Got a text from my aunt the other morning. She was in a panic because there was a snake on her porch in the rafters and she was not able to get in touch with my dad. I told her I’d be over in a few. Isn’t it gorgeous? It never got defensive with me either.
So, I found this little guy (or girl) while hiking with my Dad the other day. First and foremost, he was never harmed. A majority of the time I can ID any animal or insect on a trail, but I have a hard time IDing certain trees. Who knew there were so many different species of oak tree?!
Anyway, I was looking at my phone (not smart to not pay attention when you’re hiking) and just-so-happened to hear something rustle the leaves. I hear that sound often and 99% of the time it’s an Anole or Eastern Fence Lizard, but when I looked down it was this Copperhead!
He was slithering as fast as he could away from me. I was lucky that he never even struck at me. My dad held him in place (gently), so I could snap a quick picture of his gorgeous colors and then we all went happily on our way.
I adore snakes and it drives me INSANE when people kill them. I understand some people are scared of them, but does that mean everything we are scared of deserves a death sentence? No, it does NOT. I won’t get on my soap box for now, because I could on ALL day long.
Just do me a favor and remember everything has its place in the ecosystem. When we hike we are in their territory, not our own. Don’t let fear drive you and cause unnecessary harm to anything.
PS: I am proud to say I can now decipher Northern Red Oaks, Southern Red Oaks, White Oaks, and Post Oaks. That’s something at least, right? 😉
So, since I have the majority of the summer off (yay teacher benefits!) my Dad and I have been hiking a lot lately. We decided to do West Fork Trail a couple days ago because I had never done it before. West Fork Trail is one section of the Benton Mackaye Trail. It was a rather simple hike honestly. The trail comes out at West Fork Rough Creek (my dad kept referring to it as Short Creek. Apparently that is what locals call it).
A short distance from there he took me off trail to show me a rather interesting Beech Tree. (I will make a separate post for it… it is a really interesting find. I did include one picture of it on this post though!) We kept going another mile or so up the old road and Dad showed me the remains of the old bridges and culverts that were once used. The road and bridges were closed in 1986 when the area was added to the Big Frog Wilderness. He also told me a story from when he and one of my uncles were hunting up in there 30+ years ago. He said they were hiking up that road when it started snowing. Dad said the snow was coming over the mountain like giant waves. I love hearing his old stories. 😊
Anyway, we had to cross the creek 3 different times to get to the end of the road where the camp site was. We managed to successfully cross (with pup in hand might I add) all three times without getting our feet wet. **Note to self: Bring a pair of water shoes to make crossing ten times easier next time?!
Did I mention we saw a bear? It was ADORABLE. I believe he was playing in the creek when he heard us, panicked, and hauled ass up the side of the mountain. Overall, it was a fairly easy hike. Moderate at most. The elevation gain was minimal. According to my book (Hiking Trails of the Cohutta and Big Frog Wilderness-AMAZING) the trail actually loses about 240 feet of elevation going down the trail and then gradually gains elevation back until it ends. =)
I would (and will) hike again
Trailhead: Forest Service Road 221 (Starts on southern slope of Chestnut Mountain)
Top L-R: The pup and I believe a woodpecker feather, Crawfish I caught flipping rocks, and salamander!
Middle L-R: Another salamander (found in rotted log) and some kind of creepy translucent worm that was in the creek.
Bottom L-R: Another salamander (notice his scarred tail and missing back left leg 😢.. I should note he still seemed to be thriving though! 😊), Dung Beetle (aka: Tumble Turd… this is what we grew up calling them. 🤣), and that same creepy worm from above in my hand.
A young magnolia tree.
The ADORABLE bear. 😍
Benton Mackaye Trail marker with Dad in background.
Part of one of the old culverts/bridges.
One view of the creek!
Acorn that fell off the tree and impaled itself into this Rhododendron leaf.
Another creek/bridge/culvert view.
One of the camping spots we saw!
Creepy freaking face we found carved in a tree.
Camping spot at the end of the trail!
Wooden trail marker. First of these I’ve seen!
That magnificent Beech Tree I mentioned above. Be watching for the next post that has more pictures of it!
All the little fungi I found. Well, most of it anyway.
Saturday I had to make a trip to Blue Ridge to run some errands, so decided while I was up there to take one of my babies (let’s call him K) and do a quick hike on Aska. According to the radar it was supposed to start raining at 4, so we had a couple hours to hike/adventure. We saw the usual few squirrels and K went berserk. I’m not sure he’d even know what to do with a squirrel if he did manage to catch one. I think he just likes to hear himself bark. 🙄
There are several trails on Aska, I just mostly like this one because when I’m pushed for time I can get a good hike in fairly quickly, plus it isn’t quite as busy as the other trailhead. The entire time I was on the loop I only saw 3 other people and they were all together.
There was a good sized tree down at one point. Thankfully, someone had already cleared a small path around it. I didn’t see the first critter (other than squirrels) but I did take a couple quick pictures of the old rock wall (not sure how old it is or the origin of it… Maybe Google could tell me) and the big chimney that’s still standing at one point along the trail.
Overall, it was a beautiful, cool day. Hoping to go hike the trail with a couple co-workers soon. I think they’d like it. 😊