Southwestern Virginia James Robert Smith
May 18, 2009

I just got back from a trip to southwestern Virginia.

As always I was on the lookout for the effects of hwa. I hate to sound
like that's all I do when I go hiking and backpacking, but it's
generally at the top of my list.

What I saw was the same weird pattern I've noticed in other places
along the Virginia/West Virginia border:

The level of infestation and mortality varies from mile to mile and
even from grove to grove within walking distances! I have yet to get
used to the way the infestations manifest themselves. One of my
hobbies is bagging peaks. One of the mountains I hiked was Little
Walker Mountain. It's a high, dry ridgeline, so there weren't a lot of
hemlock groves on it, but there were a fair number of Carolina
hemlocks along the five-mile hike I took. I would encounter some trees
that were obviously infested and in distress (but no dead ones), and
then within a hundred yards or so I would see hemlocks that were
perfectly healthy with lots of new growth and full of needles.

Then we did some hiking on the AT around Burke's Garden. This area is
not very far from Little Walker Mountain, but the hemlocks there are
in really bad shape. Lots of mortality and many, many sick trees
hanging on. I'm wondering if the folk hiking the AT aren't acting as
vectors. Maybe? Almost no one hikes Little Walker, but droves hike the

At any rate, just some more observations on the weird happenstance
attack of hwa.

Later I need to post some links to images to get some stuff

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