April 1996

April 8, 1996

Dear SCAN members,

Although SCAN has been to Forty Acre Rock many times previously, we must credit our northern regional directors Gary Sowell and Nancy Lyman with coming up with “trails” that most of us have not traversed before. Some of the trails were newly marked with Nancy’s bedsheets torn into strips and fastened to trees, and part of one trail went by way of a log over a raging torrent (at least it seemed like a raging torrent to those of us afraid of crossing on slippery logs). The new area included a dike which served as the right bank of Flat Creek, which we followed for half a mile. Because of the alkaline nature of the diabase dike, there were bright blue hepaticas, bloodroot, trout lilies, and corydalis blooming there, although the unseasonably late freezes undoubtedly reduced the number and variety of flowers overall. The beaver dam which creates the lake was very long, perhaps 20to 30 feet, but only a foot or two high; it was beautifully constructed. Birding was not exceptional and the beaver didn’t show his face, but several frogs and lizards were sighted. Thanks, Gary and Nancy, for a fine trip! For the record, the trip was March 23 to the Flat Creek Heritage Preserve on Lancaster County.

WHAT’S A DIKE? A dike is a rock structure caused when solid rock cracks and molten rock from the magma below is forced up through the crack and then solidifies. The intrusive line of rock usually differs in composition from the rocks on either side. When the intrusive rock is harder than the original ones, the surrounding rocks erode faster, leaving a wall-shaped line of harder rock. That phenomenon gave it the name “dike”, because it resembles a man-made dike built to contain water. Dikes vary in width from a fraction of an inch to many feet, and may be composed of any sort of igneous rock (rock which has solidified from the molten state). The actual rock comprising the dike at Forty Acre Rock may be better seen from the road, as Gary mentioned in the previous newsletter, but we saw the ridge it created and the resulting difference in flora by the creek.

In April we’ve scheduled two trips: a special trip “in the footsteps of Andre Michaux” on April 13 (see the March newsletter for details), and our spring overnight on Saturday and Sunday, April 27 – 28, both to North Carolina. Try to join us for these trips in the (we hope) delightful springtime. New members, this means you too!

Janet Ciegler, President

The folks who were on the Fort Jackson fieldtrip in February observed aeas where there were several pencil-sized holes were fairly close together, but not connected or forming a pattern. Someone found an adult wasp who has been killed by the cold the night before. That wasp species may have been responsible for the holes. It is a member of a genus who parasitizes Scarab beetle larvae (June beetles among others). The female digs holes looking for the larva of these beetles. She stings the larva and digs around it forming a small chamber. The wasp then lays her egg on the beetle grub. The wasp larva then feeds and pupates in this underground cell. Beware disturbing her in her hunt. The female packs a very potent sting…it is not too distant a relative of the velvet ants. The female scarab hunter is fully winged, however.


Our Spring Overnight is scheduled for April 27 – 28, 1996. Actually, this trip was originally planned for last August; many of you remember the “monsoons” which set in that Saturday! Troopers that we are, though, with one of the wettest springs yet, we’ll hike down the Horsepasture (Waterfall) Trail on Saturday. Meet and park at the roadside by 10:30 a.m. Horsepasture River is a series of spectacular waterfalls and associated habitats located in Transylvania County, North Carolina. The spur access to the trail is a bit treacherous – wear some well-tractioned shoes. Pack your lunch and liquids, carry gear for dampness, and don’t forget your camera and film. There are some beautiful photo opportunities here!

On Sunday, we’ll explore Panthertown Valley (Jackson County, NC), a site dear to Charlie Williams’ heart. He’ll be guiding us through some Nantahala National Forest property as it heads to the Tuckasegee River. This area has it all – scenery, rare and/or endangered plants and wildlife. PARKING IS EXTREMELY LIMITED – so, we’ll meet at 10:00 a.m. at Thorpe’s Store parking lot to arrange transportation. This is another potentially wet trek (one option includes a trip behind a waterfall), so prepare appropriate to your comfort level.

Tent camping (only..no RV’s) will be available at Camp Buc. This is primitive camping, but with toilets. Cost will be $1.50 per person. Camp Buc is located off NC 281 north of the Horsepasture River. Just watch for the signs. If you have additional questions, please feel free to call Cathe Jones, our regional director, at (864) 271-1955.

In summary: Both days we will carry lunch. Meet at the usual time (10:30 a.m.) on Saturday and at 10:00 on Sunday at Thorpe’s Store.