Monday, December 10, 2007

Evening mist

This is one of my favorite stretches of road in Unicoi County, TN. Everything changes dramatically the moment you leave Erwin on Rock Creek Road. You round a curve and suddenly enter a dense forest with enormous, towering hemlocks. At once the scale of everything changes. The sentinels lining your way spread their canopy far above. The air becomes moist and cool -- and the smells remind you why you ought to come to places like this more often to experience the grandeur of nature.

With the spread of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, a tiny insect threatening all Eastern and Carolina Hemlocks in the eastern US, I fear what will become of these woods. Scientists and forestry officials from Maine to Georgia are working to find a solution. Chances are, if you live in this area and have hemlock trees on your property, they too are infested. The telltale sign of infestation are the tufts of white wool it leaves between the needles.

Directions: From I-26 take the Erwin Main Street Exit (#36), at the end of the ramp turn east toward town and you will immediately arrive at a stop light. Turn right onto Rt. 107 and drive 1/2 mile, turn left at stop light onto Rock Creek Road (Rt. 395) -- continue on for 3.1 miles, turn left at entrance to Rock Creek Park.

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