Lynn Cameron led a (slightly damp) walk on two Augusta County trails in the George Washington National Forest for my first day of field trips with Virginia Native Plant Society. Tom Wieboldt, Curator of Vascular Plants at Virginia Tech’s Massey Herbarium (and descendant of William A. Wieboldt), assisted with many of the IDs, including this goldenrod, Solidago curtisii. Eastern Hemlocks in this area seem to be doing OK; Lynn says the Forest Service is applying a treatment against insect pests.
Our destination on the first walk was this striking view of Hone Quarry Ridge, with Shenanadoah Mountain in the distance. A bouncy drive on Forest Service roads then took us to a driving top atop Reddish Knob, which was (as expected) fogged in.
We then pushed on to a second short walk in the headwaters of North River, a tributary of the Shenandoah. The group turned up this brightly-colored guy, an adult Red-Spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) in its terrestrial red eft form.
Bonus bird for the trip: Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus), sauntering along the fire road as we drove for home.