NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Just a Few Minutes on the Alum Cave Trail

First off, has anyone else been getting "delivery failure" notifications when they post comments on other blogs?  This happens to me almost every single time, my email inbox is full of them even though I see the comment post on their blog.  (Unless they have comment moderation, and then I have no idea because I don't go back to check)  I noticed Sharon had commented on my last post but when I went to my email inbox to reply to the comments hers wasn't on the list.  I used to check the comments on the blog page itself a lot, but haven't done that much lately since I got my smartphone it is so quick and easy to read the comments "on the go" throughout the day.  I might have to go back and double check how many comments I've missed.

Rhododendren lined Alum Cave Trail

After we left Forney Ridge Trail on Friday we stopped just down the mountain for a short look at Alum Cave Trail.  They had no line at the vault toilet, unlike the line at least 10 deep at Clingman's Dome, and Wayne dropped me off at the trailhead last year when I hiked it alone so he hadn't seen any of it yet.

look closely at those stones around the park for thin layers of crustose lichen!

On the trail I re-acquainted myself with beautiful Alum Cave Creek and the rhododendren thickets
and towering Yellow Birch that greeted us.

I was quick to spot this unusual lichen because it's on my "gotta-find-it" list!  Lobaria pulmonaria is not very common in North America.  When looking for it remember that if it's on the dry side it may have a brown appearance and its underside is a whitish color which was easy for me to ascertain because it is loosely attached and I flipped it up to have a look.  It prefers growing on old growth oak, beech and maple.

foliose lichen - not a leaf!

I loved this specimen that was lying on the ground.

But the neatest find on our short walk was two fungal oddities on the same rotting log.

Lycogala epidendrum, also called wolf's milk, is actually a slime mold and not a fungus.  Mature specimens will turn gray or brown and emit a pink "goo" if punctured.  We saw some like that in Cade's Cove today.

Lycogala epidendrum

The second one is a Toothed Jelly Fungus (Pseudohydnum gelatinosum).  The underside has "teeth" and it is usually tongue, spoon or fan shaped.  How cool is that?

We're planning to go back on Monday and give this trail our full attention once the weekend crowds have departed.  The fall color reports say that due to the abnormally warm temperatures the area is experiencing we'll have to continue doing higher elevation hikes if we want to see fall color.  I'm making a list.....

In the meantime, not all will be fungi and lichens up here, I swear!  We're even talking about taking a horseback ride and maybe even going to NOC in Bryson City for some ziplining.  Today we did a lot of walking around Cade's Cove and tomorrow I'm thinking we'll try the Cucumber Gap Loop Trail or maybe Meigs Trail behind The Sinks.

Anyone know which zipline operators or horseback riding stables to recommend?


  1. Say one thing you spot a lot of things I would miss

    1. Busy eyes, and very tired eyes these days too. Getting older isn't for sissies, no line bifocals only help so much, the eyestrain is out of control when I use my camera a lot.

    2. Busy eyes, and very tired eyes these days too. Getting older isn't for sissies, no line bifocals only help so much, the eyestrain is out of control when I use my camera a lot.

  2. Haven't had a commenting problems. My problem is for the last two days the New Post composing page page looks as if I am using Windows XP 1.0. It is larger font and not as sharp. You sure do have a wide array of fungi there, much more variety than I do out west here.

  3. I am learning so much from your trails. I love the fungi!! That Wolf Milk and Tongue are beyond cool. I have to keep my eyes open. I don't think I will find much out here now that it is dry. But the next moist hike I'll be on the look out!!

  4. My daughter is headed down there in 2 weeks. I'm so jealous. Can't wait t see what else you do.

  5. The email thing has something to do with DMARC and will affect anyone with a yahoo, hotmail, gmail or AOL address. The best I can tell right now (after much reading) it that the only way to avoid it completely is have an email address not using any of the above servers. I also read that some were beginning to "relax" those standards (set back in April) and some emails were beginning to get through. I have proven that with emails directly to you as they seem to be getting through now although obviously my comments on your blog aren't. Hope that helps. On a more pleasant note, hope you are planning strategies for us starting Wednesday! LOL!