Monday, March 30, 2009

Whitmore's Bluff: In Progress

I tagged along with the real botanists on Sunday for what I thought would be a two hour climb along the bluffs of the Oosatanuala just north of Rome off Bell's Ferry Road. It turned out to last over twice that long, and I was pretty hungry by the time I got home. But as you can see from the pics, we are blessed to live in an area with an amazing variety of plant life.
Location: Whitmore's Bluff, on the Oosatanaula north of Rome GA

About ten of us gathered at Richard Ware's house to carpool to the site.

When the "let's go" signal was given I stupidly took it seriously and got in the Jeep. My three fellow passengers were waylayed by some little forb eking out an existence in Richard's drive.

Three carloads dismounted along Bell's Ferry Road and started our hike.

After a steady uphill scramble around multiple downed trees along an old jeep trail we reached the breezy summit where the slope in front of us was covered with these purple wonders.

We turned up the ridge and soon encountered this Squaw Root pushing through the leaf litter. It was very breezy and unseasonably cold.

The view off the bluff is magnificent, but the botanists are more interested in the little white flowers they can't reach, that are gowing on the rock ledges below. They are inches from the abyss.

Across the Oostanaula valley is my own Lavender Mountain.

On the rock ledge at my feet are the flat discs that are the seeds of a slippery elm...

...that grows from the slope below the rocky face of the bluff to present its greenery to us above.

We find more patches of the little white sprays of flowers in more accessible spots and ascertain its genus and species after some discussion.

This picture gives a good idea of the terrain - very steep, when not actually vertical.

Looking up the cliff more columbine, sedum, ferns, and moss.

The botanists spend a good deal of time examining and discussing the phacelia found here. It has smaller fowers and variegated foliage, which convinces some of the guys that it is a less common species.

Now I pass some slightly more accessable columbine, one of my favorites, putting up its bright little flames here and there.

Finally I find one burning right in my face as I round its rock.

As we near the river a colony of these diminuative trillium cause a stir among the botanists. Some had not seen it in the wild before.

And then the pachysandra that Richard had been hoping would be in bloom, formed a carpet.

One of my favorites deserves a more picturesque name, chickweed.

The Armuchee ridges are known for their caves. Here is the opening to one of several caves in the bluffs.

One final excitement came when one of the guys spotted several tiny Adder's Tongues -- actually a fern.

If you want to see more pictures from the walk visit my Facebook album:

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