Finally Hiked the Billy Goat Trail, Section A

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Clitoria mariana (butterfly pea, Atlantic pigeonwings); Fabaceae

I’ve written before that I stay away from the Billy Goat A trail – haven’t been there in years, actually – mostly because it’s overused, and I like solitude in the wilderness, but also because wildflowers generally don’t grow well where there’s lots of foot traffic. So what’s the point?

Nonetheless a friend convinced me to give it a go. By 9 o’clock last Friday morning when we parked near Old Anglers Inn, the temperature was already near 90º F, and the humidity was in the 90s as well. It was brutal but hey, at least it wasn’t crowded.

Anyway I schlepped the camera along, just in case, but not the tripod (didn’t want to bore my friend to tears). We saw some expected flowers – two species of Eupatorium, some wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) just starting to open. And we saw some unexpected: a good amount of bushy St. Johnswort (Hypericum prolificum), a few Atlantic pigeonwings (Clitoria mariana), a magnificent specimen of flowering spurge (Euphorbia corollata), some seedbox (Ludwigia alternifolia), and a single clump of purple-headed sneezeweed (Helenium flexuosum).

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Helenium flexuosum (purple-headed sneezeweed); Asteraceae

And then we found two species that I’d never seen before. But of course I was just taking snapshots, and a breeze was blowing (excuses, excuses), so my pictures suck.

By the time this piece autoposts Monday morning I expect to be back on Billy Goat A, with full camera kit on my back, trying to get good photos for new blog entries in the next few days.

 

New (to Me)

Though by no means an expert, I have a pretty good handle on what’s to be found in the area of the Billy Goat B and C trails. So I haven’t been out there as often this year, which means I haven’t found much that’s new and exciting.

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So the other day I walked upstream from Old Angler’s Inn, past Widewater, and went just a little ways up one of the Billy Goat A access trails, and partway along Billy Goat A itself.

Billy Goat A is “the” Billy Goat Trail, as popular ’round here as Old Rag Mountain is in Shenandoah National Park. On a Wednesday afternoon in August, there was no escaping the sound of people talking.  Or the sight of people (and their dogs, prohibited on BGA) walking.

The problem (other than I hike for solitude in nature, not for listening to other people prattling on) is that the Billy Goat Trail and Bear Island are being loved to death.  Have been loved to death, really, over many years. So believe it or not, I was actually pleased to see this sign

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along with many signs telling people not to leave the trail. Which is a bit of a bummer for me, but if that’s what it takes, I’ll comply.

Wish everyone else would, too.  Wish people would treat the area with a little respect while using it as their playground.

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At any rate, in one of the side pools along the canal at Widewater something caught my eye.

small water plantain
Alisma subcordatum
Alismataceae

 

Conditions were sub-optimal for close-up photography.  It was shady, breezy, and I didn’t have the tripod along, which meant in order to get a reasonably not-blurry picture I had to increase the shutter speed, which meant I had to bump the ISO way up (the above picture was shot at ISO 1600), which means noise and not-too-clear pictures…

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…and no good close-ups of the flowers, which are itty-bitty. No more than 1/8″ across. Perhaps I’ll go back soon and try again.

Small water plantain is an emergent aquatic plant that can be found across most the the US and Canada, except for a few western and northwestern states and provinces.  And there’s really not much else to say about it, except that I found something new (to me).

20150812-20150812-_DSC0017stay still, darn it!