an unknown species of lizard, and Cedar Waxwings swooping down to catch insects at the top of the falls.
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.