Sunday, February 26, 2012

Quest for Shortia (Part 2): Not it!

I don't expect to find Shortia (Oconee Bells) this weekend, but that wasn't going to stop me from looking.  It's too early for them to be in bloom, but I could still hunt for their characteristic leaves.  I decided to do a solo, overnight, out-and back backpacking trip along the Foothills Trail from Burrells Ford Road to Whitewater Falls where I wasn't as likely to find them.  That way I could save more promising sections for later in the spring, and still check this section off my to-do list. 

At home, I etched the image of the Oconee Bell leaf in my brain, especially in comparison to galax.  I memorized features of its habitat and the list of plants it's likely to be found with (rhododendron, hemlock, near streams on north facing slopes).  I knew I was finally reaching the point of being totally obsessed when I started dreaming of Oconee Bell leaves.

While hiking, I honed my search image.  I practiced recognizing and distinguishing any evergreen plants with roundish leaves, so my brain learned what was NOT Oconee Bell. 

Heartleaf- NOT it!

Even though I didn't find the Oconee Bell, the trip was a special because I got a clear view of the moon, Venus, and Jupiter all in a together in the sky

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