Sunday, October 16, 2016
A Fine Day for a Family Hike
How lucky could we be this week? Not only did our daughter Jane and her husband Bill and our granddaughter Natalie come for a visit this past Saturday, we also had one of the prettiest days of the autumn, with foliage nearing its peak of glorious color. So of course we went for a walk outdoors. And a wonderful walk it was, up an easy-enough mountain in Moreau Lake State Park to enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the Hudson River and miles of forested mountains as far as the eye could see.
From the crowd of cars in the trailhead parking lot, it was obvious that many folks were enjoying this part of the park on this beautiful day. But the miles of trails that are accessed from this trailhead can absorb vast numbers of people at once, and we will still not pass many fellow hikers along the way. Even this spectacular overlook could be shared with other folks and no one felt crowded in on.
As beautiful as the foliage already was, we could see that the glorious spectacle of autumn had only just begun, with many trees -- and not just the conifers -- still vividly green, while others had burst into various shades of chrysanthemum colors.
When I hike with my husband and other family members, I try to keep my botanizing in check. But I couldn't keep myself from calling attention to these "zombie" leaves of Quaking Aspen, their yellowing leaf tissue still marked with swaths of bright green.
I just can't refrain from relating the fascinating tale of the miniature moth larva that resides in a tiny pocket of brown tissue at the base of the green patch, releasing a chemical that prevents the leaf from withdrawing its chlorophyll, so that the larva may continue to feed on living leaf tissue until it is ready to pupate. I remember how astounded I was when I first learned about this phenomenon (go HERE to learn more about it), and I always hope to impart some of the wonder I felt to anyone else who might be amazed.
And again I drew my fellow hikers' attention to one more marvel along the trail, when I led them to a patch of Pink Earth Lichen (Dibaeis baeomyces), which grows in the hardest-packed dirt along the trail. I knew that no one would be likely to notice this wee little lichen unless I pointed it out, because it is so very, very small, so small as to be virtually invisible except to very close examination (or a photo by my camera's macro lens). Those little pink blobs that look like miniature wads of bubble gum are actually hardly bigger than the head of a dressmaker's pin.
After our mountain hike, we took the scenic route home, driving along the Hudson River and then continuing on country roads instead of the interstate. Here, we stopped off by the river for one more family photo. I sure love this dear bunch of people, and I am so glad we shared this beautiful day.