Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

A sunny, anniversary walk

Saturdays have become our Sabbath, our day of rest. Last Saturday was our anniversary, so we decided to take a long walk after missing a couple of days due to rain. We went during a break from painting the wheelchair ramp in front of our home.

At Devil’s Den, we saw yellow Eastern tiger swallowtails, fritillaries and several blooms. There were several plants we recognized that did not have blooms yet. The plants we saw included showy orchis, lady slippers, Mayapples, dwarf wild iris, rue anemone, geranium, trillium, bellwort, cutleaf toothwort and bloodroot.

Showy orchis

Showy orchis

A bloodroot leaf (left) and cutleaf toothwort.

A bloodroot leaf (left) and cutleaf toothwort.



The leaves of dwarf crested irises.

The leaves of dwarf crested irises.

Lady slipper leaves.

Lady slipper leaves.

Many new four-wheeler trails have, unfortunately, been created in the woods. That means there is less places for the trilliums, orchids and other wildflowers to bloom. You’d think people would have more respect for a nature preserve, but they do not. It’s very unfortunate. In years past, the hillside would be covered with trilliums. It was an ethereal sight.

We also visited the Hiwassee end of the New River Trail and saw squirrel corn! It’s the first time I’d ever seen them in person. It looks very similar to Dutchmen’s breeches, except it is round at the top. Great end to the weekend.

Hunting for caterpillars

Yesterday afternoon, Chris, Sidney and I went in hunt of a new air mattress for some upcoming camping trips. I was disappointed to find that Fancy Gap Outfitters in Mount Airy (N.C.) had closed. So we eventually made our way back up the mountain and stopped in at Magic Mart (Galax, Va.) where we found not only air mattresses, but cots, tarps and other camping gear. (We only needed and bought the mattress.)

While out and about, Chris insisted on stopping along the way to scope out milkweed for caterpillars, particularly monarch caterpillars. We started out in our backyard. Chris found several monarch caterpillars and, as usual, tons of tussock milkweed moth caterpillars:

Chris in our backyard.

Chris in our backyard.

A tusk (left) and monarch caterpillars on swamp milkweed in our backyard.

A tussock milkweed moth (left) and monarch caterpillars on swamp milkweed in our backyard.

Next up was the Emily B. Taylor Greenway┬áin Mount Airy (N.C.). We didn’t see any caterpillars, though.

Emily B. Taylor Greenway

Emily B. Taylor Greenway. You can faintly see two dragonflies in the upper right of this photo.

Besides goldenrod, these beautiful flowers were in bloom.

Besides goldenrod, these beautiful flowers were in bloom.

Kudzu beetles on the underside of the kudzu leaf.

Kudzu beetles on the underside of the kudzu leaf.

On the way to Galax, we stopped at Devil’s Den (Fancy Gap, Va.), but someone had already mowed the meadow, which is sad. Just a couple of weeks ago this field was full of milkweed and there were lots of monarchs flitting around. Most of the monarch caterpillars won’t emerge from their chrysalis until late October. I wish the preserve would have waited until early November to mow.

Devil's Den Wildlife Preserve, Fancy Gap, Va.

Devil’s Den Wildlife Preserve, Fancy Gap, Va.

We did find this guy at one of the overlooks.

This fella is on a bench at one of the overlooks. I about sat on him.

This fella is on a bench at one of the overlooks. I about sat on him.

Top of caterpillar

Maybe another type of tussock moth caterpillar? Here’s a view of the overlook.

Overlook at Devil's Den.

Overlook at Devil’s Den.

I hope other people are finding tons of caterpillars this year!


Devil’s Den, Fancy Gap, Va.

Last weekend, Chris and I decided to walk at Devil’s Den, a nature preserve in Fancy Gap, Va.

Chris had heard that warm weather grasses and flowers had been planted and was attracting a lot of butterflies. With camera in tow, we set out.

We saw black-eyed susans, purple monarda, milkweed, cone flowers and Queen Anne’s lace. Here’s some scenery shots and close-ups. I’ll spare you the many, many landscape shots I took: (All photos by E.A. Seagraves. Do not use without permission.)

My hubby and puppy. Do you see the storm clouds behind them?

Queen Anne’s lace


Black-eyed susans

We saw lots of yellow tiger swallowtails, red-spotted purples, buckeyes and black swallowtails.


Yellow tiger swallowtail on milkweed

Black butterfly on mondara

Yellow tiger swallowtail on a cone flower.

More black butterflies on mondara.

We also saw a couple of indigo buntings. It was an awesome nature viewing day.

We pulled into the preserve right after a storm was going down the mountain. We walked around about an 1 1/2 hours, taking pictures of the meadow and walking down the 0.43 mile trail to the cave, which gives the preserve its name.

The trail to the cave is pretty steep so it’s not for those who do not want to or cannot climb rocks and tree limbs.

The cave

As we walked back up the mountain side from the cave, mist started rising from the valley below. The valley must have gotten a good, cooling rain after the hot weather we’ve had. By the time we left, the preserve was covered in a thick fog.