Sunday, November 13, 2011

Slipping and Sliding Up the Cliffs

It was really a dumb idea.  "Let's take the cliff route up to the overlook," I said to my husband this afternoon, and being a game guy, he agreed.  It's usually an interesting option for hiking up to the Spring overlook in Moreau Lake State Park, an alternative route that leaves the well-marked and maintained trail and offers a bit of a scramble up the steep mountainside and along some towering, spring-dampened, moss-encrusted cliffs.  It's always just a little bit risky, what with jutting boulders and hidden hollows for snagging a foot, but today, with the forest floor thickly carpeted with slippery oak leaves, it felt like trying to climb a mountain made of glass.  The only way to progress, even while crawling, was to clear the layers of leaves down to the dirt, with every step.  Exhausting and nerve-wracking!

Obviously, we made it, but we had to stop and catch our breath whenever we found a relatively level spot, like the one my husband stands in here.

We felt a great relief when we reached the official, more level,  trail that leads to a rocky outcropping overlooking the Hudson River far below.

Here we could sit and rest a while, enjoying the view of the river and mountains and forest.

Most of the colorful leaves and flowers have fallen or faded, but we could still find little patches of vivid beauty, like this Dewberry leaf resting on a mound of diverse lichens speckled with scarlet.

These purple-viened Foamflower plants provided a strikingly colorful contrast to the tobacco-brown of the fallen oak and beech leaves.

Oh, look what we found!  A solitary little Bluet, blue as the sky with a sun-yellow center, blooming away in the middle of the path.  What a brave little beauty, still putting forth blooms, even  after several killing frosts.


Carolyn H said...

What lovely views. I wish I'd been hiking this weekend. Instead I was "good" and continued working on cleaning up after Snowtober.

Anonymous said...

What a gift - the bluette! What a good eye to see the subtle shades and tones in the autumn woods! In the lichen, those flecks of red, are those 'british soldiers'?

I think hiking in the autumn leaves is perhaps the most treacherous of excursions. I have fallen more often on dry leaves than on ice or slimy rock.

Keep safe -

Ellen Rathbone said...

How beautiful! I never thought I'd miss living where there's actual elevation change, but I do. Flat land has some good things going for it, but you just don't get views like you do where there are REAL hills and mountains.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks, Carolyn H. You have some pretty nice views, too, from your cabin in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I hope your cleanup goes quickly.

Nice to her from you, hikeagiant. There's quite a mix of Cladonia lichens in that clump, probably including British Soldiers and Lipstick Powderhorn. Be careful hiking on those dry leaves. Yup. VERY slippery!

Oh Ellen, I know what you mean about hills and mountains and their mysterious hold on us. The first time I visited the Adirondacks, I felt their magic. And I grew up in the flat lands of Michigan. Which also have their charm: gently rolling meadows with mist across the grass in the mornings, and rivers that run meandering for miles and miles without any need to portage.