There was just enough snow to beautify the woods, but not enough to warrant snowshoes when I joined my friend Evelyn and others to walk a seasonal road to Crane Mountain in the Adirondacks on Wednesday. We did need our microspikes, however, since the road beneath that white dusting was still thick with slick, hard ice.
Evelyn knows this road and its surroundings very well, since she and her husband and son once lived in a cabin tucked back in the woods near here. I was thinking it would have been a long walk for her son to reach the schoolbus stop a mile or so away, but Evelyn admitted that the family moved to another house closer to the highway once the road to their cabin became impassable in winter. Impassable to cars, of course, but just perfect for a lovely winter's hike on skis or snowshoes. Or microspikes, as the case might be.
The road moved high along the edge of a deep ravine for much of our mile-long walk, and then tapered down to follow the course of a rushing stream. At one point, we could see that a beaver dam had been breached, reportedly to prevent the backed-up pond from flooding the road.
Our destination was an open meadow at the foot of Crane Mountain, the mountain rising high against a sky where snow clouds were vying for dominance with occasional patches of blue. My photos don't show this, but the air was continuously spangled with wafting flakes of snow, prickling our faces rosy and warm from our hiking efforts.
When we reached the meadow, the view of the steep rise of Crane Mountain was breathtaking!
A nearby stream was splashing into a little pool, where the constant spray created a large build-up of ice, with the prettiest fringe of icicles hanging over the open water.
Evelyn and most of our group continued along a ridge trail that would have proved too difficult for me with my weakened knee, but I was happy to return by the road we'd walked in on. Especially since I had for company my good friend Bob Duncan. Bob knows the mosses and liverworts well, a useful thing to know when bryophytes are the only green plants we could find on the boulders that line the road. He was able to promptly correct me when I thought that this Scapania liverwort, pictured below, was a moss. Darn! I should have known!
At least I was able to recognize this ruffly green stuff as a moss, and we both could agree that it was Brocade Moss (Hypnum imponens).
I'm looking forward now to more winter adventures. I understand winter will be back with a vengeance real soon, especially bitter cold temperatures. At least that will harden up the ice on the lakes and ponds, another source of winter pleasures.