According to the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, “The Stalked Hairy Fairy Cup is one of a number of very small, beautiful cup fungi that are covered with hairs.” Enough said? This dainty life form lives on a tree at Wayah Bald, NC — 5,000 feet up, very exposed to extremes and very beautiful. ☙
Reportedly it has been a bumper-crop-year for mushrooms in western North Carolina. Lucky me! A few days ago I posted Little Helmets, lovely white fungi that are about 2cm in height (about 3/4″). Today I present a 20+cm beauty, a Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus) discovered along the road to Wayah Bald. Remarkably these two mushrooms are in the same family (Inky Cap or Coprinus)! But they certainly present differently. The Little Helmets were all clustered together near a woodpile. The Shaggy Mane stood in solitary splendor at a hairpin curve on Wyaha Bald Road. ☙
Another resident of Wayah Bald.
My BFF Tango, on a log on Wayah Bald.
My trip to Wayah Bald yielded many photos. This Common Sulphur butterfly was busy working the flowers in a fairly substantial wind. It always amazes me how something so fragile can endure so much buffeting.☙
It was a spectacular day here in Franklin. It began with fog which, I am learning, is common for the summer morns. But by 11-ish the fog was lifting and the Sun broke through with an energy that almost screamed “Come out and play!” Truth is I had already been laying plans to do so. My move to Franklin from Sarasota seems to be “over the hump.” Boxes are emptied, things are finding places to be, pictures are finding their way to new spots on new walls. There is a vast sense of “Whew!” Yesterday I spent time studying the “North Carolina Atlas and Gazetteer,” a parting gift from a Sarasota friend. My eye settled on Wayah Bald and how close it seemed to me. I decided if tomorrow was decent we (Tango and I) would head up the road and check things out.
The drive was pleasant and I was surprised at the lack of traffic but Wayah Bald is off the beaten track. Far from Asheville and even farther from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Wayah seems to cater more to the individualist. When you reach the turn-off from the state road it suddenly turns to dirt and becomes more and more narrow as you climb to the top. This is not a road for the BMWs or Mercedes of the world. What distance doesn’t weed-out the road condition will. When we got to the top we found a very nice parking area, restrooms and, of course, US Park Service signage, always informative…except about these rocks.
The rocks are contained in a circular grassy area at the very top. I initially thought that perhaps they related to the Cherokee tribes. I recently learned there were seven Cherokee tribes… clearly there are way more than seven rocks. I could find no explanation, either on-site or online.
So, feeling confident that I wasn’t violating some sacred Indian area, I chose a rock and had a seat while eating my egg-salad sandwich. Tango, ever the gourmet, thought it was a wonderful idea and became so attentive that I decided to put my sandwich to good use and had him pose on one of the rocks while dangling a bit of egg-salad in front of him. He’s really a cheap date! 🙂
After finishing our lunch we wandered down to the Wayah Bald Fire Tower, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1937 ( the year my parents were married). These CCC projects always tug at my emotions. There was such good intent in their endeavors and it involved so many men (it was always men) into situations they had never encountered — working as a team with others from different walks of life, out in the open air, sending a required portion of their wage home. All of that would have been enough but the bonus is these projects, like Wayah Bald Fire Tower, that have lasted long after the need for the CCC has passed. The Great Depression of the 1930s was a terrible time but there was good that emerged from it.
The Wayah Bald Fire Tower was built, as the name suggests, to help report and contain forest fires. It was decommissioned in 1945 when erosion of the structure made in unsafe and it was determined other nearby lookouts could do the job. But here we are, in 2013, and the Tower is still with us. Its innards are long gone and the exterior has been revitalized several times. But the important part of the Wayah Tower is the view. When you climb the 20 or so steps to the top you get to see this:
Now that’s a good investment! Wayah Bald is a wonderful treasure. Not unlike a treasure I left behind in Sarasota, Myakka River State Park. It struck me that the distance to each from my “home” is the same — 15 miles. I may have found my new playground today. There were many wildflowers and hiking paths that called out. It’s always nice to find a jewel in the neighborhood. ☙