Tuesday reflection

Tuesday after work. I am
camping with Stephen at Shinleaf,
on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail,
after he has spent much of his day
slowly moving himself and many
surprising (to him) pounds of gear from
Bayleaf Church Road, about
ten miles away. Tomorrow,
he will walk another thirteen to
Rolling View and await pickup
after I finish work. An experiment
in carrying everything you need and living simply.

He is tired and sore, but clearly pleased with
his accomplishment. Yet he’s puzzled to also
feel somewhat disappointed, and I see it
gnawing at him. I let him talk
but don’t say much, allowing him
space to think more and return later.

As for me–I sit outdoors at 8:45 pm
watching the waning sunlight,
an early bedtime whispering the
sweet promise of rest before the
sun rises on Wednesday. And I can
tell you that I feel content
with this ordinary
yet extraordinary
evening.

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FORECO Daily: Sunset Rock

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Another successful Forest Ecosystems of the Southern Appalachians. Here are some stats (now with emojis!): 
Almost 0 inches of rain 😲 🌞
~900ish miles driven 🚌
24 sites visited ⛰️
~50ish miles of hiking and running 
67 species of moths 🦋
900 Table Mountain Pine seedlings post-fire 🔥🌲👍
1 dozen chiggers (Julie Tuttle reports more)
8 awesome students 😀
3 wacky instructors 😜
9 special guests 👍
1 timber rattler 🐍
0 bears 🐻
1 broken arm 😨 
1 busted bus tire 
1900 caddis flies on the Chattooga
6 quarts of ice cream consumed 🍨
Another wonderful Forest Ecosystems ❤️🌲🦎🐝🐌🌻🥀🌳🌾🍁🕸️🦋🍦⛰️🔥🌈🌞

FORECO Daily: Buck Creek

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Because of its unusual geology and serpentine soil with a skewed Ca:Mg ratio, Buck Creek lacks a closed tree canopy and supports an astounding plant community that includes many grasses as well as several locally endemic species–meaning that they’ve been seen nowhere else on Earth.  These plants can tolerate the high levels of heavy metals and the high levels of magnesium in the soil. Prescribed fire by the US Forest Service has helped restore this site and allow the many understory plants to proliferate.