There is so much history behind the Chinqua-Penn Trail, I wouldn’t know where to begin, so please join me on an impressionistic exploration of this tiny loop on the outskirts of Wentworth, Rockingham County.
A member of the rhododendron family, great laurel (R. maximum) is an Appalachian mainstay. I am pretty sure that is what the above shrub is. I grew up among these, about 15 miles from Chinqua-Penn. There was a stand of pine neighboring our backyard, with an understory of rhododendron. This photo does not do it justice.
This shelf- or ear-looking fungus iridesced bluish-olive green the closer I got. Fascinating the alchemy of living pigments and light.
Kudzu – at one time hailed as the saving grace of eroded landscapes, then cursed for it’s rambling intrusion, now viewed with indifference. I’ll reserve my judgement for a later time. Except to say that the Chinqua-Penn woods give even kudzu a rarified air.
Soaring conifers. I suspect they are Eastern hemlock, but submit this identification to heavy-handed correction. It could be of the Pinus genus, but something about the bark told me otherwise.
Remnants of a bygone plantation era. That bottom step is a millstone, one of many used in other constructs, including the tables underneath the oversized umbrella-canopy at the top of the stairs. Here, the Penns entertained in the solitude of the woods. They can’t be seen in the photo, but there are numerous native forbs, such as green-and-gold (Chrysogonum virginianum), painstakingly planted or maintained by stewards of the trail.
A modern addition, this elevated boardwalk makes it possible to traverse the bog to the right without trampling the steeper incline to the left.
The walking trail traverses a forest which may either be classified as “Basic Mesic Forest” or “Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest,” depending on certain indicator species which occur in low densities or may be spring ephemerals. On top of that, there are a good number of pines and other evergreens.
We’re still waiting on a frost to usher in fall weather. We may get one before All Hallow’s Eve. A happy one to all.