"The mountains are calling and I must go.”
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity...”
"On the tops of mountains, as everywhere to hopeful souls, it is always morning”
“Men go back to the mountains, as they go back to sailing ships at sea, because in the mountains and on the sea they must face up.”
--Henry David Thoreau
Muir and Thoreau are two of my heroes, and they both championed the beauty not just of the wilderness but of the mountains specifically. At home just outside of New York City, or at school just outside Boston (though actually not far from Walden Pond), both are in short supply. But with a car and a free weekend they are not totally out of reach. You can't get to Muir's 19th century Yosemite, but you can certainly get out of suburbia and into the woods.
|Got to get to where it looks like this.|
Our first impressions seemed to confirm his stories: while driving miles on Route 28 through the dark pine woods towards town we got a text from Colin: a photo of a bear walking down a road, taken minutes earlier from his front yard. By the time we arrived it had moved on, though we joked (maybe a bit nervously) about it lurking in the shadows as we walked up the driveway. The air was strikingly different from by our homes in Westchester County-- cool, crisp, and noticeably pine-scented. After meeting Colin's parents and catching up with him we went to bed, with plans for an early morning hike.
|The lookout tower on Bald Mountain.|
|Sunrise from Bald Mountain|
|Michael and Colin in the woods on Bald Mountain|
In the parking lot we came across what was definitely the "most raven-ey" raven I have ever seen. Sometimes I see a raven, and am uncertain whether or not it is a crow before it croaks. This one was so massive that when I first saw it I was sure it was a vulture. As we approached it groaned loudly (I half expected to hear 'nevermore') and flapped off.
|More awesome boggyness|
|White-fringed Orchids were abundant in the bog|
|Round-leafed Sundews are carnivorous-- the leaves are like sticky little deathtraps.|
|As are Pitcher Plants. The flower is on the left, the 'pitchers'|
lower to the ground on the right
|More Gray Jay!|
|Gray Jay playing peekaboo|
|A classic boreal scene-- Gray Jay in bog on spruce|
|Olive-sided Flycatcher in its element, singing away|
|Surveying his domain|
|Lincoln's Sparrow pops out of the undergrowth for a second|
After oversleeping by an hour and having lunch, Alec, Michael and I (Colin had to work) set off on our next adventure-- canoeing down the serene Moose River that flows through town. The river was placid and lined with white lilies and purple pickerelweed, and the afternoon sun made it a gorgeous paddle.
|The Moose River|
|Is there any better way to spend an afternoon than on a calm river in the woods?|
|I think not|
For the next morning, we had debated an ambitious plan to try to see the (apparently) famous Bull Moose of Helldiver Pond, which Colin had done the week before, but with a forecast of thunderstorms we scrapped that, and its requisite 3 a.m. wakeup, in favor of a closer hike, around Moss Lake. Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate for that either, and we slept in and made Michael's renowned pancakes instead. It had cleared up by noon, and three of us (Colin again had to leave for work) drove to Moss Lake. The trail there loops through the woods around the lake itself, which had osprey in their nest, perched precariously in a dead tree on an island. The forest was rich, with conifers, maples, and yellow birch above an understory of ferns, hobblebush, clubmoss, and indian pipe. We found a family of Magnolia Warblers, a Red-backed Salamander under a log, and lots of delicious wild raspberries.
|Day-flying moths can be confusing. The Spear-marked Black can be mistaken for a butterfly|
|While the aptly-named Hummingbird Clearwing closely resembles a hummingbird in flight|
|This is the familiar Great Spangled Fritillary...|
|But this is my first Atlantis Fritillary|
|Gotta come back to see these guys again|