Tuesday, August 30, 2011

After Irene

We lost a few trees.  Parts of the county lost power when trees fell across lines.    That was about all the damage Hurricane Irene brought to us hereabouts.  Wow, what a bunch of hurricane hype, I was thinking.  But that was before I heard about what happened up north in the Adirondacks.   And down in the Catskills and along the Mohawk.  And over in the valley towns of Vermont.  Roads and bridges washed out, houses collapsed and swept away,  folks caught in their cars as the waters rose, a woman drowned where she'd taken refuge inside her creekside cottage.  I could hardly believe what I was hearing.  Aren't hurricanes supposed to lose power as they move this far inland?  Ah, but it wasn't the wind that did the damage, it was the rain.  And it was the mountains themselves.  The colder air at high elevations kept condensing all the moisture the far-flung arms of this enormous storm were gathering from the ocean far away.  The unrelenting rain poured down from the mountainsides and filled the valleys, more than all the creeks and streams and lakes and ponds and rivers could hold.  It will be a long, long time before these valleys recover.  If ever.  God help the folks who live there and have lost so much.

We had not heard of these disasters, Sue and I, when we met at Moreau Lake State Park on Monday morning, rejoicing in a cool clear day, with sparkling sunlight dancing on a world washed clean by rain and swept by the rushing winds of the day before.  We have both volunteered as trail stewards at the park, and we thought we should walk our trails to see if any downed trees needed to be cleared.  Well, apparently a downed tree somewhere had cut the power to the park headquarters, for the park was closed that day.

No problem for us.  We just drove around to Spier Falls Road and accessed the trails we were there to police from Mud Pond.  Walking the trails around the pond, we were surprised to find no trees down at all, just limbs and branches we could easily lift from the trails by hand.  Or kick away with our feet.  The pond lay sweetly calm under that innocent blue sky, stirred only by Whirligig bugs and herons' wingbeats and a pair of snorkeling beavers.  All was so serene, it was hard to imagine the driving wind and rain that had whipped it just the day before.

We next cut through the woods to Moreau Lake and walked around the back bay.  Here too, we found little wind damage, but only basking turtles and scurrying flocks of ducks that seemed annoyed by our arrival.  The park had been closed to all campers and boaters in advance of the hurricane, so all was very quiet.  No beer cans or candy wrappers or bait boxes, either.    This day turned out to be an easy one for trail stewarding.

On my way home from Moreau yesterday, I took Spier Falls Road along the Hudson.  The river was big and brown and full of flotsam and foam, but not over its banks at all, nor even near to being so.  Wondering how it looked upstream, I drove up to Lake Luzerne today to observe the Hudson where it falls through a gorge at Rockwell Falls.  Well, as this photo taken from the Hadley-Luzerne bridge shows, the river was rowdy and roiling, but still within its banks, even here where the Sacandaga pours its waters into the Hudson.

The stream that carries the overflow from Lake Luzerne to the Hudson was also rowdy and roiling, tumbling wildly over boulders on its steep descent from lake to river.  But again, well within its banks, except for a little sloshing around the base of this tree.  We were very, very lucky to have survived this hurricane with so little damage.

To read reports and see photos of the devastation caused by Irene not too many miles north of Lake Luzerne,  visit the Adirondack Almanack by clicking here.

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Trailside Distractions

As I'm sure most of my regular readers know, neither Sue nor I can walk a trail without stopping again and again to marvel at what we see.  And take lots of photos.  In no particular order, here's a catalog of some of the fascinating things we found yesterday and today, including an incredible variety of colorful fungi stirred to fruiting by inches and inches of drenching rain.

Pinesap, in its beautiful red coloration

The bright pink pedicels of Elderberries

Nodding Ladies' Tresses (Spiranthes cernua), one of our latest orchids to bloom

A big, bright-yellow mushroom, possibly an Amanita, but I'm not sure

This, too, is likely an Amanita of some species, emerging from its cup.

I know that this is an Amanita, called American Caesar.  Most Amanitas are poisonous, but this one is supposed to be quite edible.  I would rather look at it than eat it.

I don't know the official name of this fungus, so I'll call it Fortune Cookie.  Or Brown Baby's Bottom.

This is an orange coral fungus, species unknown (to me).

Frost's Boletus, the richest, reddest mushroom I've ever seen.  Unmistakeable.  

The velvety red underside of the Frost's Boletus cap.  If you break the cap open, the inside flesh is butter yellow that quickly turns blue when exposed to air.

The fuzziest mushroom I've ever seen.  Shall I call it Teddy Bear Shelf Fungus?  
Or can somebody tell me its official name?

The bright orange color of this Lobster Mushroom is caused 
by a parasite embedded in the flesh of a Lactarius mushroom.

I suspect that the yellow color coating this mushroom is also some kind of parasite.

This Parasol Mushroom is the tallest-stalked member of the Lepiotas, and edible, too.

What a cute little pixie cap this is.  Pretty color, too. Wish I knew its name.

I believe this is a Gemmed Puffball, so-called for the pretty pattern of bumps that adorn it.

This is obviously a Boletus species with a distinctive-looking stalk, but nothing in my mushroom books is a match.  Update:  Ruth Schottman has suggested that this is Russell's Bolete (Boletellus russellii), and after checking my mushroom guides again, I tend to agree.  Thanks, Ruth.

Sue pointed out to me this iridescent bright-green fly, and we both tried to get photos that displayed its brilliant iridescence.  We were surprised that the fly didn't fly away when we poked our camera lenses at it.  Then we saw the Crab Spider beneath, perfectly camouflaged by the White Snakeroot blooms, clasping the fly in a death grip.  Aha, that's why it didn't move! But I still couldn't capture that brilliant green.


Andrew Lane Gibson said...

very happy to hear you escaped the worst! you and other friends in the new england area were on my mind as I was safe and sound in ohio. thoughts and prayers are with those less fortunate and suffered loss, both with life and possessions.

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

Good job you did not receive the more aggressive aspect of Irene, and I must say what a cache of jewels you have pictured here, I have never seen such a brightly coloured and eccentric looking bunch of fungi, such a treat.

catharus said...

'Glad to hear you didn't fare any worse! Yes, much of the areas you mentioned experienced incredible damage! Some very hard hit towns escaping much of the news are in the Catskills.

Louise said...

I'm glad you posted. I've been wondering and worrying about how you were getting along. I'm glad to hear that you're all right, though my heart grieves for all of those who lost so much.

Ellen Rathbone said...

What beautiful finds! The pinesaps I've seen were never that brilliant! Love the red mushroom erupting from its cup!

Glad you were missed by the worst of Irene.

Anonymous said...

The Amanitas look like they are hatching. How apt ... both Fortune Cookie or Brown baby's bottom ... the little yellow pixie cap is just too cute! Thanks again! Glad all is ok by you! Sent some prayers your way!

Tessa said...

that spider shot is an awesome capture! great shot!