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Posts Tagged ‘Photos’

It’s a pity when life gets in the way of blogging (just kidding!). But I have so many thoughts and experiences from the summer that I could blog for quite some time. It is not likely to happen as I see more things happening soon, but that’s OK.

I did want to share a few thoughts and pictures. I don’t often suggest books for several reasons. I do more technical reading than reading for pleasure, and frankly many books don’t meet my high standard of what I would unreservedly pass on to those I call friends, or enemies for that matter since I want them to one day be friends. A book that I can enthusiastically suggest is “The Book That Made Your World, How the Bible Created the soul of Western Civilization” by Vishal Mangalwadi. Because of his culture and his faith he simultaneously looks at the West as an outsider and insider at the same time. I keep having the feeling that he is correcting much error from lies our culture has fed us about how we got to where we are. He uses personal experiences and copious quotes to show the deep imprint of the Bible on western culture. I think that you will hear more about it here once I am finished with it.

My friend, colleague, and climbing partner, CC, took me to two boulders I’d never been to before. In fact, he had only been there a few days before with another climbing buddy for the first time cleaning about ten problems, laying a thick base of branches in a wet spot, and clearing part of a large fallen tree. I was privileged to try out the new rock. I like to go back to old familiar routes, but there is a particular excitement about trying new routes, and particularly ones that haven’t been climbed before. I was definitely not climbing at the top of my game, only topping out on a V1 and 3 V2’s. I tried two V4 and got shut down. Both problems involved a gaston with my left hand that I could not stick. It has challenged me to train that weakness. On the second one I discovered that if I did a side pull with my right hand instead, I could top out to the left much easier. We both agreed that it would rate as a V2. I decided to name it “Easy Out”. The two pictures are of me on the right sidepull and the topout. We saw several Cardinal Flowers in the wet, rich spots by the creek. I definitely want to go back, and hopefully clean some problems on new rock myself. (Photo credit: CC with his phone)

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Lobelia cardinalis

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Taking it “Easy..”

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“Easy Out”

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Best Laid Plans

Every now and then I try to video myself climbing, almost always bouldering. I went climbing with three guys two weeks ago who are about 30 years old, much better than me and working on a V-10. One of them almost completed it, falling after the crux (hardest part). I was working on a V-4 immediately next to the V-10 and completed it after about 4 tries. I was pleased with myself and thought I could do it again and video it. When I watched the replay I laughed quite abit. I showed it to the guys for a laugh. Check it out at V-4 called “Put Your Back Into It”

The sequence of photos below gives a vague idea of the process of working a problem. It’s about planning, cleaning holds, training for crux moves, practicing different sequencing, and trying again and again. It may take one session or several years. This group had already been working on it for several sessions. A week later the guy without a shirt completed it. Everyone progresses at their own rate. I guess that is why they put up with me and even cheer me on. There is considerable competition between these guys but they are more challenged by someone else getting to the top.

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Arrival Inspection

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Cleaning Holds

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Remembering Sequences

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The Bouldering Buddies

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Stack Carefully

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Photo Op before working the problem

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After a fire in 1925 the stumps of the recently logged area appeared as grave markers to some and the eroded soil and shallow bedrock prevented the forest from coming back in places, thus the name. 100_9964100_9963

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Upper Falls

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From the top of the Upper Falls

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Light rain, fog, lush spruce and wildflower growth

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Viburnum sp?

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Any idea which species?

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Just above the Lower Falls

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Looking down over the Lower Falls

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Lower Falls

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Enjoying some time together

The day could have been a wash, driving 2 hours to see it rain. Upon approach, the fog seemed unavoidable. The light rain started soon after we started walking and continued almost the whole time. When we got to the top of the Upper Falls, thinking to just take a  quick look and head for the car, we found a spruce tree, rhododendron combination that was keeping the rock at creek’s edge dry. We sat down for a lunch and snooze. I walked upstream a bit while my son snoozed on. It was a quiet time together with no one on the trail all the way back. In route to the Lower Falls we crossed the “fields”, heather thicket really, with scattered wildflowers. The hike was shorter than we had planned because we didn’t really want to get up on bare, Black Balsam with the possibility of heavier rain or lightning, but it was pleasant and relaxed. We both agreed it was an enjoyable time together and in the woods (fields).

 

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Labor Day Play

After a good sleep in we went to the park. It has all kinds of things to climb on and swing on. Active but chill, that’s my kind of holiday.

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To paraphrase, children and grandchildren are a gift from the Lord. As distance and years pass it is harder to have quality time with either. My daughter commented that with a child you can do things that most adults (so called responsible adults) wouldn’t do. It is good that my grand-daughter has a mother who will play with her in the rain. It has been an exceptionally wet summer where I live, but 4 hours away where my daughter lives it has been an exceptionally dry summer. I’m thinking, “Oh, rain again.” My daughter is thinking, “Oh, rain again!” You have to supply intonation based on context.

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Before I ever started rock climbing I used to hike… alot, thousands of miles over the years. In high school and college it was backpacking with day hikes to get in shape. I continued after marriage but increased responsibilities as time went along resulted in reduced overnight trips. Not to worry, because I used to take my green daypack, a child on my shoulders, and go. Summer, winter, it made little difference. About 15 years ago I scrambled into the more vertical sport so that the majority of hikes were approaches. I still climb but I see that climbing may have to be set aside in a few years (not slowing down at the moment, though). The time off from hiking just warms my desire to do some more. I like new places but I’m not shy about visiting old haunts. I have hiked (in a day or overnight) to Hump Mountain on the Tennessee/North Carolina border nearly 30 times since 1977. It has been my go to when someone wants to experience backpacking for the first time. I have hiked several times this summer, once to Purchase Knob (see previous blog entry). Several weeks before that hike I went with some new friends to South Mountains State Park. It has one hike that most anyone would enjoy and is not too overwhelming- High Shoals Falls.

The water was low at the falls, which is odd considering how much rain we have had. I guess the water level drops fast after just a few days of no rain. That didn’t dry our enthusiasm a bit. There was plenty to talk about and plenty to see along the way.

I enjoy getting to know people on a hike. You can talk about nature which leads to many subjects you might not otherwise find out about a person. They certainly learned some things about my spider research in college. I studied Agelenid intraspecies competition in the lab, the woods, and the desert. (Curious side note: As I am composing the number of spiderlings that just left their egg sack and are moving back and forth across my computer screen is growing. They are too small for my unaided eye to discern variety although P. tepidariorum (“common house spider”) is the most likely candidate.) There are about a baker’s dozen of Agelenid species in the US. I remember that most of my study involved the A. aperta from New Mexico and Arizona.

The picnic meal was particularly good- Mexican on the grill. I had hiked with the father and young children several other times to mountain tops. This was a nice change. We played in the creek several places, seeing crawdads and minnows. We talked about plant life along the trail both herbaceous and arborescent. It was an enjoyable day, the likes of which I’d like to repeat. We even left just before it began to rain. God gifted us with a beautiful day and good conversation.

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Purchase Knob

Before two weekends ago I had not seen any of my brothers for a year and a half, some for much longer. We had a cookout at my youngest brother’s house with spouses and a few children and grandchildren. During the conversation we planned a hike for Friday to the Purchase Knob area of the Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the location of the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center. The hike we took went along the border of “The Swag”, a Bed and Breakfast that allows hikers to visit their viewing lawn. The weather has been moist for a month and the fungi are out. With more time and patience I could have gotten some really good pictures of the abundant and colorful fruiting bodies of diverse mycelia. One of my sister-in-laws is known for her love and identification of wildflowers. She said she wants to know fungi better. Here’s a place to start.

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Cep or Penny Bun?

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Lush creek side

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Green Cracking Russula (Russula virescens)

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Students coming down from the Learning Center

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Bee Balm soothing a Pipevine Swallowtail

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Winesaps?

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Furguson Cabin

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Black Earth Tongue

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Doll’s-Eye or White Baneberry

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Yellow Wart (Amanita flavoconia)

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“Good Fences Make Good Neighbors”?

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Orange Peel Cup Mushroom

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White Coral Fungus

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Earth Cup Mushroom?

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Catch some rays and relax

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Maggie Valley

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Nice smiles! OK, I was trying to make sure the camera was working.

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Great Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum)

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Insulation, flight, camouflage, mating, ….versatile… not by chance!

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Coral Fungus

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Chanterelles?

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So many colorful varieties

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Death Angel

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Taking in The Swag view

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The Real Purchase Knob

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Hiding under a rock on top of the knob

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Do you see the fairy ring that I found near the top of Purchase Knob?

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Elegant Stinkhorn

The variety and beauty of God’s creation! I could go out every weekend and never get tired of learning and looking.

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