This event is a tradition for people who love the wildflowers and birds of West Virginia.
Each day starts with a bird walk. On both Friday and Saturday participants have a choice of a dozen field trips to a wide variety of habitats and elevations. Thursday and Friday end with interesting programs.
Come discover why so many “pilgrims” return year after year!
Jan and I, along with other Brooks Bird Club leaders, will be leading early morning bird walks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Thursday late afternoon, Jan will be teaching a Beginning Birding and Beyond workshop at the Blackwater Falls State Park Lodge.
Friday, Jan will lead a tour to the Cranesville Swamp, a National Natural Landmark. It is one of the few remaining boreal bogs in the southern United States, unusual because it harbors many plants and animals that are normally only seen in more northern climates. Eastern hemlock, red spruce and American larch are some of the few trees in this acidic boreal bog. The northern relict wetland complex also supports a wide variety of smaller plants such as goldthread, trailing arbutus, gay wings, several species of sundews, cranberry and a variety of ferns and mosses. Nineteen diverse wetland communities are home to such birds as Blackburnian, magnolia and chestnut-sided warblers, alder flycatcher, golden-crowned kinglet, indigo bunting and northern saw-whet owl.
Friday, I will lead a Dolly Sods Wilderness Hike. The hike begins at the Red Creek Campground on Blackbird Knob Trail. We cross Alder Run, travel across some open and scenic areas, then cross Red Creek just downstream from several active beaver dams, and continue to the north-east side of Blackbird Knob (elev. 3,950) where we will eat lunch. On the return trip, we follow Red Creek downstream to the junction of Alder Run and follow Alder Run Trail to the junction of the Beatty Labyrinth. This part of the hike is mostly open and quite scenic. The hike then follows Alder Run Bog Run upstream through spruce woods and eventually joins the Blackbird Knob Trail near where we began at the Red Creek Campground. This is the most difficult part of the hike since it is at the end of our trip. There are 15 small stream crossings, one long rock field to cross, and is casually uphill most of the time. There will be opportunities for scenic views, wildflower and bird identification, perhaps map and compass use, and experiencing the spectacular beauty of Dolly Sods. Hiking shoes/boots are required; Red Creek may have to be waded if water is high; appropriate rain gear is required. Restroom facilities are available before and after the hike.
Saturday, Jan and I together will lead several shorter hikes, “Special Hikes to Favorite Places on Dolly Sods.” The first hike is a 1.2 mile (round trip) on the Old Growth Trail which begins going through a red spruce woods with mountain laurel/rhododendron borders and ends in an old growth deciduous woods with a variety of high mountain spring wildflowers, interesting birds and giant oak trees. Then we drive a short distance to our second hike: the 2.2 mile (round trip) High Mountain Meadow Trail. This trail leads through a variety of habitats, crosses Alder Run Bog, and continues through a large red pine forest with an extensive undergrowth of ferns, The trail ends at an area of high mountain meadows which we may explore. The last hike, time permitting, is along the Allegheny Front Vista Trail. Hiking 1/4 – 1 mile (round trip) we will enjoy some of the best scenic overlooks in West Virginia. Hiking boots and rain gear are required!
Additional information and registration: https://1djciw2nayur2c2mvt4dir9d-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Pilgrimage.2018.pdf