Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

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





More violets



More violets

Star chickweed

Star chickweed

Hepatica with a spring beauty bloom

Hepatica with a spring beauty bloom



Virginia waterleaf

Virginia waterleaf

Early Mayapples

Early Mayapples


2nd snow of 2014

The second snowfall of the year is happening right now and there’s actual accumulation. It snowed a week ago, but it was mostly a dusting and disappeared in a matter of days.

2nd snow of 2014

This snow looks like it’s going to stick around for a bit.

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



Cut-leaf toothwort

Spring beauty


Rue anemone

Large-flowered bellwort

Yellow Corydalis

Ground ivy or a violet

April snow

It wasn’t that many days ago I sat at our patio table studying. It was sunny and warm. Who could ask for anything more in early spring?

Today was supposed to be a cool 40 degrees Fahrenheit with some rain. Now? It’s snowing. Here’s hoping that the saying “April showers bring May flowers” also pertains to April snow. 🙂



Big Bend Picnic Area, Big Walker Mountain, Wytheville, Va.

Updated: I had a plant mislabeled. See below

We’ve visited the Big Bend Picnic Area twice in the past couple of months. Though it’s a picnic site, we didn’t take a lunch with us. We were there to explore the Big Walker Mountain area.

A turk’s cap lily.
A mondara, or bee balm. A friend corrected me and said this is a “wild bergamot.” Oops!

Chris has lamented the lack of butterflies this year. He’s almost convinced they’re all hiding out here on the mountain. There are many butterflies and other insects along the dirt road by the picnic area.

The last time we visited, Chris was able to get a few good photos of butterflies, including the rare Diana fritillary.

This is a male Diana fritillary. The female is brown with blue. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.)

Other areas to check out while you’re on Big Walker includes the country store and Monster Rock Trail, which has a trail head located behind the store.

There’s also Seven Sisters Trail and the Stony Fork Campground, which are both located at the foot of the mountain. The Seven Sisters Trail winds 4.8 miles up the mountain to the campground.

Big Survey Wildlife Management Area, Wytheville, Va.

A few weeks ago, we checked out Big Survey Wildlife Management Area, which is a fairly new addition to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ land. It’s located of Interstates 77/81 near Wytheville, Va.

We parked at the trail head of High Rocks Trail and hiked about 1.5 miles to the top of a hill, which overlooks Wytheville.

The trail has a fairly moderate incline. I was proud of myself, as a person with asthma, for making it up the trail without having to pause for breath.

The top of the trail had an awesome view.

Beware, though, the trail is covered with big rocks, so it is easy to lose your footing. It reminded me of walking in the middle of a intermittent spring. Luckily, it had not rained recently so the moss and rocks were not wet.

Though the rocks didn’t get me on the way up, I did fall on the way down!

So, if you’ve got little ones, I’d think twice about taking them on this trail. There was a man with a little boy (maybe 8-years-old) on the trail when we were there, but the kid was well-behaved and didn’t attempt to run ahead. They took their time picking among the rocks and made it to the top in time to enjoy a nice picnic lunch around noon.

Here’s some photos from the trip:

A blueberry bush.
A bench to rest on at the end of the trail.