Monday, December 14, 2015

Lake Bonita is muy bonita!

My exploratory walk to Lake Bonita last week was cut way too short by impending sundown, so I just had to return this past weekend to continue my explorations.  This pretty little lake sure lives up to its name (bonita means "pretty" in Spanish), so I feel really happy that it and the forest that surrounds it now belong to Moreau Lake State Park.  Although this property is not yet officially open to the public (there is no safe parking nearby, for one thing), I was pleased to see that flagging for trails has already begun, making it quite easy for me to find my way around the lake.

That flagged trail closely follows the north shoreline of the lake, offering scenic views of the water and the little islands that stud its surface.  On Saturday, when I returned to the lake, the surface was still as glass, perfectly mirroring the sky, those shrubby islands, and the mixed-hardwood/conifer forest that surrounds the lake.

About halfway along the north shore, large boulders jut into the water, offering perfect sitting spots for lingering to enjoy the view.

One of the prettiest views was of this tiny stone cabin that sits at the east end of the lake.  I did not continue my explorations to reach this cabin, but I assumed it was one of the buildings that were included in the state prison property that previously occupied this site.  How wonderful that a property as lovely as this will now be part of a state park and open for all to enjoy, instead of a place for incarceration of criminals.

I did wander off-trail for a bit, following a stream that led to an open wetland deep within the forest.  I look forward to returning in summer to discover what wetland plants might be thriving here.

In the meantime, I could identify a certain number of the plants that are growing along the shore, even after their flowers had long dropped their petals and gone to seed.  These pretty tulip-shaped pods belong to a species of St. Johnswort, most likely Marsh St. Johnswort, which will have small pink flowers in summer.

This plant could be identified by its leaves alone, distinctively those of the shoreline shrub called Leatherleaf.

No leaves remained on this shoreline shrub, but its distinctive cone-like buds immediately identified it as Sweet Gale, a shrub that bears wonderfully fragrant leaves in season.

These spent flower-heads could only be those of the shrub called Steeplebush, which has tight clusters of deep-rose flowers in the summer.

Nestled among the depressions in the shoreline boulders were numerous plants of Pale Corydalis, their clusters of lacy leaves still green despite numerous below-freezing mornings.  Beginning in spring and continuing until late in the fall, these plants will bear dainty bright-pink flowers that are tipped with yellow.

Sharing the boulders with those Pale Corydalis plants were low sprawling shrubs of Low-bush Blueberries, still holding on to the brilliantly colored leaves so distinctive for blueberries.

Many different kinds of beautiful mosses decorate the shore with their vivid greenery that will remain vividly green all winter.  This clump was mostly the ferny-looking Brocade Moss with a few sprouts of the starry-shaped Haircap Moss intruding.

Here's a larger patch of that Haircap Moss, this time curving around a clump of shaggy lighter-green Sphagnum Moss.  I was surprised to find large areas of shoreline densely carpeted with Sphagnum, usually the sign of bog-like conditions, even though I found no evidence of any plants that require an acidic bog habitat.

There's some more moss here, the tiny starry stuff tipped with brown.  I think it may be a species of Atrichum Moss, here being engulfed by the very hairy leaves of Pussytoes.

These were just a few of the jewels in the treasure chest this gorgeous property represents.  How lucky we are,  those of us who love Moreau Lake State Park and partake of its wondrous natural offerings on a regular basis, to have even more of our park to explore and enjoy.  I certainly feel blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the world, with so much unspoiled natural beauty all around me.  This grateful feeling was reinforced by this view of distant mountains that greeted me as I made my way out of the forest that surrounds the muy bonita Lake Bonita.


The Furry Gnome said...

Yes, you are very lucky to have such an interesting State Park nearby!

Unknown said...

Beautiful but where do u park

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

You said it, Furry Gnome! I am lucky indeed to have such a park and its incredible variety of natural habitats. And entry is free for all people this time of year, and during high season old folks like me have free access during the week, thanks to the Golden Pass made available to senior citizens that offers free access to all state park parking areas. Anyone can always walk into the park for free, and the trails along the Hudson are accessible for free always.

Hi, John Breslin, thanks for stopping by. As I mentioned in the copy accompanying my photos, this part of the park is not yet open to the public, and one of the reasons is that there is no safe parking nearby as yet. I parked some distance away and made my way through the woods. I heard a rumor that a parking lot is planned for the future, so best to wait until then before exploring these lands.

Woody Meristem said...

That's a pretty area, another place for you to explore. It's wonderful that there are so many fascinating and beautiful areas that we'd all have to live ten lifetimes to see many of them -- so many choices!