Abingdon 2022: 3

On my dilatory way home, I swung south into Ashe County, North Carolina and a visit to Bluff Mountain Preserve. Bluff Mountain is but one of the ridgelines protected by the Nature Conservancy in this area. According to my guide Susan, the mountain offers a rare high-elevation mafic bedrock, with an endemic reindeer lichen species on the outcrops. In addition, ten acres of wetland comprise a fen; there’s an Eastern Hemlock woods; and a rather nice meadow. The New River provides drainage, so I had crossed back from the Tennessee River basin to the Ohio.

maficWe spent just a quarter of an hour or so at the fen, but I zeroed in on something unusual that turned out to be Sticky False Asphodel (Triantha glutinosa), a species of conservation concern. Nearby, Susan pointed out Canada Burnet (Sanguisorba canadensis) and Smooth Yellow False Foxglove (Aureolaria flava). We found lots of interesting mushrooms popping up along the trail (it had rained recently), but with only three hours up on top of the mountain, we didn’t have much time to dawdle.

Logistics for this tour were a little unsettled until the day, and there was more climbing from the parking lot than we had planned on, but it was a good hike. Next time I’ll wave my “I’m a donor” flag more loudly; we crossed paths with a donors’ tour on our way up the mountain.