Thursday, May 26, 2016

Baskins Falls

Baskins Creek Falls

Since Ellie has a few days off from classes, we headed to the mountains, hiking "down" into Baskins Creek Falls in the Great Smokies. It's rare in the national park to leave the trailhead and descend down the mountainside to see a waterfall.(Elevation loss going in: 767 feet, elevation gain climbing out: 767 feet)

We each had a separate agenda. For me it was reconnaissance; for Ellie it was birds. We accomplished all things considered. I got to reconnect to a trail that I haven't walked in 18 years in my natal watershed, and Ellie got dueling red-eyes, really multiple vireos, plus ovenbirds, hoodeds and a worm-eating warbler; the latter was a lifer.

And adding a lifer makes everything else, including juvenile American politics, i.e. men behaving badly, seem so trivial. Plus we got to see the waterfalls where my Grandmother Pearl Ogle Bales showered when she was a barefoot mountain girl.

So, it was a trip back in time, in more ways than one.

Flat-branched tree club moss (see below) also has the common regional names 'princess pine' and 'ground pine' due to its resemblance to tiny pine trees. It's a very old, old plant form, that predates flowering plants by millions of years. Club moss represents nature's early attempt for a vascular plant to gain "height." Club mosses have been on Earth for roughly 410 million years, give or take a few millennia. While millipedes (see below) date back that far as well. They were among the first animals to have colonized the land probably feeding on the early club mosses. 

Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

Worm-eating warbler (Helmitheros vermivorus)
Best guess: Silvery glade fern (Deparia acrostichoides)
American giant millipede (Narceus americanus)
Club Moss species, probably Flat branch ground-pine (Lycopodium obscurum)
Galax (Galax urceolata)

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