Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What's In Bloom at Mtn Lake Biological Station

What's In Bloom

June 15, 2013

The following were in bloom along the Pipeline Trail - Cross Trail - Spring Trail - and Bear Cliff trail at the Mountain Lake Biological Station! (This is not an exhaustive account of what was recorded, just the highlights!)

You can join the What's In Bloom walk every Saturday at 10 am, meeting at the MLBS campus!

Fly poison, Amianthium muscitoxicum

Photo of Houstonia caerulea L.
Bluets, also called "Quaker ladies", Houstonia caerulea
Huckleberry, Gaylussacia baccatta

Galax, Galax aphyla

Squawroot or Bear corn, Conopholis americana
Canada mayflower, Maianthemum canadense

Wild sarsparilla, Aralia nudicaulis

Mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia

Common cinquefoil, Potentilla simplex

Marsh violet, Viola palustris

Yellow slime mold, unknown

Buttercup, Ranunculus sp?
A red-backed salamander, Plethodon cinereus, found near the spring on MLBS

MLBS station manager with Mountain Lake Lodge guest, checking out the flaming azalea blooms, Rhododendron calendulaceum

Friday, June 14, 2013

Lake Update & Announcement of Public Presentations

Lake Level Continues to Rise

Persistent rains continue to add more water in to the lake this month. The water level currently at the peak level that it reached in 2012. Just a few feet from the "T-dock" down near the water's edge.
Photo taken June 12, 2013
Lake level on June 12, 2013
While the Mountain Lake Board was meeting on the mountain, a special tour was arranged to give these important members a first hand look at the lake's current status and recent mitigation work. Now that the majority of the holes through the bottom are believe to have been filled, close monitoring is needed to survey the piping hole and depression areas.

Below is a snapshot extracted from the presentation that Dr. Watts has created and shared with Mountain Lake staff summarizing the geology and recent research on the lake.

Hypothetical cross section through landslide showing piping holes and conduits beneath the Newport House. Piping holes now believed plugged with natural fill material from around the basin.


Join us on the mountain for the full presentation, shared by Mountain Lake Conservancy staff, free and open to the public on the following days in the coming month:

June 28 - July 13

Every Friday at 4:00 pm 

Every Saturday at 1:00 pm

Meet in the main lobby of the lodge to be directed to the meeting space for the presentation. Expect the presentation to last approximately one hour. A guided walk in to the lake bed will follow each presentation. 

Please contact the Mountain Lake Conservancy with any questions at MLC@MtnLakeLodge.com or 540-626-7121 x422

"Jump Rock", near the boulder field on the North end of the lake.
The transducer buoy - measures instant readings of lake level elevation.
Radford University & Virginia Tech geologist Dr. Watts explaining the lake history and mitigation process on a special pontoon tour with Mountain Lake board members and fellow science techs.
A spring flowing through colluvial rocks on the northeast slope of the lake bed.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spring blooms

Spring on the Mountain ... 

Is in full force! Spring migratory birds are passing through or have arrived for the summer breeding season, wildflowers are blooming and the trees are finally leafing out on the mountain top! Here is a peak of what you can see out and about currently!

Many of these photos were from the most recent "What's In Bloom" program at the Mountain Lake Biological Station - held every Saturday at 10 am! More info. here.

This is just a taste of what we saw, you'll have to join us for an MLC Naturalist Program or the MLBS What's In Bloom program to see it all!

Painted trillium, Trillium undulatum

Bluet or "Quaker Lady", Houstonia caerulea

British soldier lichen, Cladonia sp. Found in the lake bed.

Marsh violet, Viola cucullata

Mountain bellwort, Uvularia pudica

Rattlesnake plantain, Goodyera pubescens

Wild sasparilla, Aralia nudicaulus

Eastern newt, Notophthalmus viridescens

The pink lady slipper in bud, Cypripedium acaule
Jack-in-the-pulpit,  Arisaema atrorubens

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring has sprung! Lake Update

Hello from the mountain-top!

It's been quite some time since our last post, but as the season kicks up so will our blogging! We've got lots of new exciting happenings at Mountain Lake this year that we are anxious to share!

We'll keep this post short and simple with the...

Lake Update

As with recent trends for this time of year, the lake level continues to rise with spring precipitation. However, now that the restoration efforts of filling the main depressions and holes in the lake bottom is complete, the water is rising at a faster rate than in years past. We will continue to update you on this progress- an important observation period will be in late June and early July, when the water in the lake normally begins to drop. You can read more about the restoration efforts, and overall property renovations, in a recent article here. We have an updated presentation about the lake that will be shared with guests to Mountain Lake during the season. Look for more info. about scheduled presentations coming soon to the blog, social media, and website!

Lake Level on April 23, 2013

One of the main springs feeding in to the lake on the south end

Spring feeding in to the lake, looking northeast

The adult form of the Eastern newt, also called the red-spotted newt

The adult and the larval stages of the eastern newt are aquatic. Breeding takes place in freshwater bodies such as Mountain Lake from winter to late spring.  

An eastern cottontail rabbit frolics around the Lodge grounds.

Monday, December 3, 2012

News, a Return to Blog and a Lake Update!

Hi folks! It sure has been a while since our last blog post, we hope you've been keeping up with us on the Facebook and Twitter sites! You may have read the recent article in the Roanoke Times on Mountain Lake, and we'd like to go ahead and share just a few tidbits of the new happenings on the horizon for the Mountain. Firstly, please understand that the Mountain Lake management team will share announcements and a press release addressing the 5-year revitalization plan for the property at the turn of the new year. These internal statements are your best source for the facts and exciting details as developments are solidified. 


An important pre-announcement for the Facebook site:

Two Facebook sites will be merged in to one for Mountain Lake in the near future. Please follow and "like" the current Mountain Lake Hotel page for all of your Mountain Lake news, including the types of posts previously designated to the Conservancy-specific page. The Mountain Lake Conservancy page will be merged to form one single page for Mountain Lake! We are working on the changing the permanent name for this page currently.

The Lakeview building no longer

If you haven't been on the Mountain in the past month or so, you will find that the Lakeview building is no longer there! This was the structure above the main parking lot and between the Activities Barn and main hotel that housed the Conservancy Visitor Center, Mountain Lake Gift Shop, Local Artisan and History shops. The Lakeview building was built in the mid-1900's and contained some of the Chestnut wood beams from the original Mountain Lake hotel! The time came when the building was beyond upkeep and repair, and for safety reasons needed to come down. The Mountain Lake gift shop was relocated to the Spring House building just above, and the Conservancy office is now located in the bottom floor of the main hotel near the executive offices (Winter hours are Monday - Friday, 8am to 4pm).

Permanent plans for the now empty space as well as re-locations of these shops are under review and to-be-determined!

Winter Volunteer Opportunities & Trail Use

If you and a friend or your family are interested in volunteering with the Conservancy on a few trail maintenance projects, please let us know! More details can be found on the MLC website. Opportunities include touching up spray-painted trail blazes and minor clearing. Do you recreate often at Mountain Lake or know someone who does? We could use the help keeping tabs on trail conditions and downed debris, simply send an email to MLC@MountainLakeHotel.com with "trail maint" in the subject line, and a description and location of the trail issue observed. Again, more details for winter volunteer opportunities on the Conservancy website. Thank you!
A winter sunrise from Bald Knob. Photo by guest Dan Phelps.

A reminder that the 20+ miles of Mountain Lake Conservancy trails are open year-round for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing! The Facebook site is the best resource for the most up to date reports for trail status and snow conditions. Parking is available at the trail access lot located off of rt. 613 just past the lake and near the disc golf course. Please contribute your $5.00 day use pass in the feeder tube at this lot; this is an honor system during the off-season and the funds help us maintain this parking lot and trail system for year-round use!





Lake Update

The lake has continued the same general trend for the fourth season in a row since the initial drastic drop in 2008. This year we saw the lake rise to a level not quite as high as 2011, never bringing the "T" dock down by the water to float. Despite low water levels, the continued status has allowed increasingly fascinating studies and observations of the geology and hydrology behind this unique phenomena. We've blogged some about the researchers and faculty from Radford and Virginia Tech Universities studying the lake from a new perspective influenced by geological engineering principles. The recent Roanoke Times article mentioned above discusses the seismic refraction imaging technique that has taken place in the past couple of months. The team of scientists continue to add to and improve the overall picture of what the rock bed is like underneath the lake, what the actual outflow of water through the bottom looks like, and what factors influence the amount of water retained in the lake bed.

Lake Level Nov 30, 2012

I often hear from folks "how sad" it is that the lake is so low, and I can agree to a degree of this inconvenience. More importantly, however, I encourage visitors to reflect upon the fact that this is one of those rare periods in time when you may observe the lake at this state. If and when the lake returns to full pond, there very well may not be another chance to do so within several lifetimes!!

That being said, each walk that one takes down in to that "empty" lake bed is an exploration of wonder. The oddity and beauty evoked is indescribable. The following are a series of photos and even a video all observed within the lake bed this past Friday, November 30, 2012. Perhaps these will provide a "virtual tour" of sorts in to the lake bottom (and save you the muddy venture!). We hope that this  encourages you to get outside, explore, and connect with the natural world around you wherever that may be!

Two videos linked to You Tube below-

First video is taken near the larger two depressions retaining a pond-size water. While other "bubbles" were observed that appeared to be from fish, these much larger grouped bubbles are likely coming from the piping holes.


The second video is taken just above the west-most depression that is nearly dry and shows the water flowing out through the piping hole. You can see many small, dead minnows and crayfish in the mud, and also the porous, sponge-like impression in the muck.

For reference, the lake level on Nov. 16, 2012.

A spring feeding in to the lake from the East perimeter.

Following a stream of water and looking back South towards the hotel and Bald Knob.

The larger two depressions holding a small pond size of water.

Eroded sediment in the lake bottom forms miniature canyon landscapes.

One of the two "smaller" depressions below and west of the Newport Cottage.

The west-most depression almost completely dry.

View east toward other 3 depressions.

The pole sticking out is actually about 3 feet deep in to a piping hole.

A close-up of that hole reveals a red-spotted newt and crayfish.

The cracked and drying mud of the lake bed.