June 26, 2005
I got motivated to hike to the top of Crawford Mountain yesterday, something I've been planning to do for a long time. With an elevation of 3,760 feet, it is about 700 feet shorter than nearby Elliott Knob, where I hiked almost one year ago. Just as on that hike, I passed through multiple ecological zones as I ascended 1,800 feet (net); I covered seven miles horizontally, round trip. I began at about 8:30 on the Chimney Hollow trail, where I have hiked several times in the past, enjoying cool temperatures in the shade. Along the way up I got video clips of a few birds, including this female Scarlet tanager, carrying an insect to her offspring, nervously waiting for me to get on my way. It got pretty warm as noon approached, and my feet and legs felt the strain. Fortunately, my determination to scale the summit paid off, as a group of five or so Ruffed grouses flushed just as I reached the top. The U.S. Forest Service has a special habitat management program for Ruffed grouses in that area, so perhaps it's working. Along the "saddle" ridge between the peak and Coalpit Knob on my way back down, I was startled to see an adult Black bear about 70 yards in front of me, on the left. It grunted and ran away as soon as it saw me, however, so I couldn't get any pictures. Just as well, I suppose. After making sure there were no baby bears around, I cautiously proceeded, looking back over my shoulder every ten paces or so. Here are the highlights of the avian creatures I saw (in rough chronological order):
In addition, I heard several Black-throated green warblers, a Red-breasted nuthatch (!), a Yellow-billed cuckoo, a Parula, some Pewees, Wood thrushes, and several Veeries (!), plus a hummingbird at the trail head on Route 250. Not a bad day! Quite exhausted, I made it back home in time to see the last three innings of the Fox "game of the week." I've added some scenic photos from that hike to the Virginia, Summer 2005 page.