Monday, July 28, 2008

Hazy Days

One of the more surprising discoveries of a hiking venture around Boone about a week ago was that the Blue Ridge Mountains really are blue. (The new banner I put on the blog is a picture I took out there, colors unchanged.)

It didn't take me long to figure out why: the South is so damn humid, that's why. By the end of the hike, and on a not-particularly-hot day, it looked like I had taken a jump into a swimming hole (I had not... I wish I could've). At the end I was able to wring out about 1/2 a cup of sweat from my shirt alone. Here's more information about it from the Frequently Asked Questions about the Blue Ridge Parkway on the National Park Services page:
Why is the Blue Ridge "blue"? According to "A Naturalist's Blue Ridge Parkway" by David Catlin, "it can be legitimately claimed that trees put the "blue" in Blue Ridge, for hydrocarbons released into the atmosphere by the forest contribute to the characteristic haze on these mountains and to their distinctive color." The entire Appalachian Chain is extraordinarily diverse and rich in its vegetation, so there is perhaps more "blue" to the Blue Ridge and more "smoky" to the Great Smoky Mountains.

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