Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pines poppin' up!

We noticed some new pine saplings sprouting up on the outskirts of the lake bed! This one is about 2 feet tall. Pines are not particularly common on our trails, and the most predominant conifer is the Eastern Hemlock. The fascicles on this tree had mostly 2 needles each and some with 3. The needles are twisted and greenish-yellow in color, and about 2 1/2 inches long. The twigs had an orange-brown tint to them and were fairly stout. We think it may be table mountain pine or Virginia pine!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How Full is our Lake?

Courtesy of Jeanne Roningen - Jeanne is studying our lake for her masters thesis project at Virginia Tech.  The diagram she created below shows us how full our lake is in terms of volume and area.  Right now our lake is estimated to be between 72-79 feet below full lake (dark red-orange area).

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wintry Ventures

This winter, we are working on re-designing our trail maps and signs for the Mt. Lake trail system.  This past November, we re-blazed all of our trails with colors that will coordinate with the new maps.  Chris Long, former employee of Mountain Lake and Virginia Tech Forestry student, has taken several cartography classes and volunteered to tackle the map project. 

We are working with the "Midweek Trail Crew" to reconstruct all of our trail signs.  We are hoping to get them in the ground this Spring - a total of 57 signs!!  Some of our current signs even have incorrect mileage such as the Indian Trail.  Today we measured the Indian Trail to be 1.4 miles rather than the stated 1.75 miles around the lake.  The hike was quite treacherous but it was great to get out of the office with our handy distance measuring wheel in tow.

The lake is currently frozen and we caught some spectacular views as we navigated the perimeter of the basin.