Sunday, June 8, 2008

Panthertown Valley...another place I've got to come back to!

We went to Panthertown Valley, not in search of Shortia, but because of its reputed botanical treasures. We were not disappointed. I guess its a debatable question as to whether the plants are as cool as the topography, but if you even get into that situation, you know you're in a good place! Panthertown is a large (<6,000 acre) relatively flat upland valley. The valley floor is 3500+' above sea level and the mountains and cliffs rise above 400". The vegetation here was clearly behind that 200" lower down. There are a number of exposed granite domes, sparsely vegetated that give the area an open look with vistas and views abounding. The cliff faces rise 200-300 feet vertically from the valley floor.

With only a few hours we covered a good deal of territory seeing several bog communities, numerous Rododendron calendulacem, Robinia hispida, Calycanthus, Chimophila, Leucothoes, Vacciniums, Houstonia serpyllifolia, and so many more, The cherry on the sundae was a 150' long drift of Pink Lady's Slipper, Cypripedium acaule. We were tired, but we estimated more than 400 flowers. There are a number of waterfalls on the Tuckasegee River. We saw one (pictured to the right somewhere), then walked through tunnels of Rhododendron and Clethra acuminata, with its wonderful exfoliating bark, to the base of the escarpment. (at least Jeanna did)

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