Footloose at FloydFest12: Nature Hikes

FloydFest Nature Hike

First the bad news: FloydFest 12 is sold out. The good news is that you’ve got your tickets. Right?

I don’t think I had any Fragments readers on my several hikes at FloydFest last year, but you never know, so I thought I’d let you consider putting that on your list for things to do-see-hear this year.

Frankly, I have pretty low threshold for crowds, noise and heat–which is pretty much a description of the biggest event on the Blue Ridge Parkway called FloydFest. Of course for the price of a ticket and the suffering (or enjoyment) of these ambient conditions, you do get a massive dose of people watching and a wide and constant spectrum of high-decibel music. It is, indeed, a happening.

So this year, I opted to lead just one hike–on Saturday the 27th–at 1030a departure. It begins at the Outdoor Adventure Tent (click to enlarge), whose peripheral location you can see on the map. (There will be, I think, a total of four hikes. Sorry I cannot send you to that information online.

It promises to be warm, maybe wet. Wear the right clothes, bring water and sunscreen.

The trail traverses the festival site to its eastern edge, crosses a broken-down boundary fence, and rambles through the rambling rose, greenbrier, and blowdown from an ice storm of some years ago (a great example of disturbed habitat with all its alien colonizers). The trail then moves up out of the gap onto the flanks of an extensive meadow grazed by cattle (which helps keep it from returning to forest).

While it is not a great time of year for wildflowers and not the most rich and diverse of locations to typify Appalachian summer botany, I think the 50 or so folks who joined me last year felt it was worthwhile.

I can wax eloquent for 45 minutes about the biology of a mud puddle, expound for an hour about the wonder of a lichen covered boulder. Everything is interesting if you hold your eyes and your brain-heart-soul just right.

See you there.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. OK, Fred, I hope you save your 45 minute eloquence for your writings, and don’t torture your group with standing in the sun and humidity listening that long!! You’ll keep attendees away in droves!
    Kidding aside, I hope your hike is a good one this year.

  2. I made my trip to the mountains already this year (always predicated on my other half’s schedule), so FloydFests siren song falls upon deaf ears. Though truth be told I would love to crash your nature course.

    In reality though, Mount Rogers seems a much more interesting venue…Especially when it comes to the time of the year.

  3. I hope you have fewer people who ask, “what is it for?” this year … looking forward to reading about your adventures.

  4. Fred: I might join you on that hike. The graphic and your description appears to indicate that the hike won’t go to the very bottom of Rock Castle Gorge — which is actually one of my favorite places on earth. However, during one FloydFest I hiked the bottom of Rock Castle Gorge by myself and crossed paths with a black bear. Fortunately, we both wanted to avoid each other. I suspect the bear wanted to get away from the music and crowds. 🙂