Monday, October 24, 2011

Up the Mountain, Along the Ridge

The weather forecast for Sunday was for sunshine and clear blue skies all day.  Well, the forecast was wrong.  It was cloudy and cool until late in the day.  It didn't matter, though, as I hiked up the Western Ridge Trail in Moreau Lake State Park, where the golden leaves overhead shed a glow that seemed as warm and bright as the missing sunshine.

I was actually grateful for the cool temperature, since the trail starting up the mountain was steep enough to have me huffing and puffing and sweating by the time I reached the first overlook.  Most of the time, the fully-leaved trees obscured the view of the Hudson valley below, but at one point the view opened up to reveal the Spier Falls Dam in the distance and the Luzerne Mountains rising to the north.

I followed the Western Ridge Trail to where it intersected with the Ridge Run Trail, then turned to follow that second trail as it led to the highest point in the park, an open area where the bedrock emerges in massive  outcroppings.

These boulders are populated by many different mosses and lichens, and I was hoping to once again find the tiny attractive lichen called Orange Rock Posy, which I had found here several times in the past.  Here's a photo of a patch of it I found two years ago come December.

 Well, I searched and I searched, but I could not find a trace of Orange Rock Posy.  What a disappointment!  One of the great pleasures of lichen-hunting is that most lichens look pretty much the same in every season and from year to year.  Perhaps I just can't see them anymore, with my failing eyesight, and they are very small, after all.  For sure, I will keep looking.

In the meantime, I did find another interesting growth, most likely a lichen, that looked like a pinkish stain studded with tiny red bumps.  Maybe some of my more knowledgeable friends will tell me what it is.

My disappointment at not finding my lichen was soon assuaged when I raised my eyes to enjoy the beauty all around me, where Low Blueberry spread a scarlet carpet across the rocks.

Standing on top of one of the largest outcroppings, I could see through the trees to tier upon tier of mountains rising across the river.

A pair of small brown birds kept flitting just out of range of my camera's zoom lens.  Since they made not a sound and sang not a note, I couldn't identify them by ear, and my photo is not clear enough to show me much detail.  My guess is some kind of thrush.  But shouldn't they have migrated long ago?  Perhaps this prolonged warm weather is keeping them here.

I found this miniature clump of Polypody adorable, especially with that tiny hemlock cone nestled in among the little fronds.

Now, how did that get there?!   It looks like a chunk of rock detached from an overhanging  cliff and hurtled down to embed itself in the bedrock.  Except that there is no looming cliff nearby.  Very mysterious!

Wow!  I guess you could definitely say that this Maple-leaved Viburnum was "shocking" pink.   The day was growing late and the forest was starting to darken when I came upon this arrangement of rock, ferns, moss, and leaves, just seeming to glow in the gloom.  Such a perfect final note to my walk through this beautiful woods.


squirrel said...

I wonder if that bolder is one of the glacier transported bolders I have been reading about in geology books lately. It sure looks like it. I think there are a few in Central Park.

Carolyn h said...

What a lovely walk! I think your thrush is a Swainson's thrush, though it's hard to tell from the photo. I took a walk too on Sunday. Photos from that walk will be posted sometime this week, as well. Today, I posted from my day of hawkwatching.

Louise said...

Beautiful. I'm just back from the Great Smokies (still have to sort my pictures) and I don't think I saw a prettier vista than the one you have gifted us with.

Virginia said...

Oh yes, I think this is the trip you and I had planned for ADK last year. How gorgeous! And as always, your photos make it all so intriguing.

catharus said...

Thanks for taking us along your lovely walk! Yeh, it's a bit hard to tell what thrush that is. I agree with Carolyn h that it looks most like a Swainson's thrush, but I think this time of year, a Hermit thrush would otherwise be more likely. Can't say for sure. :-(

Ellen Rathbone said...

I lugged out my lichen tome to see if I could get you at least a genus for that red-spotted pinkish lichen, but to no avail. The closest is the Christmas Lichen (Cryptothecia rubrocina), but a) it grows in the southeast, and b) the center of the powdery, crustose part is green, not white like yours. Otherwise, it is a perfect match! There are some other crustose lichens with red fruiting bodies in the center, but none have the pink outer ring yours has. I hope someone else can help you figure it out!

Ellen Rathbone said...

Try this website:

Maybe contact the writer (has email contact at bottom of page) - perhaps s/he can help you out!

Woodswalker said...

squirrel, I think you are probably right. We find some pretty amazing glacial erratics in the mountains around here.

Thanks, Carolyn, both for your kind comment and for the possible bird ID. All thrushes look so much alike to me, I can only tell them apart from their songs. And of course, they're not singing now.

Hi Louise, I saw your photos of the Great Smokies. Lovely! And you're right, our mountains are almost as pretty, even if not so high.

Yes, Virginia, this is the start of that trip we didn't do. I hope we can plan to make it happen next year.

Thanks for weighing in about the thrush, catharus. I didn't know we would have Hermit Thrushes still around, either. I certainly hear them along this trail in the summer, singing their exquisite song.

Hi Ellen, thanks for trying to ID that lichen. I tried to email the lichen expert from the address on his site, but my message came back undeliverable. I'll keep asking around. Good to hear from you.