May 22, 2008 – Volcanic Rocks Hike

How about this for a view:
We met at the overlook above for a guided ranger hike about the rocks and volcanoes in the Park by Ranger Beth. The hike was 2 miles on the Appalachian Trail with stops at various rock formations..

Did you know that the Appalachians are the oldest mountain range in the world and that at one time they were higher than the Himalayans?? (I may have but forgot!)

We learned about the three types of rock and saw examples of each. The ones that were interesting to me were the columnar formations (actually more like hexagons). They are a geologic phenomenon caused by the rapid cooling of molten lava. As cooling continued, vertical fissures and cracks penetrated deeper, creating large columns of rock with four to eight sides.

The columns:

The view from the top:

This area is where they think the actual volcano was based on the veins in the rock:

These little brown things are known as rock tripe (not sure of the spelling):

Ranger Beth poured water on them and they turned green. (Cool!) She explained that they are a good indicator of air quality also. If the air is not the best, they will die.

And we learned a little ditty: “Alice Algae met Freddy Fungus and they took a Lichen to each other but their marriage has been on the rocks ever since.” (No further explanation from me.)

There has been a lot of rain here and we came across many small waterfalls:

One last interesting picture:

On almost all the ranger talks/programs we have been on last year and this year, we heard about the history of the park and the dilemma they faced in the 30’s. Much of this land was owned by families. They dilemma was setting up an area for all to enjoy and protecting it but on the other hand many families were bought out or evicted. What I found interesting is that the rangers state the facts but do not say what is right or wrong just that it was a dilemma. The cemeteries are the only land parcels that still belong to the families or churches and will remain so.

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