Thursday, March 14, 2013

Winter Punches Back

I spoke too soon about Spring inching in, yesterday.  Winter came punching back today, with temps in the teens, a bitter wind, and even a quick blast of snow.  But I'd agreed to join a hiking group tthis morning, up in the Adirondacks near Riparius, so I bundled up in my extra-warm longjohns and headed north.  I'd been invited to join a chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club on a hike through some old-growth woods, to act as a naturalist-consultant in case we saw something interesting along the trail, and so I had to show  up.  And I'm glad I did.  By the time we started our hike, the sun was peeking through the clouds, and deep in the woods we hardly felt the wind.  As this photo shows, there's a lot more snow about 40 miles north of Saratoga Springs.




Our trail led through state forest land that hadn't been logged for well over a hundred years, so we passed under some really towering pines of substantial girth.




Our ultimate goal was a section of the Hudson River called Race Horse Rapids, but before we could get there we had to cross a stream that is usually just a trickle we could hop across.  But not today.  Heavy rains on Tuesday and melting temperatures up until yesterday had swollen the stream to a depth and width that seemed impassable.




We explored several stretches of stream bank, hoping to find a narrow spot where we could cross over.  Here's Rick showing us the spot he'd found.   I wish I had followed him to begin with, for just as he hollered he'd found this spot, I plunged through an ice shelf up to one thigh, filling one boot to overflowing with icy water.  I'm very grateful that these ADKers always come prepared for emergencies and had packed dry socks and a plastic bag they could lend me to replace my soaking socks.  Otherwise, my hike would have been over, except for a freezing mile or so back to my car.




With my foot now dried I could continue our hike to one of the prettiest spots on the Hudson River, a long stretch of rapids through high rocky forested banks.  We found a sunny spot out of the wind and sat on the rocks to eat our lunches.
As we sat there, we spied a long dark animal racing along the bank across the river.  I thought it was a mink, while others suggested otter.  But before we could study it carefully, it disappeared into the woods.  Smallish otter or largish mink, it was wonderful to see it. 

As for my naturalist duties, I was able to point out a few mosses and lichens and liverworts along the trail, and here on the riverbank, I plucked a few pieces of Sweet Fern and demonstrated its fragrance to my companions.  This is one of the commonest trailside plants to be found in the Adirondacks, so it surprised me that none of my friends today had ever enjoyed breathing it in.

9 comments:

Uta said...

What a wonderful artistic picture, good enough for framing. Thank you for your wonderful pictures.

catharus said...

A lovely outing! Nah, you didn't speak too soon yesterday; that's the nature of March -- the push-pull of winter and spring.

June said...

If I had gotten a bootful of icy water, I would have just lay down to die. You are truly made of stern stuff.

threecollie said...

You are a thousand times more intrepid than I!!

Woodswalker said...

Thanks, Uta. Glad you enjoy the photos. I just can't stop taking pictures of all the wonderful stuff that surrounds us.

You're right, catharus. And up here in northern NY, that push-pull goes on well into May sometimes.

I'm not really that tough, June. I just wear clothes that stay warm even when wet, like wool or polar fleece. But I was very, very grateful that my fellow hikers had socks to spare.

Oh, threecollie, you who can manage a dairy farm and all its laborious and even dangerous tasks, are far more intrepid than I! Taking a walk in the woods can't really compare with pushing thousand-pound stubborn cattle around.

Raining Iguanas said...

Whoa what a memory you reignited. My father and I hiked in there when I was about ten (1965). I caught the most beautiful trout I had ever see. I got it up to the rocks and it slapped it's tail and waved good by. On one hand it broke my heart, on the other it made it soar. I'll take the latter any day...

Woodswalker said...

Raining Iguanas, what a wonderful memory! Thanks for stopping by to tell us about it.

James Maughan said...

Horse Race Rapids is a beautiful spot from the river, though I've never seen it from the bank or in the winter. thanks.

James Maughan said...

Horse Race rapids is a beautiful spot from the river as well, though I've never seen it from the bank, or in the winter. Thanks for posting.