Monday, May 30, 2011

Stormy Weather at Pyramid Lake

Earlier in the week, the forecast was for clearing skies in the Adirondacks. But the weatherman sure got it wrong. I went up to Pyramid Lake on Friday to help open camp at Pyramid Life Center, and it seemed we had another storm pass through about every half hour. Ah well, at least it made for beautiful atmospherics, with post-storm mists rising from the forest and shrouding the surrounding mountains.

When I rose at 6 on Saturday morning, the lake was blanketed in mist, but at least it wasn't pouring, as it had been off and on all night.

That soft pearly light was great for taking shadowless photographs. I'd never been able to get such a clear shot of the flowers of Mountain Maple, which, unlike the more pendant flowers of other maples, stand straight up, and thus help to distinguish this small, sprawling tree from other understory trees.

I had time for a paddle before breakfast (or the next downpour), so I headed down to a cedar swamp at the eastern end of the lake, accompanied by the calls of loons, carrying clearly across the misty water. Unfurling Royal Ferns glowed a rich red against the deep green forest.

Rotting logs that have fallen across this shallow end of the lake form nursery beds for all kinds of interesting plants. I thought these tiny Sweet White Violets looked especially beautiful backed by the glistening garnet drops of Round-leaved Sundew.

When the morning fog cleared, the sun broke through for a while, but by that time I was busy sweeping and dusting and making up beds in the guest bedrooms, so I could enjoy that sunshine only by looking through the windows. Ah, but what a view! And then, by the time I was ready to take a break from my work, it was raining hard again.

Because of the drenching rains, I never made my annual forays into the forest and around the shore to seek out the flowers that should be blooming this time of year. But never mind, some of the loveliest flowers grow right along the entrance road to the camp, where the presence of these Broad Beech Ferns indicate a lime-rich woods.

Although I may not have been so lucky regarding the weekend weather, I sure was lucky to find Purple Virgin's Bower in bloom, and abundantly so. I hunt for it every year among the boulders that line the entrance road, but I often do not find it. Its blooming period is very short, so it's easy to miss. These blooms could be gone tomorrow, in fact. When I touched one to try to peer inside its close-cupping flower head, the purple petals fell off in my hand.

Here's a closer view of that flower. Are those translucent purple parts petals? Or are they sepals? I confess I do not know.

Here are some of the other beauties blooming along the road: Foamflower and Fringed Polygala, and a little bit of Miterwort, too.

This boulder was nearly covered with the miniature dogwood called Bunchberry.

On my way home Saturday afternoon, I stopped off at Eagle Lake for a quick paddle, wanting to explore a boggy shore that lines the bank of a stream feeding into the lake. I have never seen such a brilliantly scarlet variety of Royal Fern as the one that grows here. It will subside to an ordinary green in a week or so, but it certainly is brilliant when it first opens.
This boggy area is full of Bog Laurel and Bog Rosemary and Pitcher Plants just now coming into bloom, but I never saw them. I had to cut my paddle short as a light sprinkle soon turned into torrents of rain that threatened to fill my canoe even faster than I could bail it. There was no way I could risk my camera to take any photos, either.

Turns out, I was lucky to have cut my paddle short and headed home. As it was, I could barely drive 20 miles an hour, with a blinding rain slamming hard against my windshield, and my tires sloshing around on the water-drenched road. I heard today that a stretch of the Northway along the Schroon River was closed due to flooding shortly after I passed that area. Oh my, we have had a wet spring! But now it's officially summer. You hear that, rain? Time for you to call it a day and clear out.


Anonymous said...

Just beautiful! Thank you for the post!

suep said...

all weekend I heard thunder and saw dark clouds sailing up to the northwest - apparently to rendezvous with you at Pyramid !
The sky has to dry out eventually...
love the sundew photo, pretty and sticky at the same time

catharus said...

Looks fantastic! 'Never heard of the purple (?) virgin's bower. The flowers look very different from the "regular" virgin's bower. Looks like some wonderful photo opportunities! Thanks!

swamp4me said...

Beautiful flowers. Now, if only some of that lovely rain would make it down to us. We have had a very dry, hot spring and there is no rain expected in the extended forecast. To add insult to injury, temps are going to be in the mid-90s :(

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks for all your kind comments, my friends. Glad you enjoyed the photos. I would have had lots more if it hadn't rained so furiously.

Sure wish we could send some of that rain down to you, swamp4me. Our farmers can't plant corn in flooded fields, so no way will it be knee-high by the 4th of July this year.

Catharus, another name for Purple Virgin's Bower is Purple Clematis, and yes, its flowers don't look like either the white-flowered wild Virgin's Bower or the garden-variety Clematis. But you would recognize the fluffy, twirly seed heads as similar to the others'. IF you could find them. This plant is pretty rare in most states surrounding NY.

Ian said...

Again beautiful photos of glorious wildflowers. interesting to see the sundew as we have a sundew species just coming into bud in the opposite season

The Cranky Crone, she lives alone! said...

I do so enjoy my look around where ever you have been, and your informed words.
I was charged by a Stag yesterday in my local woods, I had never seen one before there and I have been walking ther for 2 years! Have you ever had an encounter with strikingly not cute wild life?

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Ian, thanks for stopping by to leave a comment. When I click on your name I am treated to wonderful photos of the beauties you live among way down there on the other side of the world.

Oh Cranky Crone, those stags do get huffy at times! I've never had any nasty encounters with largish animals, but I sure have had some unpleasantness due to the itty-bitty ones: mosquitoes always and now and then ticks. I've been treated for Lyme Disease four times now.