In the Mountains of Western North Carolina

A few photos from a recent trip to the mountains of western North Carolina, delivered in a few parts (Edited to add: Only part 1 is posted right now — the others will be posted soon!).

Day 1 featured a scenic drive across North Carolina, beginning in the rolling foothills of the piedmont and eventually climbing up above the cloud line into the mountains (via the Blue Ridge Parkway).

Taking the long and winding road up into the mountains afforded some majestic views, including this one of a rainstorm  sweeping over Laurel Knob:

A few hours into the drive, we stopped to take lunch at a forested overlook – and ended up finding an unbelievable variety of mushrooms growing among the trees, grass and moss. Naturally, we spent about an hour collecting and IDing specimens we found:


Brian getting down to business

We found:

  • Old man of the woods
  • Black trumpets
  • Chantrelles – mushrooms with a characteristic funnel-shape
  • Waxy caps – little mushrooms with a waxy, slippery cap
  • Milk caps – mushrooms that produce a milk fluid when snapped
  • Coral fungi – fingerlike mushrooms, resembles coral
  • Bolete mushrooms – with the spongy underside (rather than gills)

After that, it was onward to a distant mountain — one that featured a north face of dark balsam firs and a wide, hilly top covered in grass and laurel… Black Balsam.

We arrived at the foot of the mountain dusk and pretty much scuttled up the trail as fast as we could before night fell.

It was dark and starry by the time we reached the grassy top. By the time we got there, the cloudcover had broken up to reveal a glittering stretch of Milky Way reaching across a wide blanket of stars. As we cooked our meal on the camp stove (shepherd’s pie with black trumpet mushrooms sauteed in butter),  nature put on an impressive lightning show in the distance… Best meal ever.

I couldn’t see much of what was underfoot other than what my headlamp showed me. I couldn’t wait to see what it looked like in the morning.

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