Mountains & Streams

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Archive for category ‘Wildlife’

Dragonfly

Posted July 13th, 2014 by Jeff.
This dragonfly patiently waited on my car while I snapped some photos.

Posted in Wildlife.
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Dragonfly

Tarantula at Arcosanti

Posted August 11th, 2013 by Jeff.
My trip to the west this year took me by Arcosanti to check it out. The sun set quickly and we only got a quick look, but this guy and a few of his friends were crawling across the dirt road on the way out.

Posted in Wild, Wild West, Wildlife.
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Tarantula at Arcosanti

Grayson Highlands State Park

Posted July 27th, 2008 by Jeff.
These are some photos I took at Grayson Highlands State Park last Summer. It is one of the most wonderful places for admiring nature ever. It's located adjacent to the Mount Rogers Recreation Area, between Troutdale and Whitetop, Virginia. The park is recognized by the Audubon as a great place to birdwatch and is home to a number of wild ponies. Other wildlife can also be seen in this beautiful park, such as deer and rabbits.
Directions:
Google Map
This Google Map will take you to the park, but be sure to use the road signs to stay on Route 58, as Google's directions can be tricky to follow (the distances should be roughly correct though). Google calls the road that takes you into the park VA-362, though I don't believe it is marked as such.
Once you turn in, you will drive a short distance to park's pay station. Parking is 3 bucks, but is worth much more than that. Once you've paid, drive 2-3 miles up to the Massie Gap parking area. It's a paved parking area connected to the road on the right. You should see the trees opening up to a large clearing, where you can take Rhododendron Trail to many destinations.
You will be on the trail soon if you walk to the left of the picnic table near the parking area. Follow the trail through the gate and up the hill. Anytime from here, you're likely to see wild ponies grazing the many acres of beautiful land. Please respect the park rules and don't wander far from the trail or feed the ponies.
There are multiple trails to explore, but my friends and I chose to follow the Appalachian Trail, taking a left at the sign for the AT about a half mile from the parking area. About a half mile onto the AT, we followed Wilburn Ridge Trail, the blue blazed trail that goes up to the summit of Wilburn Ridge. The 360 degree views from here are more amazing than my camera could capture.
I read that when Rhododendrons are in bloom (May-June), Rhododendron Gap is beautiful. I think we had just missed this. It is about 2.5 miles from Massie Gap on the AT.

Posted in Appalachian Trail, Camping, Photo of the Day, Wildlife.
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Grayson Highlands State Park
Grayson Highlands State Park
Grayson Highlands State Park

Real Writer Spider

Posted October 6th, 2007 by Jeff.
Can you tell I have a thing for spiders? I like taking shots of anything up close, especially when it involves one of the most evolved lifeforms this planet has ever seen—spiders.

Posted in Photo of the Day, Wildlife.
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Real Writer Spider

“Writer” Spider

Posted October 2nd, 2007 by Jeff.
Okay, so this isn't a Writer Spider. I'm not sure what kind of spider it is, but its existence at my friend's house was only tolerated because his wife saw this spider's web and his brother's web on the opposite side of the front porch and mistook their identities. She dislikes spiders but can tolerate Writer Spiders, lucky for them.
I was a little awed by the detail I was able to capture here. If you notice, he is busy weaving his web.

Posted in Photo of the Day, Wildlife.
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“Writer” Spider

The Devil’s Bathtub

Posted October 2nd, 2007 by Jeff.
The Devil's Bathtub is a cool natural rock formation located near Fort Blackmore, Virginia. It is connected to a swimming hole, and looks like a bathtub. Devil's Fork Creek flows down a rock chute into the 'tub. The water here was about 10-12 feet deep and crystal clear to the bottom, though we probably visited at the worst possible time (back in July). Our area has been experiencing a severe drought this summer, and Devil's Fork Creek is certainly suffering from it. A local camper told me the creek was down two feet, and I don't doubt it at all.
The hike crosses the creek a few times, but what we crossed was mostly dried up, and we hardly ever had to avoid water. We wondered if the bathtub would be dried up or too low to enjoy, but it was cool despite the creek being so low. I really should come back when the flow is better, though.
On the plus side, if the water were up, I probably would not have gotten to snap any shots of this guy:
He was huge, but this pic makes him look huger. I would estimate his diameter, with legs, would have been 5-6 inches.
Directions:
Google Map
This place proved to be a little tricky for me to find. In order to get least lost, I would use the Google directions until I got to route 72, and then follow directions found on swimmingholes.info:
"From the intersection of Rt 65 and Rt 72 at Fort Blackmore, follow RT 619 north (past Rt 653) about five miles to the intersection of Rt 619 and Rt 657. (There is an apparent swimming hole and rope swing at this bridge - but may be on private land.) Go left on RT 619 over a small bridge.
[...] from [here], continue on RT 619 for about another 0.4 miles, and turn left onto a narrow gravel road [...] beside a white house with a chain link fence. [There is a garage and then an outhouse on your left.] Follow this (very rutted gravel) road for less than .5 mile, keeping right when the road forks. (If, instead, you go left at the first fork, there is an apparent swimming hole just past the barricade at the end of this short road.) You will come to a dead end at a circular parking area.
Park here and, to find the trail, go up the wooden stairs (yes, stairs!) out of the circular parking area onto a forest road (there is a gate blocking this road.) This is Devil's Fork Trail. Follow it and, after about 0.25 miles, this road crosses the creek [...]"

Right after the creek, there is a yellow-blazed trail that goes left into the woods; follow it. Shortly you'll see a fork, which you'll stay left at. You will come to another creek; follow the blazes along it. It is about 1.5 miles of pretty easy hiking. It's a shame, but it looks like the forestry service has done very little to maintain the trail recently, with the yellow blazes occurring much less frequently than most other trails I've seen, and some of them faded. Just be alert and keep an eye out for the blazes and you will find the tub.

Posted in Photo of the Day, Wildlife.
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The Devil’s Bathtub
The Devil’s Bathtub

Big Ole Snapping Turtle

Posted May 26th, 2007 by Jeff.
I found this guy while taking a walk in Sugar Hollow Park in Bristol, VA.

Posted in Photo of the Day, Wildlife.
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Big Ole Snapping Turtle

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