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Walking the Moses Cone Park Carriage Trails in Boone, North Carolina

Trout Lake

Trout Lake

Trout Lake is one of two man-made lake in Moses Cone Memorial Park in Boone.  The other is Bass Lake and both have been stocked with these fish since they were first created.  Moses Cone was the Denim King, but he and his family were naturalists before that designation became popular.  The 3,516-acre park also includes Flat Top and Rich Mountain, 25 miles of carriage trails, 32,000 apple trees, as well as black, white and red oak, hickory, birch, and maple trees.  Rhododendron and mountain laurel are also planted along the trails.  Though it is a designed park, there is much natural beauty to admire and once planted much of the park was allowed to become wild.

Fallen Tree covered in Mushrooms

Fallen Tree covered in Mushrooms

The tree above had fallen in the woods and was allowed to lie there, becoming a host for many mushrooms.  I have never seen so many mushrooms on one tree before, covering almost every inch of the remaining trunk.

Mushrooms and Rhododendron

Mushrooms and Rhododendron

The density of the ecosystems supported by the fallen tree was remarkable.  There were mushrooms, lichen and moss, and the rhododendron leaves gently brushed the scene in harmony.

Fallen Tree in a Stream

Fallen Tree in a Stream

Others were left in streams causing the water to divert in different ways , as in the image above. Everywhere the banks were left wild, which is so important for ecosystems and water quality.

Natural Riparian Bank

Natural Riparian Bank

I used to want to clean nature up in my photographs, and sometimes I will still remove an errant twig from a flower blossom.  However, now I see that what is so healing about being in nature is that nature does not exclude any part of the life cycle.  Dying things help create place for new life to spring up and none of their nutrients or organic material is wasted.

Fallen Down Fence, Moses Cone Memorial Park

Fallen Down Fence, Moses Cone Memorial Park

Even old fences were allowed to fall down or remain teetering.  It somehow seemed poetic.  Man-made creations from wood left to the elements decomposed in the same way as trees that were blown over or died from natural causes.

Tree Resin Protecting a Broken Tree

Tree Resin Protecting a Broken Tree

As I was walking, I came upon this broken tree that was either cut down or snapped during a storm.  The cut was uneven, so it may have been the latter.  Resin is how trees way prevent fungal diseases and insects from invading. It also has antiseptic properties that can prevent decay and it can help seal the tree so not as much water is lost. ( https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-tree-resins-1343409).  I have often seen resin oozes out from scars, but never have I seen a stump covered so completely with it.  The image below shows the site of the break and the resin that has oozed over the edges.  

Trunk with Oozing Resin

Trunk with Oozing Resin

It was interesting to see all that was trapped inside it and how the tree still was trying to save itself even though it had lost all its branches and crown.

Layers of Trees 

Layers of Trees 

In the winter and spring, before the leaves come, the layers and layers of trees in the woods are evident.  Shadows also added to the density of the tapestry.  Yet somehow it did not feel overcrowded.  Perhaps it was the glimpse of the empty field beyond that created the sense of space.  As our planet becomes more and more overdeveloped and cramped, walking in wild spaces, even if they were originally planned and planted by man, will become increasingly necessary for human's to achieve balance.  In Japan they believe forest bathing, just being in the woods and doing nothing, is good for people's health and longevity. (https://qz.com/804022/health-benefits-japanese-forest-bathing/)

Field with Clouds, Moses Cone Memorial Park

Field with Clouds, Moses Cone Memorial Park

When I emerged from the woods onto this field, there were dramatic clouds brushing the hilltops. There was a stiff wind blowing, so stiff that I had to put my camera on top of the fencepost to get a focused image.  It reminded me that trees also provide shelter and protection.  Besides water, trees are essential to our survival and also in helping combat climate change by absorbing CO2 (https://www.arborday.org/trees/climatechange/treeshelp.cfm).  Planting trees at home, in communities in arboretums and in parks is more important than ever.