Walking in South Knoxville: Forks of the River WMA

Look!  It’s the beginning of another path to explore in South Knoxville!
Actually, this is a post about many paths.  Many, many paths, which you can find at the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area, one of the stops along the South Knox Loop and part of the  Knoxville Urban Wilderness.
Emily and I have spent part of two Saturdays here so far, and it will take us at least two more to make sure we hit all the trails (so we can cross them off and eventually get a badge for walking every trail in the wilderness).  I have been especially excited about walking here because years ago when we would walk on the Will Skelton Greenway (it runs along the river on the outskirts of the WMA) we used to wonder about all the rest of the land and wish that we dared to walk on some of the paths we saw.  And now we can!
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The Will Skelton Greenway doesn’t start here, of course–it begins at Island Home Park and skirts Ijams before it reaches this point.  The first part of it isn’t even part of the South Loop.  It’s paved and you plan a walk that would include some of the WMA trails and Ijams trails (that’s what we did on our recent visit.).
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Besides the Tennessee and French Broad Rivers, visitors to the WMA will get to enjoy creeks as well.  Don’t you love the soothing sound they make?
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We got a little turned around on the trails the first time we came, but that won’t happen again thanks to the app I told y’all about already.  This last time we just looked at the little dot on our phones if we weren’t sure which way we should be going!  But the trails are well marked for those of you who like your nature technology-free.
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This place abounds with beautiful views.  There are meadow views . . .
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Woodland views . . .FOW 8
And river views . . .
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What I love most (and can’t stop taking pictures of) are the wildflowers.
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One thing to keep in mind:  hunting is allowed here, so be careful.  Stay on the trails.  The different hunting seasons are posted and you might want to make note of when it’s likely to be more populated with hunters if you are concerned.
Next time you feel like hiking in the mountains, go the the WMA instead.  Save yourself some gas and see the surprising places a path right here in Knoxville can lead!

Along Came a Spider

Back in the summer, a writing spider took up residence in a bush in my garden, just outside my front door.  Now I’m the kind of person who runs screaming at the sight of even small spiders, and this one was big.  But William loves spiders, and so we left her alone.
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spider 10One day our spider was not in her usual spot.  A quick survey of the area around her web  turned her up in a nearby bush, finishing up her egg sac.
spider 7Now I’ve read Charlotte’s Web, so I know what’s supposed to happen to a spider after she completes her Magnum Opus.  So when the spider disappeared shortly thereafter, at first I was sure she had died.   But instead the next day she turned up on the garage door.  This was not a very good place for her, since I need to be able to open that door to take out the garbage.  By now we were so attached to our spider friend that I left the garbage in the garage a whole extra week because I didn’t want to disturb her.  But that couldn’t go on forever, so the following week I enlisted William’s aid in moving the spider.
He scooped her up in a shovel and deposited her on a nearby bush, and we hoped she’d be okay.   The next day she had already started a new web, this time on the other garage door.  She spent a few weeks there, and every morning when I would return from taking William to school I would take the opportunity to photograph her and her shadow.
spider 6spider 5spider 4spider 3William had been frequently feeding the spider, which he had claimed for his own.  We think that may have been the reason for her long life.  But then came the day she was missing from this web too.  I was sure this was the end and felt silly because I was missing her.  But then a sharp-eyed friend of William’s spotted her in a new location, above the garage under the edge of the roof.
spider 1She built a beautiful web here in which to spend her final days.
spider 2Some time during her sojourn with us, Miss Spider deposited a SECOND egg sac.  So even though she finally disappeared for good a couple of weeks ago, it looks like at least some of her children will be around to entertain us next summer.
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Nature red in tooth and claw

The poison ivy saga continues.  Lorelei and William are covered in it.  I now have patches all over my body, doubtless from clingy Lorelei’s little hands since there is no way the actual ivy touched me in most of these spots! 
To add to the fun, I also have enormous itchy welts–probable twenty or more–on both legs.  For years now I have smugly watched little mosquitoes eat other family members alive while they mostly ignored me.  Even when they did bite me, the little welts were gone by the next day.  “Whatever happened to those big mosquitoes from when I was a little girl?” I used to say.  “You know, the ones that left huge bites that lasted for days?”  Well, now I know where they went.  They came here. 
Last night, I was actually waked up by a bug of some kind buzzing in my hair.  God only knows what that was.
Nature is waging a war against us this Spring.  And Nature is winning.