June 11 – more Monticello rambles

Hotter today, but still not too bad, considering the time of year.  My tofu delivery ended early enough for me to take a mid-day hike in the Monticello woods.  Walked a few miles up and down the mountain, all the streams and spring swollen from the recent rains, although we actually went a whole day without more rain.  Maybe we’re getting into a drying trend?

Over the months I’ve been watching these berry plants as they progressed from leafless fuzzy stalks.  Now it looks like they’re on the verge of opening up into some sort of flower or fruit.  They were everywhere out there today, countless thousands and millions of them all along the trail– when they do fruit, it’s going to be some good eating!Image

Here’s a close-up of one of the berry’s flower heads– pretty nifty.Image

Surprisingly, despite all the moisture, there weren’t many mushrooms out on the trail.  This flush of inky caps was the most interesting fungal find of the day, and I saw these less than five minutes from the trailhead. Image

There were dozens of these attractive mushrooms.  They’re either poisonous or edible– I still need to figure that out.  Till then, I won’t be eating them, but they do look cool.Image

Amazing to think how different this forest looked in the winter.  It’s like a tropical rainforest now, so green and lush with vegetation.  The ground in this area, where you can see it, is red and very clay-ey.  I wonder if that’s part of why there aren’t as many mushrooms?Image

After the first minute of the hike, I didn’t see any other people out on the trail– miles up and down the mountain, all alone with the critters of the woods.  I saw plenty of squirrels, another turtle, an enormous bird which I think may have been an owl, and this “so ugly it’s cute” toady fellow.Image

While walking up the mountain, I saw and heard a little waterfall noise, and looking through the underbrush, saw just the slightest flash of cascading water.  I checked to see whether there was a trail down to it (there wasn’t), so I scrambled off trail down to check it out.Image

It was actually kind of exciting scrambling down into the gully at the bottom of the waterfall, steep and slippery with mud.  The gully was full of enormous-leaved pawpaw trees, and the whole thing felt like explorations in some tropical jungle.  Image

The water was splashing over a 15-foot mini-cliff, into a ravine filled with pawpaw trees.  Here’s a nicely-framed view.Image

And another one of this delightful little cascade, where I took a cold shower to cool me off for the rest of the hike.Image

I stepped into the fall, and there was a lovely rainbow where the sun hit it just right.  After a nice cool shower, I risked my camera to get a shot of the rainbow, and I think it came out all right!  (the picture and the camera)Image

In places, the undergrowth was so intense that you just had to bash through it to stay on the trail.  Such a jungle!Image

View of Charlottesville from high up on the trail.  I’m not sure if I’ve posted this view or not before– it is pretty much the only view you get from this trail, in a spot where a couple of large downed trees opens a hole in the canopy.Image

On the several visits I’ve made to this area, I’ve been monitoring the growth of these wild comfrey plants.  They’ve stopped flowering in the month since I last hiked here, and now have these long stalks, with multiple seedheads(I think?) on each one.Image

Here’s a close-up of one.Image

In the final half mile or so before getting back to the truck, I spotted a deer in the path ahead of me.  I stopped to take a picture, then noticed that it was a momma deer with a little faun just off of the path to it’s right.  So cute!  I stood very still and watched them for a few minutes.  I don’t think the baby ever noticed me, but the momma sure did.  We stood watching eachother for a while, then they very calmly wandered off the trail into the brush.  On this pleasant sunny day, these deer were the only other large mammals I encountered on the trail, which is just fine with me!Image

momma deer and baby deer.Image

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2 responses to “June 11 – more Monticello rambles

  1. I’ve been loving your posts. Reminding me of all the beauty in my backyard!

    • Thanks so much! Sometimes I think that I would keep doing this–just for my own enjoyment–even if no one were reading it, but knowing that people are actually reading and enjoying what I’m posting definitely makes it more fun 🙂

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