Wild flame azalea
Shenandoah National Park, April 25, 2023 — My new job as club president is keeping my away from the outdoors, more than I would have thought. In addition, this month’s Hoodlums work trip was rained out. I needed an outdoor fix.
My excuse: Yesterday was the park staff’s annual meeting with its partners – park association, trust, concessionaire, and volunteer organizations. It’s a chance to share, learn and maintain relationships. After the meeting I drove an hour northward.
A blowdown was calling near the summit on the section Caroline and I maintain. After the meeting, I dashed up the mountain to clear it. It was a step-over, so not the highest priority. We left it during spring cleaning because we didn’t think we had time to cut it with a hand saw.
The weather was ideal, a sunny 47 degrees. No breeze and no sweat on the hike up to the summit. It’s been awhile since I’ve been solo. The solitude was priceless.
Got there and it was gone. Much later I realized our first ridgerunner was on the trail and that he probably removed it. Meanwhile, the greenbrier and blackberry canes are starting to go nuts. My clippers clocked overtime.
The inspection established everything was in shipshape. The spring was flowing well. No major concerns other than we can anticipate more than our fair share of weeds.
The azalea and mountain laurel are beginning to bloom. We have a walkabout planned for May 13 to catch peak flowers. That date seems about right.
As one might expect, the animals are very active.
Coyotes mark their territory with scat. It’s possible that this is two males arguing over the boundary. This has happened several times along game trails lower down. This rock was part of some steps much further up the mountain, so I’m not certain exactly what the story is. In addition, found some bear scat, cub size, near the trailhead. That’s the fist bear scat in awhile.
Fresh bear activity. There’s not much to eat right now – mostly acorns and other nuts under the leaf litter, and insects. The bears use their claws to shred rotting logs to expose the bugs inside. This is a black birch. They are soft and rot quickly – good bug habitat.
Blowdowns never end. This one is a minor obstruction at 12″ in diameter. It’s going to need a bigger saw. We’ll get it next work trip which should be May 20.