At Buckeye Trail’s beginning there is a strange hill hump meadow thing that looks very out of place. It is an old rather small landfill that must have served Raleigh a very long time ago, but recently enough to be mowed and monitored as landfills now must be. It swells at the base of a ridge coming down from Peartree Lane across Milburnie Road into the Crabtree floodplain and diverts the waters coming down from Longview Lake into a deeply carved creek that parallels Milburnie and strikes Crabtree just north of the Bow Tie Club, where a very dubiously placed parking lot has been scraped out right next to the creek and seemingly in the water’s right of way. Anyway, this landfill meadow hides a local kids’ landmark on its wooded northern slope: two huge boulders that must have been unearthed in the landfill’s operation. I mean huge! You know how big they are? Check the title!
They sit in the middle of this woods in east Raleigh like alien monoliths. There just are no big rocks in this part of Raleigh – it’s either red clay or sand, but no rocks. Before the greenway got built, I would go every few winters and make a ritual of being able to locate, once again, these well hidden icons of my childhood woodcraft. Now, the cross-country trail which begins at the top of the landfill meadow takes me down the ridge to a spot where I can hop off and find them in minutes. Which is cool, and I still go. But only in winter. There are large number of sewer line cuts and various off-trail adventures which poison ivy forbids from me most of the year. But in the dead of winter, I can explore these spots with impunity – as long as I don’t grab any vines while hopping ditches!
This stretch of greenway shows Crabtree slowing down and deepening as it winds through the marshy joining with Marsh Creek. The quiet stretch below is just before turning at Milburnie to slide under New Bern Avenue and curve with the beltline toward the Neuse River junction at Anderson Point. Another touchstone on this walk (available at all times of year, right next to the greenway) is the largest oak gall of which I know. These red bugs (and I mean true bugs for those in the know) come swarming out of it dangerously early in the spring some years.
There are all kinds of nifty finds on this easternmost stretch of greenway. Below are two interesting types of fungi: shelf mushrooms and slime mold.