Thursday, February 19, 2015

Outdoors at Last!

Sunshine!  Blue sky!  Warm!  Well . . .  sorta warm. Way below zero when I got up, but by noon on Wednesday it was close to 20 degrees and, most important, NO WIND!  I could get out for a walk at last!  I felt like I'd been sprung from prison when I strapped on my snowshoes and trekked down to the Hudson shore at the boat-launch site below Spier Falls.

And trek was the word for it -- meaning, a difficult journey.  Even though it's only a hundred yards or so from the parking lot to the Hudson shore, that snow was DEEP!

My snowshoes sank in a least a foot, so it made for rather slow going.  And quite a bit of huffing and puffing.  I hadn't been out hiking for too many days.  Darn, but it doesn't take long to get out of shape.!

When I reached the shore and found the river solidly frozen over, I decided to save my energy the way the coyotes did, by traveling on the ice where the snow lay only a few inches deep.  I don't know if these tracks are those of a single animal retracing its route several times, or if the creature was joined by traveling companions, but I was happy to stride along the same route, enjoying that lovely blue sky, dazzling snow, and the view of forested mountains.

I amused myself trying to identify the trees hanging over the bank, and I was especially delighted to find the brilliantly colored twigs of many Striped Maples.  As colorful as a Milk Snake!

I walked as far as to where I knew a creek spilled into the river.  Although the creek was frozen solid and hidden under several feet of snow, I knew I'd reached my destination when I saw a cluster of Leatherwood shrubs on the riverbank.  This is a shrub that usually indicates the presence of lime in its soil, and it's quite unusual to find it growing along the river, where the rocks tend to be granitic, rather than limestone or marble.  A rocky mountainside rises steeply behind where these shrubs are growing,  so perhaps there are marble boulders among them, leeching their calcareous minerals into the surrounding soils.

This is one of the boulders that appears to have toppled down from the heights above.  I remember finding it covered with Red Trillium and Hepatica in spring, two wildflowers I often find in forests with limey substrates, although they can thrive in neutral soils as well.

While exploring this site, I chanced upon the tracks laid down be an earlier snowshoer, so I was grateful to have my route eased as I made my way back to my car by walking through the woods.  Almost there, I stopped to enjoy the music of another snow-covered creek, only this one had a few little pools of visibly  -- and audibly -- open water.  At each of these open sites, numerous animal tracks were in evidence, as the woodland creatures sought out one of the very few places to drink that was not frozen solid this bitter winter.  As for me, I was rosy warm by now, and glad to sit in the snow to rest, enchanted by the muffled silence of the snowy woods, the only sound the cheerful gurgle of this little creek rushing among the rocks.


The Furry Gnome said...

So glad you got out. It's been a really difficult winter for getting out, just too bitterly cold. Yesterday was not too bad, but today is -29 and a forecast windchill of -35. I just wish some normal nice sunny -5 weather would get here soon!

DennisseTiu said...

that was a beautiful place... I love outdoors too, it makes me feel relax..
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lisa said...

I love that last picture.