The Victoria Trail
Written by Calliope Pappadakis   
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 14:26

Victoria TrailWe live about a half a mile hike from the Appalachian Trail, which runs along the top of Peter's Mountain north of our house.

This makes for some great hiking, beautiful scenery and lots of side trails. The Victoria Trail runs perpendicular to the AT, with its Trail Head at the Iberson Convservation Area, off Back Road in Powell's Valley, and goes up Peter's Mountain. It then crosses the AT and runs along it for a few feet, and goes back down the other side of the mountain and ends in a pull off area on Clarks Valley Road. It's a great 1.8 mile hike, marked as difficult, but I would change that to medium. There are side trails, too, that run around and across the AT - Whitetail Tail, Pine Trail, Rock Trail,  and others.  According to long-time hikers, Hike-Along Henry who sipped a pint of chocolate milk as he headed up Peter's Mountain and his friend, the Lady Slippers should be in bloom next week sometime, but this week there were ferns and May Apples galore.

Victoria Trail 2May Apple

About a week later, the Earthy Cowboy and I went in search of the lady slippers and followed the directions I had read about on how to find them -- look for a stream of sunlight coming through the tops of trees in a place where pines grow. They like the acidic soil apparently. We recently met a botanist named Ed at a Blue Rooster Farm picnic who told us that the lady slippers have a micoparisitism-type relationship certain fungi where the fungi doesn't really gain anything in the relationship in exchange for being eaten. "The fungal roots (hyphae) penetrate the seed and then the orchid turns the tide, digesting the fungus instead." (Transplanting) Because of this complex relationship, people are not successful when they attempt to grow them in their home gardens. They are meant to be left in their natural habitats. Here are the ones we spotted on Pine and Rock trails on May 10, 2010.

Lady Slipper 1Lady Slipper 2

Lady Slippers 3Lady Slippers

These lady slippers are orchids in the subfamily Cypripedioidea, in the genera Cypripedium (wikipedia). They are close to extinction because of the shrinking habitat. It was a delight to see them growing on our mountain.