I know this is a little off topic from the whole domestic theme, but I felt like showing off my pretty pictures anyway.
I’m lucky enough to have a job that pays me to go hiking in beautiful places! That’s one of the major perks of being an environmentalist and working for a land conservancy because we have all sorts of private and public land at our fingertips. This weekend for the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy Annual meeting we took a trip to Crossnore, NC. Saturday was full of hiking trips, I chose the strenuous one from Hampton Creek Cove to Carver’s Gap – 9 miles more or less up all the way. We hiked from Hampton Creek to Yellow Mountain Gap on the Appalachian Trail (AT) to Grassy Ridge, across Jane’s and Round Bald and finished up at Carver’s Gap. When I’ve hiked the AT before its always kind of funny realizing you’re in two states at the same time. Its always a relief when I get back to my beloved North Carolina!
The views were stunning, and that much more beautiful since we had hiked so long and hard to get to them. The grassy balds were ablaze with the orange, yellow and gold of the Flaming Azalea, and deep pinks of the Catawba Rhododendron. We saw Junco’s and heard Red Eyed Vireo’s singing from their perches in the tree tops. In just another month there will be more blackberries along the trail than all the AT Thru-Hikers can stomach.
We’re lucky to have such exceptional phenomenons like the natural mountain top grassy balds in the Appalachians that have been kept open for centuries by grazers and browsers like Woolly Mammoths and Tapirs, to Bison and Elk, to Cattle, Sheep and Goats. Unfortunately, these unique mountain ecosystems are endangered because the natural grazers have been eliminated and the surrounding forests and blackberries are encroaching more and more each year. (here’s my shameless plug) Support your local land trust to save the places that you love, or else we won’t have them much longer!!