The sun had barely risen over the Pisgah Ridge, but the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Devils Courthouse pull-off was teeming — mainly with women, mainly older, wearing pins and clad in skirts and stoles and scarves, some of which were made of bona fide mink.
They were the Daughters of the American Revolution, and they were excited to commemorate an achievement of their predecessors, the Daughters of nearly a century before.
A couple of Saturday’s ago Bob Olthoff and I made a quick trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway. We were going up to Black Balsam to look for yellow-rumped warblers. Yellow-rumps are regular visitors to Western North Carolina during the winter but generally pack their bags and head back to New England and/or Canada for nesting season. Occasionally nesting yellow-rumps can be found at higher elevations in the mountains of North Carolina.
A small section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, between Milepost 420 (near Black Balsam Road) and Milepost 423 (at Hwy. 215), will be closed from Nov. 3 through May 2015.
The fight for survival is nothing new for high-elevation species in Southern Appalachia.
After the glaciers receded at the end of the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago and temperatures warmed, remnants of a cold-weather forest in southern Appalachia were forced high up the mountain slopes. There, they hung on to small, ever-shrinking islands in the upper reaches of the Smoky Mountains — where the coniferous trees on the high peaks more closely resemble southern Canada than North Carolina.