After two weeks with only one hike, I was finally out hitting the trail! Yesterday the sun was out in a beautiful, brilliant way, cheering all the mountains and me! Today, mostly clouds blued the atmosphere but not my mood. Hiking two days in a row. So much like things should be!
American Chestnut Trees
I’ve been aware of American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) trees being up here on my mountain for some time now. There was even a very large tree up here just two years ago, but that has since died, as they all do, of an orange colored fungus known commonly as “chestnut blight.”
Another Big One
There is another large one, that is still struggling to survive that we in the American Chestnut Foundation, have been using in our cross-back breeding program. This tree is known as The Rosebrook Tree, and despite the onslaught of periodic cicadas this summer, we were able to get a few seeds from this “mother tree” to use in that program.
Yesterday and today — both days — I found American Chestnut trees that I didn’t know were growing up here! Okay, to be truthful, these are small sprouts, which might be called American Chestnut bushes. But still, I am delighted!
I don’t know if it is because the leaves of the chestnut trees are changing into their autumn garb – a coloring that allows me to pick them out more easily than when they wear the same green-blue color of summer that so many leaves like to wear all summer long. Or perhaps it is because the walls of leaves are falling from the trees, allowing me to look deep into the forest. A real treat for me, because I now feel I am actually hiking in the mountains — I can see from one ridge to the next. I can see the blue of the Blue Ridge Mountains!
And Another Big One?
If I keep at it, I’m hoping I’ll discover another big American Chestnut tree up here. Not extremely likely. But I will keep trying!