Thursday, September 1, 2016

Early Autumn 2016 In The High Knob Massif


August 31, 2016
High Valley Of Big Cherry Basin
Cumulonimbus Developing Above Wetland
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Mid-latitude wetlands impact the climate more than any others on planet Earth, with these high elevation wetlands also being ideally located above the major water supply reservoir for Big Stone Gap and many other local communities.  A precious resource in more ways than one!

Wetlands Role In Climate - Bill Mitsch Lecture
Professor at Everglades Wetland Research Park

Water was rushing over this dam, in the upper Beaver Meadow, a week ago but on this day it was merely seeping 
past this natural blockade built by nature's premier engineer.

High Knob Massif
Head of South Fork of Powell River
Large Beaver Dam In High Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

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August 31, 2016
Abundant Ferns In High Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Signs of autumn began showing up at the end of 
August and dawn of September in high valleys of 
the High Knob Massif.

Strands of Old Man's Beard Lichen ( Usnea spp, ), several feet long, hang off American Beech ( Fagus grandifolia ) trees behind a large, sprawling Cinnamon Fern.

August 31, 2016
High Wetland Valley of Big Cherry Basin
Cinnamon Fern ( Osmundastrum cinnamomeum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

August 31, 2016
Upper Basin Of South Fork Of Powell River
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Reflections of trees, grasses, and wildflowers of Autumn Sneezeweed 
( Helenium autumnalecreated a nice scene along the lush,wetland valley far above the backwaters of Big Cherry Lake.

August 31, 2016
High Knob Massif
Water Reflections In High Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

It would have been a difficult crossing here a week earlier, despite the Beaver Dam holding back water, but on this day it was shallow enough for just a little boot wetting.

August 31, 2016
A Shallow Stream Crossing
Downstream From Upper Beaver Dam
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

August 31, 2016
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Thick Vegetation Along Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This is a wondrous and complex habitat, with a swamp forest that gives way to a series of marshes and other beaver controlled features ( with respect to the hydrology of flowing water ).

August 31, 2015
High Knob Massif
One Of Many Fern Glades Along Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Due to high elevation, above 3000 feet, species with northern affinities are abundant as part of endemic Southern Appalachian Northern Woods featuring High-Elevation Cove Forests with a few Tulip-poplars ( Liriodendron tulipifera ) scattered among a forest filled with Yellow Birch ( Betula alleghaniensis ), Black Cherry ( Prunus serotina ), American Beech ( Fagus grandifolia ), Sugar Maple ( Acer saccharum ) and other dominants.

August 31, 2015
Valley Floor Elevation Around 3200 feet
Northern Hardwood & Mixed-Mesophytic Forest
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This ecosystem is also reflective of the wettest area in Virginia, with monthly precipitation averages over the longer-term around 6.00" that includes heavy winter falls of snow.

During August 2016 a total of 5.78" of rain fell at Big Cherry Dam versus around 7.00" amid the basin head, over the Swamp Forest and Beaver Meadows.  The peak of High Knob stands as one of several 
lofty peaks forming the head of Big Cherry Lake basin.

August 31, 2016
Club Fungus ( Clavulinopsis aurantiocinnabarina )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

August 31, 2016
Wild Water Reflections In Clear Water
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

August 31, 2016
High Knob Meadow
Sugar Maple ( Acer saccharum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

August 31, 2016
Red Elderberry ( Sambucus racemosa )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

August 31, 2016
Goldenrods ( Solidago spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

August 31, 2016
Possible Coneflower Species With Other Plants
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

August 31, 2016
Possible Coneflower Species With Other Plants
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

August 31, 2016
Snakeroot ( Ageratina spp. ) 
Virgin's-bower ( Clematis spp. ) and
Yellow Jewelweed ( Impatiens pallida )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

August 31, 2016
Peak of High Knob Massif
High Knob Lookout - High Knob Meadow
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
Wetland Valley of High Knob Massif
Canadian Hemlock ( Tsuga candensis ) Cut 
By North American Beaver ( Castor canadensis )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
Big Cherry Lake Basin
High Elevation Wetland In High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
Big Cherry Lake Basin
High Elevation Wetland In High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
Big Cherry Lake Basin
High Elevation Wetland In High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
Big Cherry Lake Basin
High Elevation Wetland In High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
Big Cherry Lake Basin
Turkey-tail Polypore ( Trametes versicolor )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
Big Cherry Lake Basin
Water Reflections On The Upper South Fork
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
Big Cherry Lake Basin
Water Reflections On The Upper South Fork
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Mississippian Age Channels 
Of The High Knob Massif

Channels formed in Silurian age sandstones capping Clinch Mountain are famous; however, 
few know about the channels which are carved within Mississippian age sandstones in the 
High Knob Massif.

September 6, 2016
High Knob Massif
The Channels of Mississippian Stratigraphy
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
High Knob Massif
The Channels of Mississippian Stratigraphy
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
High Knob Massif
The Channels of Mississippian Stratigraphy
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
High Knob Massif
Yellow Birch ( Betula alleghaniensis )
The Channels of Mississippian Stratigraphy
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
High Knob Massif
The Channels of Mississippian Stratigraphy
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
Beautiful Yellow Birch In Late PM Light
The Channels of Mississippian Stratigraphy
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
Lichen Covered Rocks - High Knob Massif
The Channels of Mississippian Stratigraphy
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
High Knob Massif
Channels of Mississippian Stratas
Rocktripe Lichen ( Umbilicaria spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
High Knob Massif
The Channels of Mississippian Stratigraphy
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
High Knob Massif
The Channels of Mississippian Stratigraphy
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 6, 2016
High Knob Massif
The Channels of Mississippian Stratigraphy
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Northern Hardwoods Dominated Ecosystem

Seepage Swamp Forest
Head Of Big Cherry Lake Basin

The Big Cherry Lake Basin is unique from one end to the other, with a swamp forest in the basin head above miles of beaver controlled ponds and marshes upstream of the lake.

A long, high valley corridor that contains the most extensive wetlands within the 150 air mile expanse of the Cumberland Mountains.

September 11, 2016
High Knob Massif
Head of South Fork Powell River
High Valley Seepage Swamp Forest
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A visit on September 11 featured afternoon temperatures in the mid-upper 60s amid the 
high valley, with a nice breeze.  

September 11, 2016
High Valley Seepage Swamp Forest
Mosses Reproducing Following Rain
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 11, 2016
High Valley of High Knob Massif
Abundant Bryophytes & Fungi In Swamp Forest
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 11, 2016
High Valley Seepage Swamp Forest
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 11, 2016
Fresh Activity In High Valley Swamp Forest
North American Beaver ( Castor canadensis )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 11, 2016
High Valley Elevation Around 3200 feet
Above Ground Roots In Swamp Forest
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The MAX temperature observed in the valley during the September 6-11 period reached 78 degrees, with around 0.50" of rain falling into 
early hours of September 11.

Although the first half of September has been dry, the summer was
wet throughout the High Knob Massif area from the Big Stone Gap WP across Big Cherry Lake Basin to the City of Norton WP and adjoining basins of the Norton Reservoirs and High Knob Lake.

Big Cherry Lake Dam
Monthly Precipitation Totals
Observer: Gary Hampton
Water Elevation 3120 feet

2016

January: 7.43"

February: 8.03"

March: 2.18"

April: 4.64"

May: 6.57"

June: 5.75"

July: 7.70"

August: 5.78"

*June 1-August 31: 19.23" ( M )
( Meteorological Summer 2016 )

September 1-19: 2.72"

2016 Total: 50.80" ( M )
**Up to 55.00" in Upper Valleys

Average Per Month: 5.27"
( January 1 to September 19 in 2016 )

*Only 2 hand-measurements were made at the Lake during
July, with 22 days in between them to result in significant
evaporation from the rain gauge ( likely more than 0.50" ).

( M ) - Indicates missing data due to evaporation between
hand-measurements throughout the year and from losses in
deep snowfall during the cold season.

Up to 22.00"+ of rain fell during June-August in the upper valleys of the Big Cherry Lake Basin, with other specific totals in the area including 19.67" at the City of Norton Water Plant and 20.00" at the Big Stone Gap Water Plant ( South Fork Gorge ).

September 15, 2016
American Beech ( Fagus grandifolia )
Above Ground Roots In Swamp Forest
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 15, 2016
Swamp Forest of High Knob Massif
Above Ground Roots In Northern Woods
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 15, 2016
Yellow Birch ( Betula alleghaniensis )
Above Ground Roots In Northern Woods
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 15, 2016
Swamp Forest of High Knob Massif
Above Ground Roots In Northern Woods
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 15, 2016
Northern Woods of High Knob Massif
Array Of Fungi Grow In Swamp Forest
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 15, 2016
Northern Woods of High Knob Massif
Array Of Fungi Grow In Swamp Forest
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 15, 2016
Northern Woods of High Knob Massif
Array Of Fungi Grow In Swamp Forest
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 15, 2016
Swamp Forest of High Knob Massif
Above Ground Roots In Northern Woods
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The MAX temperature observed in the upper valley during September 12-15 reached 73 degrees, with a huge contrast between here and the Tri-Cities. 

An especially large contrast was observed on September 14 when PM temperatures fell into the 60s ( versus low 90s at the same time in the Tri-Cities ) as clouds and local downpours left a muggy, moisture laden air mass in the high valleys.

September 20, 2016
Swamp Forest of High Knob Massif
Fungi & Bryophyte Haven - Upper Big Cherry
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 20, 2016
Swamp Forest of High Knob Massif
Fungi & Bryophyte Haven - High Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 20, 2016
Swamp Forest of High Knob Massif
Fungi & Fern Haven - High Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 20, 2016
Upper Valleys of Big Cherry Basin
Fungi Haven In Wettest Terrain In Virginia
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 20, 2016
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif
Fungi & Bryophyte Haven In Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 20, 2016
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif
Fungi Haven Within Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 20, 2016
( One of Dozens of Land Snail Species )
Land Snail In High Valleys of Big Cherry Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 20, 2016
Swamp Forest of High Knob Massif
Majestic Upper Valleys of Big Cherry Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 20, 2016
Swamp Forest of High Knob Massif
Majestic Upper Valleys of Big Cherry Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 20, 2016
Swamp Forest of High Knob Massif
Majestic Upper Valleys of Big Cherry Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 20, 2016
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif
Every Niche Is Filled With Life Forms
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 20, 2016
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif
Every Niche Is Filled With Life Forms
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 20, 2016
Upper Tennessee River Basin of High Knob Massif
Fern Glade In High Valleys of Big Cherry Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 20, 2016
High Knob High Country
Fern Glade In High Valleys of Big Cherry Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 20, 2016
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif
Early Signs Of Autumn In High Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 20, 2016
A Little Color Beginning To Develop
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 20, 2016
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Autumn Coloration Running Behind Schedule
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 24, 2016
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif
Fungi Haven Within Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 24, 2016
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif
Fungi Haven Within Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 24, 2016
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif
Fungi Haven Within Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 24, 2016
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif
Fern Haven Within Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 24, 2016
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif
Majestic Fern Glade In Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 24, 2016
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif
Majestic Fern Glade In Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

September 24, 2016
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif
Majestic Fern Glade In Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

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