Thank you for your interest in the annual Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally. Every year the Naturalist Rally Committee assembles a wide variety of excellent field trips with leaders who are experts in their field. Their goal is to make the Mount Rogers area ecology understandable and interesting for everyone, from inquisitive amateurs to accomplished naturalists.
The 2013 Rally will be May 10 & 11. This year's Friday night speaker will be Dr.Karen E. Francl.
From I-81, take exit 35 (Chilhowie), go south on Rt 762, passing Hardee's. Follow this for 3.6 miles to the flashing light at intersection. Keeping straight the road becomes Rt 600, crosses Iron Mountain (disregard "Old 600" signs)and in 7.6 miles turn left at intersection, staying on Rt 600. From here go 2/10 miles and the Konnarock community center is on the left.
Schedule of Events:
Friday, May 10
- 5:00 p.m. - Registration begins - Konnarock Community Center. Fee is $8 for each person 16 or older. PLEASE TRY TO BRING CORRECT CHANGE. This registers you for Friday evening and Saturday field trips (Advanced registration is preferred.)
- 5:30-6:30 p.m. - Chicken dinner prepared and served by the Konnarock Community Club at the center. PREPAID RESERVATIONS FOR DINNER ARE ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Tickets for dinner will be limited to 150, so make sure to reserve early. The cost is $13. (This total fee goes to the community center.)
- 6:45 p.m. - Welcome & introductions of field trip leaders
- 7:30 p.m. - Featured speaker, Dr. Karen E. Francl
Saturday, May 11
- 7:00 a.m. - Continued registration if you missed us on Friday - $8
- 8:00 a.m. - Morning field trips depart the Konnarock community center. We try to carpool as much as possible. Signs will be posted on the building for the field trips, so meet at the one you are interested in.
- 11:30 - Lunch break at the center - $2 hot dog lunch or bring your own
- 1:00 p.m. - Afternoon field trips depart the Konnarock community center.
Saturday Morning (Starting at 8:00 a.m.):
- All-Day Hike to Top of Mount Rogers - Dr. Phil Shelton has led this trip for 25 years. Along the way, he will discuss the flora and fauna of Mount Rogers. Hikers should bring food, water and dress for high-altitude weather. This is a challenging 9 mile round trip hike.
- Birding - Join area birders Eric Harrold and Allen Boynton (BRDC) for a morning bird walk at Grindstone Campground. We will be expecting to find various neotropical migrant songbirds such as Canada Warbler, Veery, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Ovenbird. Bring binoculars and wear comfortable walking shoes. (7:30 am at campground parking lot)
- Fly-Tying Workshop - Virginia Master Naturalist, Ernie Barker, will confuct a basic fly tying course in the community center towards the kitchen area, as a representative of the Mountain Empire Chapter of Trout Unlimited. There is a $5 registration fee to cover the cost of materials for the 4 - 6 flies that will be tied.
- Geocaching - Geocaching is a fun activity that uses GPS technology to locate "hidden" treasure or a special location. Join Link Elmore to learn about how this geospatial technology works, how naturalists can use GPS in their study, and have a bit of fun searching for some special locations. Children (with parents) are welcome to attend and often make some of the best finds!
- Salamanders - Kevin Hamed, Bio professor at VHCC, will lead his popular morning salamander walk. We will explore the Elk Garden Trail sampling at least two different habitat types which have different salamander communities.
- Whitetop Wildflowers - Eleanor Grasselli & Carrie Spark of Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club will co-lead a 2.5 mile stroll past wildflowers near many birds from Whitetop Mountain north on the AT, downhill to Elk Garden. Please bring an extra layer of clothing, rain gear, water, and lunch.
- Mushrooms - Join Rebecca Rader (BRDC) for late season high elevation fungi-foraging and learn what we can look forward to finding this summer. The trail is called Straight Branch, at a parking lot off of Rte. 600, halfway between Chilhowie and the Rally.
- Geology Walk - Arthur Merschat, with the USGS, will offer one of two possible hikes. One hike would be to walk up a jeep trail to the three state corner. The geology woul likely involve a lot of volcani-clastics and some felsic volcanics. Another possible walk might be the Creeper Trail from Green Cove to Taylor's Valley.
- Medicinal and Edible Wild Plants - Join Carolyn Ward, PhD, chief executive officer of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, to look at ways trees and plants have been and still are used by every culture that has inhabited these mountains.
*Special Afternoon Program*
- Draw a small beetle or a vast mountain landscape with artists Suzanne Stryk (suzannestryk.com) and Kyle Buckland (www.bucklandfineart.com). Join these two artists in a roundtable discussion about how to experience the natural world through art, folled by a hands-on sketching trip in the Whitetop area. Bring a small sketchbook and a pencil.
Saturday Afternoon (Starting at 1:00 p.m.):
- Geology - Join Fred Newcomb (BRDC), Earth science & geology teacher at Marion Senior High School, on a one mile hike (Creeper Trail between Chestnut Mountain Road & Grassy Ridge Road). Walk through a remarkable sequence of rocks that spans nearly a billion years of Earth's history and that tells a story of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and the breakup of a supercontinent (not Pangea)!
- Fairwood Valley Cultural History - Join Virginia Master Naturalist Steve Lindenman of the Nature Conservancy for a driving/walking tour of the Fairwood Valley to consider the cultural history of this valley before formation of the National Recreation Area. Stops will include "downtown" Fairwood and the only remaining original structure from this mill town. We will also look at home sites, orchards, and the cemetary.
- Grindstone Wildflowers - Wildflowers along the Whispering Waters Trail. John Kell, Radford University, will lead this walk along the nature trail at Grindstone campground. This area has an abundance of blooms. bring a hand lens and flower guides.
- Native Trees - Join horticulturalist Joel Keebler (professor at Virginia Highlands Community College) for a very easy stroll around the community center exploring trees. Joel wil focus on native species that have landscape value in our altered landscapes.
- Geology of the Virginia Highlands - Once upon a time, our Appalachian Mountains were taller and more rugged than the Rockies. On this hike with Bill Whitlock, geologist with the Virginia DMME, find out what happened to our mountains and why we have the green and gently rounded peaks here the Mount Rogers area.
- Fish Bugs - Aaron Floyd (BRDC) will be sampling aquatic insects at Creek Junction as part of Project Fish Bugs. We will be identifying aquatic insects and drawing correlations between fishing flies and the real things in the creek.
- Kids Activities - Join Mary Alice Hardin for an afternoon kid oriented activity called The Naturally Amazing Race. She will be coordinating with BRDC's larger afternoon program focused on young people...see below.
Roald and Ellie Kirby, with back-up support from Eric Harrold (BRDC) and Scott Jackson-Ricketts (BRDC) will offer kids a variety of options from story-telling, owl pellet dissection, and small field excursions. Ellie Kirby will focus on art with clay and other materials. This afternoon session will be held at the community center.
***All of our field trip leaders volunteer their time for the Naturalist Rally, so let them know you appreciate their sharing their time and knowledge with us.***
The Friends of Mount Rogers will be offering some items for sale that you would find in the visitor centers in the Mount Rogers NRA: T-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, maps, identification books, nature books. Be sure to bring extra money if you'd like to purchase any of these items.
Dinner & Registration
Dinner is by pre-paid reservation ONLY. There will be no dinners sold at the door. Registration for the rally events and dinner is due by May 1, 2013. You can register/pay online here or download and print the registration form and send it to:
253 Little Big Horn Ln
Independence, VA 24348
Please make all checks payable to:
Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally
How to Take a Field Trip
All field trips leave from the parking lot of the Konnarock Community Center unless otherwise indicated or announced on Friday evening. All times listed are actual departure times. Please allow extra time if you still need to register and to sign up with the field trip leader. (Some leaders take sign-ups on Friday evening and some trips fill quickly.) All trips will go out regardless of weather conditions. Come prepared with good boots or shoes, a sweater or jacket, raincoat or poncho.
Two Forest Service campgrounds - Grindstone (VA Route 603) and Beartree (US Route 58) are within 10 miles of Konnarock. To reserve a site, call 1-877-444-6777 or online at www.ReserveUSA.com. There are numerous bed and breakfast inns and rental cabins in the area. Try www.virginiablueridge.org for information. Motels are available in Abingdon, Chilhowie, Glade Spring, Marion, all with places to eat.