- Wayah Bald, NC,
What does 'bald' mean in this case? Usually it means 'white'
or 'white head' i.e. bald eagle, pied/piebald, skewed/skewbald.
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The Mystery of Balds and Boulderfields
Boulderfields, too, are most unusual natural places. They consist of
many acres of jumbled boulders, mostly moss-covered and with a rich
assemblage of wildflowers in late spring and early summer under such
mid-altitude trees as yellowwood (Cladrastris kentukea), American
basswood, and yellow birch. Currants and gooseberries are common
shrubs found in these areas. Usually boulderfields occur above 3,200
feet elevation, and they almost always are found in steep, north-
facing coves. Although it is not known exactly how they formed,
boulders undoubtedly were created from bedrock during the last ice
age, approximately 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. Even though the
northern glaciers never reached the southern Appalachians, it is
believed that the freezing and thawing and resulting fracturing and
uplifting of bedrock during the ice age were primarily responsible
for producing the boulderfields.
The most mysterious habitats in the southern Appalachians, though,
are those known as balds. Balds are defined as high-altitude open
areas devoid of trees, occurring as either shrub-dominated areas or
tundralike grasslands at or near the summits of our highest
mountains at the edges of Canadian-zone spruce-fir forests. Shrub
balds, which usually consist of nearly impenetrable rhododendrons
(Rhododrendron maximum or R. carolinianum at lower elevations and R.
catawbiense at higher elevations) and mountain laurel (Kalmia
latifolia), are sometimes known as heath balds, referring to the
family of plants to which these shrubs belong. The grass balds
appear to be grasslands overall with a few clumps of shrubs or
stunted trees such as mountain-ash (Sorbus americana) and willows
No one seems to know how balds were formed or why they persist. Most
natural areas evolve their vegetational composition over time, a
process called succession, leading to the ultimate climax community,
which would theoretically persist for a long time. At lower
elevations in the southern Appalachians, the climax forest would be
cove, oak-hickory, or pine forest; at the top of Mount Mitchell, the
climax forest is spruce-fir. Yet, on many of the Appalachians'
higher peaks are these open, heathlike or grassy bald areas that
have not been invaded by the surrounding forest species and have
apparently persisted in this state for thousands of years.
Although ecologists have offered many theories for the persistence
of balds, no one theory has been universally accepted. Some
speculate they could be the result of intermittent fire caused by
lightning. Historically, early settlers used balds for grazing cows
and sheep, an activity that limited plant succession. Native
Americans may have done the same for their domesticated stock.
Balds, however, still exist, and probably have not changed
significantly for at least hundreds of years.
Wayah Bald= Cherokee word for "wolf" - due to prepadrance of red
wolves before us white guys showed-up.
Tadeusz -Illinois -sun is shining and in the 30's.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Larry Wallace" <Larry.Wallace@m...>
> Wayah Bald, NC,
> Gregory Bald
> What does 'bald' mean in this case? Usually it means 'white'
> or 'white head' i.e. bald eagle, pied/piebald, skewed/skewbald.