Of course we found more Shortia around the Lower Bearwallow Falls, and the Falls itself was spectacular, but really to me, the coolest thing was the "spray community", those plants and animals that are constantly wet by the splash and mist from the waterfalls. And I just like liverworts.
Gorges State Park Superintendent, Steve Pagano, did meet us Wednesday morning; we went in on roads that are either under construction or waiting to be decommissioned from public use. The Caravan would not have cut it. We parked on the top of a ridge and "walked" down to the falls. Jeanna climbs a lot, at least once a week; she claims that that was the steepest slope she has ever dealt with without ropes. Hey, I'm just glad I didn't fall down the hill. I'm sure the people below me are happy too. It was worth it though; the falls is beautiful, the Shortia was nice and it was bryophyte heaven.
There is spectacular downloadable information available from a web sit of the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources. Relevant to this particular site is Classification of the Natural Communities of North Carolina Third Approximation 1990, (Michael P. Schafale and Alan S. Weakley).The whole book is fascinating, but the section on spray cliffs beginning on 187 is to the point. As at so many other places on this trip, it would have been nice to have had a week where we had half a day, but we did achieve our goals and collected a few very nice ancillary species. I think I may be able to do some tentative identification from photos and memory (yes I do take both with a grain of salt, particularly the latter), but that's all I'be got! At the top of the ridge we got some seeds of Hieraceum venosum, a xeric plant just for contrast! I do love hawkweeds, and everybody likes this one.