Rocky Gap

September 2020 Rocky Gap State Park: Central Appalachian Fall Flowers, Ferns, and Fungi

September 26, 2020, I hiked the Rocky Gap State Park (ten miles east of my boyhood home in Cumberland, Maryland) Summit Trail, trekking from Lake Habeeb (1,150 feet elevation) to the summit of Evitts Mountain (2,296 feet) and return. See my earlier Post highlighting the forests and tree species I encountered and reflecting upon the […]

A Tough Hike and Deep Reward at Rocky Gap State Park in Western Maryland

I grew up in Cumberland, MD, nearly 150 miles west of the Baltimore/DC area. Located along the Potomac River deep in the Central Appalachians, Cumberland served as a transportation hub (roads; rails, and canal) and industrial center for many decades.   I issued a Post in November 2019 after returning to Cumberland for my 50th […]

Jolly B

Mid-Summer Life-Flourish along a Wheeler NWR Gravel Road

August 18, 2020, Alabama State Parks Naturalist Emeritus Mike Ezell and I focused our Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge explorations interior to the Blackwell Swamp loop road on the Refuge’s eastern extension. See two previous Posts from our wanderings in both a pine terrace forest ( and through a bottomland hardwood ecosystem ( Even as our […]

Cathedral Caverns

Wonder Below Ground: Cathedral Caverns State Park

July 10, 2020, Judy and I took our two Alabama grandsons (Jack, 12, and Sam, 6) to Cathedral Caverns State Park. No hiking the forest trails for this State Park visit. There are trails there that I’ll save for a subsequent trip.   I won’t devote a lot of text to this Post. The Caverns […]

Monte Sano SP

Four-Year Tornado Forest Recovery at Monte Sano State Park

November 29, 2016, a weak tornado (EF-0; winds 40-72 mph or EF-1; 73-112 mph) touched down briefly at the northern bluff-edge of Monte Sano State Park’s North Plateau Trail. I hiked the trail circuit August 27, 2020 to assess forest healing and recovery after nearly four full growing seasons since the November storm. I include […]

Jolly B

Hardwood Forest on Seasonally Flooded Lowlands along Lake Wheeler on the WNW Refuge

August 18, 2020 Alabama State Parks Naturalist Emeritus Mike Ezell and I drove the Blackwell Swamp Loop Road at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. We occasionally parked, spending hours on foot exploring a vibrant bottomland hardwood forest within the loop road on lowlands seasonally flooded. Earlier that morning we spent a like amount of time in […]

Jolly B

Pine Forest on a Rich Terrace above Lake Wheeler on the WNW Refuge

We’re now into the second week of September. Continuing to enjoy our early morning walks, Judy and I are aware that dawn now breaks as we complete our circuit. And we’ve noticed near silence from our avian friends who chattered and clamored in greeting spring and early summer dawns. I’m reminded of Aldo Leopold’s observation […]

Jolly B

An Aging Tennessee River Riparian Forest

August 8, 2020 I bushwhacked (Webster definition: to travel by foot through uncleared terrain) through a Tennessee River riparian forest on the eastern end of Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge north of the river in Limestone County Alabama. I restricted my wanderings to off-trail, insisting that my ramblings keep me within the closed-canopy forest. I wanted […]

Joe Wheeler

Multi-Use Trail at Joe Wheeler State Park

Bear with me as I repeat some of the introductory paragraph from my August 12, 2020 Post about Nature reclaiming an 80-year-abandoned recreation area on the Joe Wheeler State Park bluffs above Wilson Lake on the Tennessee River: July 7, 2020, Alabama State Parks Naturalist Emeritus Mike Ezell and I hiked the Park’s 2.5-mile […]

Jolly B Road

August Riparian Forest Roaming at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

August 1, 2020 I invested more than three hours bushwhacking (hiking off-trail) through the upland riparian forests along the Tennessee River on the east end of Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. I admit that my hunger for golden chanterelles served as incentive to challenge mosquitoes, deer flies, horse flies, ticks, chiggers, briers, poison ivy, draped spider […]

Joe Wheeler

Long-Abandoned Recreation Area at Joe Wheeler State Park

Straddling Twin TVA Lakes: Joe Wheeler and Wilson Alabama’s Joe Wheeler State Park has shoreline along both the lower reaches of Joe Wheeler Lake and the upper end of Wilson Lake. July 7, 2020, Alabama State Parks Naturalist Emeritus Mike Ezell and I hiked the Park’s Multi-Use Trail along the bluffs above Wilson Lake. I […]

Joe Wheeler

State Champion Trees at Joe Wheeler State Park

A personal confession. I am a nemophilist: One who is fond of forests or forest scenery; a haunter of the woods. I did not know the word until recently. Shortly after seeing the term and definition on a very attractive poster with a sylvan scene, I heard a newscaster with respect to some impending catastrophe say, “We’re not […]