The Shining Rock Wilderness Area, which is seen in the distance, is the largest wilderness area in the state of North Carolina. It is removed from civilization, which makes it one of the only places where you can go to see native plants and how the ecosystems operate in succession left to their own without interference from the hand of man. Next time Takoda and I go back, we are going to have to go all the way to Shining Rock.
Though many of the plants were shedding their leaves, flowers, and berries, it was still apparent just how much biodiversity exists up here in this undisturbed area. The clouds were bruised and heavy and I really felt as if fall was giving a final gasp, while in lower elevations near where I live it had only just begun.
Walking across the open field with the wind blowing in our faces reminded me of battling the elements on English moors.
The path got narrower and on either side the ground was teeming with biodiversity. Each square centimeter of ground was covered with algae, lichen, grasses, and plants. Though the tress had lost their leaves, the ground cover was teeming with life.
Asters, other plants, grasses and shrubs were all growing high on the Art Loeb trail. The access to sun and lack of towering trees created good conditions for vegetation to flouriwh.
The roots of this pine stopped me in my tracks. There were lichen and algaes growing everywhere and I suspected the mycorrhizae were flourishing too, doing their part in the woods wide web. The mycorrhizae help the trees attract the rite sorts of nutrients. When the fungi approach trees, the trees growing less hairy roots and prepare themselves to be a better hostWhen I see a sight like this, I always think how much we can learn from the forest about diplomacy and working together.
On our return, Takoda and I took the Ivestor Gap Trail back to our car. We passed this incredible rocky outcropping that was also teeming with life, just like the mountain trails.
On the way to and from Black Balsam, I stopped to see the fog and some fall color starting. This was closer to Asheville, so the trees hadn't turned too much. The image below was from an overlook a bit higher up.
The last thing I did on the way home was stop by the side of the road and photograph the Lower falls at Graveyard Fields. By the time I went back and hiked in the area a few days later, most of the leaves were gone. It turned out to be fortunate that I stopped.