Tuesday, April 5, 2016

White Oak Sinks for April Fools Day

 Close up of Redbud blooms 


White Oak Sinks on April Fool's Day


Dana Koogler solo 

Hiked 4 miles RT approx. 

Here is a link to a printable map and directions to White Oak Sinks

White Oak Sinks Map and Directions


     I'd been taking a break from Facebook. I had visited family in Virginia. I had cleaned the house. I had finished up numerous projects and cleared my desk. I had worked on finishing some of my CMEs.  I had planted flowers for Spring and filled bird feeders.  I had been playing piano daily and had learned six or seven new songs.  I was on Nanny duty and had to get Michael to school and back home, but I needed to get out and hike.  It would have to be somewhere close to home.  I decided White Oak Sinks would be a good one.  Today was the first day it was to be open after the seasonal closure for white nose syndrome in the bat population.
I had not been last year so I was looking forward to it.    I dropped Michael off at the elementary school and headed out to hike.  

          It is often hard to get a parking spot at the Schoolhouse Gap Trail head  if you don't 
get there early. I was only the second vehicle in the lot today.  I backed in carefully to avoid 
getting blocked by horse trailers and other cars.  I got out and a fellow hiker was just leaving.
He spoke to me and asked me was I going hiking to White Oak Sinks to see wildflowers?
I said yes. He told me not to waste my time because he never took the first photo today. 
He said it was too early for the bloom, and he was disappointed.  I told him I was going anyway.
I had no backup plan. I'd just have to make the best of it.  Later on my hike I felt sorry for him.



 Schoolhouse Gap Trail is a pretty, easy trail.  I always like it.
 First catesby's trillium of the season.  You have to look for them! 
Long spurred violets growing on the rocks. Again........ look closer but there are things there to see which are pretty.

 
      The morning was clear, sunny, and cool. The air smelled fresh from last nights shower of rain.
The trail was easy. I saw no one to start out my hike.  The trail was in good condition.  I was happy as a clam.  The breeze ruffled the forest around me gently.  I drew nearer to Dosey Gap I thought of Mike Maples telling me there is a manway there that goes to thus and such a place.  Its funny how I carry my buddies with me in my head and my heart that way.

 I saw some trailing arbutus along the trail growing on the bank.
 I saw lungwort lichen growing on the side of this pine tree.  It's binomial is Lobaria pulmonaria.

It is an epiphyte meaning it lives hanging on the side of trees. Like bromeliads and some orchid species. It is also a symbiote. Two  or more organisms which form one and each helps the other.  It is a fungus, an algae, and a bacteria all mixed together.  

   Before long I came to the intersection with Turkey Pen Ridge Trail and just beyond that is the stile
to keep horses out.  I turned left here and began my hike down into the sinks.
 The manway into White Oak Sinks is always pretty. Lots of trees have died since many of them were hemlocks.  It is still pretty though.
 Not much blooming down in this area, but I did see quite a few yellow violets.

        The sky looks pretty and blue. The red maple buds were thick today. 


 Spring beauties were out in large numbers today.
The trail continues winding up the slope and not long after this spot begins a descent into the sinks.  


 The morning sunshine on the trail in the woods looks pretty enough for me.
 This patch of green is the spread of a human introduced ornamental .. periwinkle vine.  It is invasive.
The crumpled dollar bill look of puttyroot orchid leaf. Rignt now all you'll see is the leaf. 
May is the season they bloom and by then the leaf will be gone. These are fleshy colored orchids and the sort which are hard to spot because they are not bold appearing.  Remember where you saw the leaves to give you a better chance of finding them in May!


 Redbuds bloomed down the trail into the sinks.
 The light here as you descend always pleases my eyes. Something about this reminds me of a Currier & Ives scene.
Ferns and their fiddleheads unfurling along the path are very graceful today.   I love to see the new growth in Spring and watch things come back to life again. 



Down here you start to see the bowl shaped depressions that give White Oak sinks the name.


 The path to the waterfall cave is closed. They are keeping folks out to protect the bats. They have found White nose syndrome in the bats here and are trying to help them get well.
 Warning and info about the bats. I also saw motion sensor video cameras set up to catch people trying to enter the area.
The path thru the bottom of the sinks is pretty.


 While there are not alot of phlox or other flowers blooming the bottoms are still greening up and it looks good to me. Green is my favorite color.
 One benefit of coming down here early? I had never found Dutchmans britches blooming here before!
 Trout lilies galore today! They are early bloomers.
 Closeup of trout lily bloom.
The photo doesn't show it very well, but the trout lily pictured is very large!  It is growing on a steep slope below the Abraham Law grave.  I loved how the sunshine looked here.


The rocks here usually are laden with flowers and will be again in a few weeks. 


 Shooting stars just opening.
 Blue phlox .. Some blooming, but about 2 weeks from peak. I could still get a whiff of its perfume though!
The bluffs where above them.. is Scott Mtn Trail far above.  You can barely make out the blow hole cave at the base of the bluff.



I cannot look at a grapevine anymore without thinking of that foolish Dewey Slusher.  :-) 
Bless his heart. 


 Dry wash at the far side of the sink.
Saw a few yellow trilliums getting started their bloom season.

      I sat down and ate a cup of yogurt for lunch after I was done wandering around seeing flowers.    It was already 12:30 so I decided I'd best head out.   I had only taken a few steps and begun to round the bend when I met my first hiker of the day. He laughed and said "Oh good,an expert.. I'm a newb I have never been here before."  I went over and shook his hand and we made our introductions.  He had a map but I told him I'd stick around a few minutes to get him oriented.  I had just met my new friend Joe Horton Jr.   We kept talking and talking. We had a lot in common. He is a very fun and interesting person to converse with.  
He looked at me and said "Hey, you wouldn't be Cumberland Gal would ya?"  to which I responded with denial that I did not even know who that was.  Then I got tickled and started laughing.  He told me I was too her and we had a good chuckle over that.  

  I had not counted on meeting anyone or making a friend today, but it was a very nice blessing.
I am glad I did not listen to that fellow at the start of my day.  Sometimes it pays to be me! 
I like having my own approach to things and being able to take the party with me where I go!
I had a beautiful hike today and met someone nice.

         I finally made myself get going, but Joe and I traded contact info to keep in touch.
We are already emailing and discussing other hikes we can do together.   On my way out I began to encounter a few persons.   I probably saw a ten people on the way out.  Some stopped me to ask questions about where they were going etc.   I stopped just before the stile at the intersection with Schoolhouse Gap Trail.  I was getting my breath and a sip of water.
I watched a man and he watched me.  I grew nearer to this group it was a family of six.
Mom, Dad, baby in a stroller, and three older sons.  They had hiked Schoolhouse Gap Trail.
The one son indicated they were considering heading down the manway to White Oak Sinks.
I told them if they planned to do it they'd have to figure some other way to tote that baby.
They were going to try to lift it over the stile and go down in there.  I told them what the trail conditions were , and that it was nothing like what they'd just done.  I wished them luck and told them to go for it.  The mother gave me a dirty look. I am sure she saw the evil gleam in my eyes. I was enjoying this way too much and it was all over my face.  I wanted to get a bowl of popcorn and watch to see if they could do it.  I wanted to see the struggle of trying to push that stroller down the narrow dirt track with muddy spots, bridges made of mud and twigs, limbs. I wanted to see how they dealt with downed trees and laps of hemlocks.  

           I can't help it if they are dumb! I didn't make them that way!  
Call me Frau Schadenfreude.  
Send in zee fembots!


    I made it home in time for a shower and a cup of coffee before having to leave to pick up Michael from first grade.   What a very good day! 

I edited this to add the diagram I found on the internet of a thrust system. Whoever did this did a beautiful job.  White Oak Sinks is a thrust system and a 'fenster" or geologic window. 
This is the first diagram that has really helped me understand the processes at work. 

The nappe is the thrust sheet. The klippe is an isolated block of the thrust sheet. 

autochton means rock that was formed where it is found.  Allochton means rock or material that was formed elsewhere and moved to a new location. 

The window/fenster shown is the bowl depression that represents WOS.  

In a thrust system older rock overlies younger rock. Usually when you look down thru the layers of rock the deeper you go the OLDER the rock is.  

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