Wednesday, May 6, 2015

New River Trail (5/5/2015)

I have been on parts of the New River Trail for the past two years.  I have biked it three times in the summer (pre-blog) and walked parts of it in the late fall, winter, and in early and late spring.  It is such a pleasure being there and it really sweetens my visit to this part of the state.  But what I want to do today is continue the discussion I had on my blog the time before.

While the Dolly Sods were evidence of human influence on nature it maintained a absolute beauty.  The New River Trail area is not that different; it is an old abandoned railroad bed that runs through a gorgeous area.  The New River was altered by a dam and I am sure the country side was wooded.  But still, even now it is beautiful out there.

The railroad was built in the 1800s to transport iron ore from the Galax area to Pulaski where the smelter was.  Pulaski was situated between the coal supply and the ore.  The problem was that the coal had a high sulfur content with the result that the smelters also produced sulfuric acid.  The acid was exported, but it also contaminated a large area in Pulaski.  All together again a sign of man's fooling with the environment without really knowing what the consequences would be.  

Some of the blooming plants on the trail are introduced from other parts of the world and are considered invasive; humans with good intentions imported many of these plants to prevent soil erosion, doing things they did not know the consequences of.  In all these cases it was too late to reverse the process once we found out that there was major issues.  We are still doing the same things; whether it is global warming or as I learned today from the news fracking which now seems to be contaminating our drinking water.  When we notice it, it's often too late to reverse it. 

Even if you ignore the obvious signs of human use of the area like this:

the trail and its surroundings are absolutely delightful.   Below is a native plant that was blooming.

Native choke cherry 

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