West Virginia Weekend Trip

Jefferson

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2012
Messages
180
Reaction score
12
Points
18
Location
Southwest Missouri
Country
United States
At the start, let me say you can also view the youtube video to go along with this post (and some of my other older videos) at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7yOTq5_QlOEMfdL3g1JQ8Q.

Anyway, this Saturday, Bethany and I decided to take a little jaunt northwest from the Shenandoah Valley and spend some time high in the spruce and northern deciduous trees of the Alleghenies in West Virginia. Bethany had never seen a few of the most common species in the Eastern WV mountains, like Allegheny Mountain duskies and Valley and Ridge, nor had she seen the rare, endemic Cheat Mountain Salamander, which I needed a better picture of anyway. So it was that we got rolling around lunchtime under partly cloudy skies toward Staunton, where we'd start heading west after bypassing the city on the Woodrow Wilson Parkway (which I jokingly call "The worst president ever parkway"). Headed west into the Virginia portion of the Alleghenies, the western skies darkened with building rain clouds, though not severe, and the gently rolling land and comely foothills of the Valley gave way to steep, piney, rocky, imposing knife-edged mountains that enveloped valleys of dairy farms and grazing land. The temperature dropped as our elevation gained, and mountain laurels and the smell of rushing mountain waters graced our crossing into the Mountaineer state, where the mountains got even closer, craggier, shorter but steeper, and all-encompassing.


Our first spot in the high mountains, flanked by rhododendron, beech, maple, and various conifers, as I predicted to Bethany before we got out of the car, yielded an Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander within five yards of trail, though we lost the caramel-striped critter in the leaf litter. Higher up the mountain, we had no shortage of duskies young and old to photograph, from a reddish-tan striped one to a very old melanistic individual that had lost nearly all coloration. But duskies weren't our main target on this moss-covered, spruce and fly-infested mountaintop. No, that creature was found not fifteen minutes after we filmed some duskies and set them back. Under a narrow spruce log nearly sewn into the bright green moss, at first I found nothing, but at the very end of where the log had been, something black and gold-speckled caught my eye, something Plethodon-shaped. Cheat Mountain Salamander!!! We were elated, and pictured the videotaped the salamander as if it were a Democratic presidential candidate embroiled in scandal and we reporters from Fox News.

After getting our fill of this unique Appalachian endemic, we set him and the log back where found and drove down off the mountain back toward the Virginia line. We stopped at a beautiful mountain river on the way back before crossing into Virginia, ostensibly to look for Hellbenders, but also because it just felt good to wade in a picturesque stream with the hills all around us, looking at orange and blue crayfish and darters and feeling the frigid water around our calves. After again crossing the border on the 15mph curves into Virginia, we stopped at a Civil war battlefield, the Battle of McDowell in Highland County, Virginia, to see some historical sites. There, Confederates delayed the Union seizure of the Shenandoah Valley, the South's main breadbasket, by turning back the advance of Ohio and West Virginia units (W.Va split off from "Old Virginny" because as a mountain region with very few slaves, it saw little reason to fight for the South and leave the Union). Among the troops who marched through that section of Virginia in the campaign to take the Shenandoah Valley at places like McDowell, Fisherville, and New Market was my great-great-great-great grandfather, Henry, who fought under the 3rd West Virginia light artillery. A surreal experience to be sure, and it also yielded a slimy salamander as a solid final herp of the day. As Bethany says, "You haven't been herping unless you have slimy salamander slime on you." Pictures are below. As always, I hope you enjoyed the read, and happy herping to you all!
 

Attachments

General chit-chat
Help Users
  • No one is chatting at the moment.
  • Chat Bot:
    Calgarycoppers has left the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Nerodia1:
    Děkuji za přijetí. Hledám tohoto obojživelníka, Typhlonectes compressicauda, nevíte, kde ho získat, nejlépe někde v Evropě.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    Caudex has left the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    VEEK has left the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Lanalotl:
    My axie is acting woerd he was a rescue as stated in a different post he got better and now seems to be deteriorating again...again all tank conditions are OK and as should be. He seems to have some black dapple like pattern under his bottom lip? Is that normal? And his two back feet have a little wierd growth? Almost? Tiny tiny tiny lump. His capillaries in his feathers also appear darker and more visible. Any help would be appreciated
    +1
    Unlike
  • Lanalotl:
    Hes a leucistic axie
    +1
    Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    AmphibiGirl has left the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Dibgame:
    Hey guys. First time on this forum and im not sure what formatting i should use but hey here i go.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Jadezoey:
    Hi! I'm being in a hard position where I have to re-home my axolotls. I'm moving out and I would like to find them a new home with someone who can take proper care of them
    +1
    Unlike
  • Jadezoey:
    I have an adult wild type and a juvenile leucistc
    +1
    Unlike
  • Unlike
  • BigAl:
    Oops my bad accidentally sent that
    +1
    Unlike
  • Binditheaxolotl:
    @HalfDrunkToastLol
    +1
    Unlike
  • AxieMomma87:
    is anyone online???
    +1
    Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    Calgarycoppers has joined the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    Calgarycoppers has left the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • AxieMomma87:
    Are you still here
    +1
    Unlike
  • ZayneSantos:
    Is there anyone on who can give me advice?
    +1
    Unlike
  • Max2445:
    @ZayneSantos, What advice do you need
    +1
    Unlike
  • KrabzAga:
    based on this video what type of salamander might this larva be? I suspect either eastern newt or spotted salamander
    +1
    Unlike
  • KrabzAga:
    help appreciated
    +1
    Unlike
  • KrabzAga:
    they are from missouri
    +1
    Unlike
  • MoaningMyrtle:
    Hi...I used to have a Doctor Fish business...I closed about 3 years ago, but still have lots of big, chunky filtration rocks (lava) how could I clean a few of these to use with my Lottie, please? Would they help or hinder overall tank health? don't want to cause her any problems...love my girl to bits!! many thanks in advance. xx
    +1
    Unlike
  • MoaningMyrtle:
    This is my first post...and I think I've put it in the wrong place...if so, I'm very sorry to crash your thread !1
    +1
    Unlike
    MoaningMyrtle: This is my first post...and I think I've put it in the wrong place...if so, I'm very sorry to... +1
    Top