Monday, May 4, 2015

Beauty Along Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain


May 3, 2015
Red Fox Trail of Jefferson National Forest
Beautiful Sky Over Pound Gap of Pine Mountain
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.




May 3, 2015
Red Fox Trail of Jefferson National Forest
Beautiful Sky Over Pound Gap of Pine Mountain
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Gorgeous late spring weather conditions graced May 3 for a nice adventure along the scenic and historic Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain in Wise County, Virginia.

May 3, 2015
Pound Gap of Pine Mountain
Geology & Sky Meet At Historic Pound Gap
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

This day and these scenes are dedicated to the memory of Ron Hubbard and Scully, his best traveling companion ( next to Lynda ). 

May 3, 2015
Pound Gap of Pine Mountain
Geology & Sky Meet At Historic Pound Gap
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.


Into The Woods We Go
Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain

May 3, 2015
Giant Sugar Maple On Red Fox Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

I had the privilege to hike the Red Fox Trail on 
this day with Lynda Hubbard and John Mullins, not only my friends but my family!

May 3, 2015
Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain
Giant Sugar Maple ( Acer saccharum var. saccharum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Spring is a great time to be in the woods as not only are these mountain forests diverse, but they can be as colorful as during autumn.

May 3, 2015
Pine Mountain of Jefferson National Forest
Late Spring In Forest Along Red Fox Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 3, 2015
Pine Mountain of Jefferson National Forest
Late Spring In Forest Along Red Fox Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Taking photographs inside the woods can be challenging due to great variations in lighting 
amid different settings and with passing clouds.

May 3, 2015
Pine Mountain of Jefferson National Forest
Late Spring In Forest Along Red Fox Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 3, 2015
Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain
John Mullins & Lynda Hubbard On The Red Fox
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 3, 2015
Pine Mountain of Jefferson National Forest
Late Spring In Forest Along Red Fox Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 3, 2015
Pine Mountain of Jefferson National Forest
Late Spring In Forest Along Red Fox Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

I have always found light & dark contrasts to be fascinating in all seasons amid the forest, but especially colorful during spring and autumn.

May 3, 2015
Pine Mountain of Jefferson National Forest
Late Spring In Forest Along Red Fox Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 3, 2015
Majestic Light Hitting Canopy
Pine Mountain of Jefferson National Forest
Late Spring In Forest Along Red Fox Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 3, 2015
Inside the Deep Woods
Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain
John Mullins & Lynda Hubbard On The Red Fox
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 3, 2015
Pine Mountain of Jefferson National Forest
Late Spring In Forest Along Red Fox Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 3, 2015
Pine Mountain of Jefferson National Forest
Late Spring In Forest Along Red Fox Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 3, 2015
Pine Mountain of Jefferson National Forest
Late Spring In Forest Along Red Fox Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.


Beauties On The Forest Floor
Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain

May 3, 2015
Jefferson National Forest
Pink Lady's Slipper ( Cypripedium acaule )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Orchids form a symbiotic relationship with a fungus in the soil and will almost always die within a year or so after someone foolishly digs one up.

May 3, 2015
Pink Lady's Slipper With A Visitor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Never dig up an orchid.

May 3, 2015
Pink Lady's Slipper Orchid
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 3, 2015
Pink Lady's Slipper Orchid
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 3, 2015
Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain
Halberd-leaved Yellow Violet ( Viola hastata )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 3, 2015
Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain
Cluster of Blue Violets ( Viola spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 3, 2015
Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain
Wild Geraniums ( Geranium maculatum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 3, 2015
Small Tributary of Bad Creek
Along Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 3, 2015
Small Tributary of Bad Creek
Along Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.


A Featured Attraction
Historic Killing Rock

May 3, 2015
Jefferson National Forest
The Killing Rock Along Red Fox Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Some 123 years ago this cliff became famous for 
a terrible massacre that killed 5 people when a moonshiner named Ira Mullins, and his family, were ambushed by Dr. M. B. Taylor ( known as "The Red Fox" ) and two confederate brothers.

May 3, 2015 at 3:05 PM
Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain
Lynda Hubbard & John Mullins On The Rock
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Best photographs of this historic site would be taken when the main light source is opposite to what it was at this time of day.

May 3, 2015 at 3:05 PM
Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain
Lynda Hubbard & John Mullins On The Rock
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 3, 2015
Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain
Fearless Lynda Standing On Top of The Rock
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Trying to make do with 
the worse possible light.

May 3, 2015
Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain
Lynda Hubbard & John Mullins
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

*You never want the camera to be looking toward the light source, and preferably have the light behind the camera at some angle illuminating your subject(s).


Birds Along The Trail

May 3, 2015
Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain
John Mullins & Lynda Hubbard On The Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

John had his bird book in hand and unlike Little Stony Creek Gorge, where whitewater was so loud that no birds could be heard, I was able to hear an array of birds along the Red Fox Trail.

Bear Rock & Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif

Black-throated Green Warblers ( Setophaga virens ) and Ovenbirds ( Seiurus aurocapilla ) were among the most numerous birds singing along this trail on this particular day.  A few others included:

Northern Cardinal
( Cardinalis cardinalis )

Red-Eyed Vireo
( Vireo olivaceus )

Yellow-throated Warbler
( Setophaga dominica )

Yellow-Breasted Chat
( Icteria virens )

American Redstart
 ( Setophaga ruticilla )

Wild Turkey
( Meleagris gallopavo )

There were many other birds, of course, but I 
did not write them down as I was busy taking photographs of beautiful things!

May 3, 2015
Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain
Two Beauties Near The End Of The Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Certainly Ron & Scully would agree, 
as would Mae ( John's wife ).

May 3, 2015
Near End of Red Fox Trail of Pine Mountain
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day Tribute From The High Knob Massif


April 21, 2015 at 5:00 PM
Little Stony Creek of High Knob Massif
Whitewater Churns On Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.



The Appalachian Climate Center

April 21, 2015 at 2:46 PM
Little Stony Basin of High Knob Massif
Beautiful Early Afternoon Skies Above Bear Rock
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Spring is a glorious time of year and there is no better place to illustrate that than the High Knob Massif and southern Appalachians of the USA!

April 21, 2015
Little Stony Basin of High Knob Massif
Bear Rock Ridge of Little Stony Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Like so many of the gorges draining the high country of the High Knob Massif, the rock laden chasm of Little Stony Creek is truly a rugged wonder of Mother Nature.

April 21, 2015
High Knob Massif
Clinch River Watershed of Upper Tennessee Basin
Little Stony Creek Gorge View From Bear Rock
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

A close look reveals "white" near bottom of the nearly vertical mountain walls forming this gorge.  That is churning whitewater on Little Stony Creek which made notable "noise" even atop Bear Rock Ridge ( Laurel Fork Creek could be heard on the opposite side, to left of this view ).

April 21, 2015
View From Windy Bear Rock Ridge
Zoomed Toward Visible Whitewater In Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Bear Rock is a quartz-arenite sandstone capped spur ridge on the western side of Little Stony Creek Gorge with a heath-barren type of environment.

April 21, 2015
Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif
Heath-Barren Setting Along Bear Rock Ridge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015
Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif
Heath-Barren Setting Along Bear Rock Ridge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Turkey Vultures ( Cathartes aura ) took advantage of thermal drafts
to soar above the gorge despite occasional strong gusts of wind
( April 22 was MUCH worse with ROARING winds ).

April 21, 2015
Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif
Looking East To East-SE From Bear Rock
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015
Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif
Looking Southeast-ESE From Bear Rock
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

A large number of majestic Canadian Hemlock trees ( Tsuga canadensis ) continue to line the gorge and it is hoped that bitter cold from winter will help slow, or even stop, the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid infestation this year.  Time will tell.

April 21, 2015
Remnant Massif of High Knob Landform
Beautiful Afternoon In Little Stony Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Little Stony Gorge is full of rock formations. 

April 21, 2015
Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif
Looking Toward The Upper Falls & Middle Falls
Chimney-like Rock Formation Looking Upstream
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Many can be viewed along the National Recreation Trail that goes along Little Stony Creek through the gorge ( now part of a 33+ mile trail system in the High Knob Massif ).

April 21, 2015
Rock Formation In Little Stony Creek Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Rocks in the gorge are not just 
in huge cliff forms like these.

April 21, 2015
High Knob Massif
Rock Laden Amid Little Stony Creek Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

They are everywhere in and upon the ground,
which makes good habitats for diverse species.

April 21, 2015
High Knob Massif
Makes Good Habitat For Many Species
Rock Laden Amid Little Stony Creek Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015
High Knob Massif
Rock Laden Amid Little Stony Creek Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.


Waterfalls of Little Stony Gorge
One Of Many Whitewater Gems In The High Knob Massif

April 21, 2015
Clinch River Basin of High Knob Massif
Majesty Of Whitewater On Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

A close view of the above scene will reveal that 
Moss Plants are undergoing sexual reproduction!
Reference Life Cycle Of A Moss Plant Animation


Most who visit Little Stony Gorge come to see the waterfalls, with the Upper Falls visited more than any other, such that some may not even realize there are two more significant falls downstream and a host of other falls and rapids all along this Class IV-V+ whitewater creek.

April 21, 2015
Elevation 2260 feet
Upper Falls of Little Stony Creek Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015
Elevation 2260 feet
Upper Falls of Little Stony Creek Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015
Elevation 2260 feet
Upper Falls of Little Stony Creek Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015
Elevation 2240 feet
Middle Falls of Little Stony Creek Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015
Little Stony Basin of High Knob Massif
Majestic Middle Falls of Little Stony Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015
Elevation of Around 2160 feet
Big ( Lower ) Falls of Little Stony Creek Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

There is plenty of fast water 
churning between the falls.

April 21, 2015
Little Stony Creek Whitewater
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

In many ways it is as beautiful as the main waterfalls, and following a snowy winter and wet spring it made sounds so loud on this day that you could not hear birds singing ( the one negative ).

April 21, 2015
Approximate Vertical Drop of 40 Feet
Big ( Lower ) Falls of Little Stony Creek Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015
High Knob Massif
Little Stony Creek of Clinch River
Beautiful Whitewater On Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015
High Knob Massif
Little Stony Creek of Clinch River
Beautiful Whitewater On Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015
High Knob Massif
Little Stony Creek of Clinch River
Beautiful Whitewater On Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015
High Knob Massif
Little Stony Creek of Clinch River
Beautiful Whitewater On Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Clouds increased during mid-late afternoon with 
sunlight more limited during this hike inside of Little Stony Creek Gorge.

April 21, 2015
High Knob Massif
Sunlight Illuminates Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015
Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif
Sunlight Illuminates The Middle Falls
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015
Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif
Sunlight Illuminates The Middle Falls
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015
Middle Falls of Little Stony Gorge
Focus On Yellow Birch Betula alleghaniensis )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.


Wildflowers & Other Species

Just Emerging - Bud Scales At Top
American Beech ( Fagus grandifolia )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

The majority of trees above 3000 feet in elevation, as highlighted later, and those in cold air drainages like that of the Little Stony Creek Valley and Gorge, remain bare or have small leaves.

April 21, 2015
Dwarf Iris ( Iris verna var. smalliana )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 2, 2015
Dwarf Crested Iris ( Iris cristata ) With Visitor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

This allows an abundance of critical light to reach the forest floor to trigger and stimulate growth of a vast array of wildflower species.

Dry Land Fish of The Mountains
Yellow Morel Mushroom ( Morchella esculenta )
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

*Spring wetness seeming to aid many mushroom species as well, with "Dry Land Fish" or Morels being a much sought variety for eatin' during this time of year.

April 21, 2015
Painted Trillium Trillium undulatum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 19, 2015
Large-flowered Trillium ( Trillium grandiflorum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 19, 2015
Long-spurred Violet ( Viola rostrata )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 18, 2015
White Violet ( Viola spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 19, 2015
Rue Anemone ( Thalictrum thalictroides )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 18, 2015
Foamflower ( Tiarella cordifolia )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 19, 2015
Golden Ragwort ( Packera spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 23, 2015
Pink Lady's SlipperCypripedium acaule )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 23, 2015
Pink Lady's Slipper ( Cypripedium acaule )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 23, 2015
Pink Lady's Slippers ( Cypripedium acaule )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 26, 2015
Mayapple ( Podophyllum peltatum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 27, 2015
Wild Geranium ( Geranium maculatum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 27, 2015
Fire Pink ( Silene virginica )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 27, 2015
Not Perfect - Still Beautiful
Fire Pink ( Silene virginica )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 23, 2015
An Aging Mushroom Species On Forest Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 26, 2015
Nestled Amid The Plants & Leaves
Eastern Box Turtle ( Terrapene carolina carolina )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 2, 2015
Wild Azalea ( Rhododendron periclymenoides )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 2, 2015
Fleabane Daisy ( Erigeron spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 2, 2015
American Beech Trees Mostly Bare
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

May 2, 2015
American Beech With Young Leaves
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.


Changes With Increasing Elevation

While it was gusty and the air cool at Bear Rock, 2000 vertical feet of elevation increase found the air cold with significant wind chills in the crest zone of the High Knob Massif.

April 21, 2015
Looking East-Southeast from High Knob Lookout
Early Spring Conditions In Crest Zone of Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

Differences in conditions could easily be seen by the early spring state of the northern hardwood forest, with maples and serviceberry ( sarvis ) blooming in basins holding Big Cherry Lake, 
High Knob Lake, and the Norton Reservoirs.

April 21, 2015
Southern Exposed Slope In Big Cherry Lake Basin
Looking Southwest-West from High Knob Lookout
Early Spring Conditions In Crest Zone of Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015 at 7:40 PM
Looking Southeast from High Knob Lookout
Early Spring Conditions In Crest Zone of Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

April 21, 2015
Looking West from High Knob Lookout
Sunset Nears Amid Cold & Windy Conditions
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.