Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Transitioning Thirty Miles On The Snake

After cutting our time in S.C. short due to increasing temperatures we headed for higher ground.  

One wonderfully cool night in Elizabethton, TN, later we made a beautiful 30 mile drive to our next destination via a twisty, turning section of road known as The Snake.

Along the way we stopped to explore Backbone Rock.

Also known as... The World's Shortest Tunnel - it is only about twenty feet long.

We took the stairs up one side

to the top

where we gazed up close at the flowers of the Fraser Magnolia

and looked down upon the road below.

We descended the other side of the arch which brought us down right by the creek

and to the other side of the tunnel.

Down by the creek we spied loads of butterflies and spotted three new ones which was very exciting!

IMG_5768 Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) (1)
The Pipevine Swallowtail

IMG_5768 Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) (2)
Battus philenor

IMG_5768 Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) (3)
The Pipevine Swallowtail has iridescent blue (sometimes greenish) hindwings

IMG_5768c Pipevine swallowtails Battus philenor
that show up brilliantly when the light hits them.

IMG_5786 Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)
This new-to-us Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) made a very brief appearance before flying away.

And, this beautiful creature is a rare - nature made - hybrid called Papilio appalachiensis - The Appalachian Easter Tiger Swallowtail.

The "Appy" as it is known is a cross between the Canadian Tiger and the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

Moving on... Just a couple of miles past our layover at the tunnel, we arrived at our destination of Damascus, VA - elevation (almost) 2000 feet. 

Damascus is a cute little town in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains with a creek (Laurel Creek) running right through it.

Seven nationally known trails (including the AT) intersect in this unassuming town and so it has taken on the alternate moniker of "Trail Town USA".  We are here to enjoy one of the seven trails and it appears that we have managed to arrive just one week ahead of their annual Trail Days celebration which draws over 20,000 hikers.  Thank goodness!  Don't even know if the town could hold that many people.

Choo Choo

We've got a trail to do.  So, we'll see ya down the line!