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.

Trillium

Trillium

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.

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Easter wildflower hike

We took our annual Easter wildflower hike last weekend. For the past six years, we’ve spent a few hours Easter Sunday on the Austinville section of the New River Trail State Park.

With notebook and pen, Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide and water, we look for now-familiar flowers and identify new ones. I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks now, especially since this will be our final Easter walk on the New River Trail. This year, we left Newcomb’s and the notebook at home.We were too tired from painting the ramp in front of our house, so I captured what I could with my point-and-shoot Kodak camera.

The recent cold snaps didn’t hurt the plants as much as we expected they would. Many of the cut leaf toothwort, Dutchmen’s breeches and wild columbine blooms had fallen victim to the cold, but some of the stragglers were budding or in bloom. The weather was perfect — sunny, but not too warm.

In addition to the blooms, we saw a black Eastern tiger swallowtail, a comma or question mark and a female mallard.

Here are some of the plants we found:

Dutchmen's breeches

Dutchmen’s breeches

Wild columbine

Wild columbine

Bloodroot

Bloodroot

Bellwort

Bellwort

More violets

Violets

Violets

More violets

Star chickweed

Star chickweed

Hepatica with a spring beauty bloom

Hepatica with a spring beauty bloom

Ginger

Ginger

Virginia waterleaf

Virginia waterleaf

Early Mayapples

Early Mayapples


First Day Hike

Chris, Sidney, and I attended a First Day Hike with our friend, Brenda, and a handful of other folks at the Foster Falls section of the New River Trail State Park. We toured the Foster Falls community, Shot Tower, and the Austinville site, which the park just acquired.

Group photo in front of the entrance to the old mine in Austinville, Va.

Group photo in front of the entrance to the old mine in Austinville, Va.

All state parks in Virginia and North Carolina offered hikes on New Year’s Day, and I’m sure other state parks across the nation did, as well. This was a great way to start the new year. I hope you spent Jan. 1 enjoying great company and doing things you love.

Foster Falls is my favorite section of the New River Trail. It’s the former site of an orphanage and a hotel that served the mining community along the rail line. The trail head features old mill buildings, a pig iron furnace, a livery, bike and canoe rentals and camping. The 57-mile New River Trail lies along a former Norfolk Southern rail line from Pulaski to Galax and Fries.

Shot Tower at Jackson's Ferry, near Foster Falls, Va.

Shot Tower at Jackson’s Ferry, near Foster Falls, Va.

Group inside Shot Tower learning how shot was made from molten lead.

Shot of the group learning how shot was made from molten lead inside Shot Tower.

Foster Falls furnace

Foster Falls furnace

Foster Falls hotel

Foster Falls hotel


Some spring flowers

This spring is shaping up to be the best one we’ve had in a long time. Already we’ve seen and id’d lots of beautiful wildflowers, butterflies and birds.

Here’s some flowers we found Friday and yesterday evening. I’ve identified most of them. If I’ve mislabeled them or I’ve left some blank and you know what it is, please let me know in the comments!

Dutchman’s breeches
Bloodroot

Hepatica

Twinleaf

Cut-leaf toothwort

Spring beauty

Trillium

Rue anemone

Large-flowered bellwort

Yellow Corydalis

Ground ivy or a violet


Photos from New River Trail — Byllesby and Buck Dams

Before Chris had to cover the Hillsville 4th of July parade for The Gazette, we took a walk on the New River Trail State Park at Byllesby and Buck Dams. Here’s some photos I took during the walk

Chris sitting on a boat launch, waiting to snap photos of dragonflies
(Photos by E.A. Seagraves/Please do not use without permission)

Some type of pea

A honeybee on a pea blossom

I believe this is some type of yarrow

The New River

Blackberries

A fritillary butterfly on a bergamot, or something like that.

And here are some shots taken as I tried to be “creative.”

Buck Dam

A structure found at Buck Dam beside the New River Trail

Another shot of Buck Dam

Pine cones, obviously

Oh, look! More pine cones!

And, because I’m so proud, check out Chris’ dragonfly photos from the same walk. He has snapped thousands of butterfly and flower photos and he’s now branching out to include dragonflies and damselflies.

You can tell the difference between dragonflies and damselflies when they land. Dragonflies don’t fold up their wings; damselflies do.

I believe there are all dragonflies: (Photos by Christopher Brooke/Please do not use without permission)


Weekend photos — May 22-23

Though I had to work Sunday and most of Saturday was spent doing chores, Chris and I did find time to take two 2.6 mile walks on the New River Trail State Park.

Here are some beauties and what I think that they are. Now, my identification skills aren’t that great and Newcomb’s just isn’t my friend, but this is what I came up with. If you have any suggestions or can correctly identify them, let me know in the comments below.

I think the flower below is possibly a campion of some kind. I’m not too sure. Any ideas?

I couldn’t find the fuzzy bloom below or anything that closely resembled it in Newcomb’s or our other wildflower book. I’m leaning toward an orchid. Anyone?

I’m certain the purple beauty below is a Virginia Waterleaf:

And, of course, this is a Virginia Spiderwort, one of Chris’ favorites:

And the very familiar fire pink:

While I was at work Sunday, Chris ventured out and took some more pictures in Carroll County and our yard. Check ’em out:

Mountain Laurel

Bug on a leaf

Tulip poplar bloom

Peony

Titmouse

And, if you were wondering, we did go to see the Embers play at Hillsville’s summer concert series, checked out the cars in the cruise in and talked with some artists at the Carter Home’s Art Festival. Chris took some pictures for The Gazette.


Flowers in bloom

Last weekend, Chris and I made, what’s becoming an annual Easter trip, to the Austinville end of the New River Trail State Park.

Like last year, we recorded the flowers we saw and the number and type of butterflies and birds we saw.

On Sunday we saw:

Flowers —

Cut Leaf Toothwort

Rue Anemone

Bloodroot

Dutchmen’s Britches

Fragrant Sumac (or, possible, Spicebush)

Coltsfoot

Butterflies — 4 blues, 4 morning cloaks, a painted lady, a question mark (or comma)

Morning Cloak

Question Mark (or a Comma)

Birds — kingfisher, cardinal