Saturday, October 19, 2013

Following the Yellow Beech Trail

It's called the Western Ridge Trail, the trail that Sue and Laurie and I hiked on Friday in Moreau Lake State Park.  If you study the full-color map provided by the park, it's the yellow trail that follows a mountain ridge that runs for six miles or so, up and down through woods high above the Hudson River.  And yellow was certainly the predominant color now, with mostly the beeches still holding on to their sunshine-colored leaves, filling the forest with golden light, even in the deepest shade.  A few Red Maples still held some leaves, but even these were mostly yellow, although we found evidence all over the forest floor that some of the maples had once held the brilliant scarlet foliage this tree is famous for.

This fallen log provided another bright splash of color from the Turkey Tail fungus and Green Shield lichens colonizing its moss-covered length.

We found long stretches of bedrock covered with green-velvet mosses of many different kinds.  We were grateful to have Laurie, who is a geologist,  point out to us the different kinds of rocks that underlie this mountainous forest, and we noted how different species of moss were growing on the different kinds of rocks, whether composed of granitic gneiss or quartzite or marble.  I confess that I could identify only a few of the mosses.  (Note that we are wearing blaze orange, now that hunting season has begun.)

 Here's one moss I think I know the name of, the starburst-shaped ones called Atrichum undulatum surrounding the tiny red mushroom that could be a Scarlet Waxcap.

Talk about tiny!  None of us had ever seen a Red Eft so itty bitty as this fingernail-sized cutie wriggling along on the same clump of moss as the normal-sized eft next to it.

The bears should be fat and happy going to winter rest this year, to judge from the massive numbers of nuts we found throughout the woods.  We found Pignut Hickory nuts now shedding their thin green husks, as well as thousands of bristly-husked beechnuts popped open and releasing the tasty morsels within.  We filled our pockets with the little wedge-shaped nuts, peeling and eating them as we strode along.

We didn't hike the full length of the trail, choosing a destination only a couple of miles from the trailhead. We started at the high end of the trail to minimize the amount of climbing we would have to do to reach a spectacular overlook, although the hike did require a certain amount of huffing and puffing up steep slopes and carefully picking our way down rocky ones.  Here we are, about to take our final steps to a rocky outcropping that will grant us glorious views of the Hudson valley.

Yes.  Glorious views, indeed!

That's the Spier Falls Dam on the far left, with the Luzerne Mountain range beyond the forest across the river.

Here's the view directly below where we sat to enjoy a picnic lunch.  Except for the dam site and the powerline clearcuts, plus a state road that runs close to the river, Moreau Lake State Park owns the land on both banks of the river here, so all that forest and river shoreline will remain in its naturally beautiful state for generations to come.

The Hudson flows in a northeasterly direction along this stretch, heading toward Glens Falls and Hudson Falls, where it will take a sharp turn to flow directly south to New York City and the sea.


Raining Iguanas said...

Oh, thank you for bringing us along. So many things to do and not enough Saturdays to do them on. I want so badly to get up there before the color is completely gone. You served up the perfect post card for sharing. Your photos will hold me over.

The Cranky Crone, she lives alone! said...

Who needs 'Attenbrough' when we have you!

The Furry Gnome said...

Looks like spectacular colour for a beautiful walk.

Benj said...

I've only hiked the first mile or so of that trail, starting from the trailhead near the beginning of Spier Falls road. Looks like I'll need to explore a bit more of it next time!

Michael Asbell said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

This was my first visit and I was interested, at first, in the template you were using, and then the photography since that is also one of my interests. I am blessed with fields of corn, brown now with leaves stiff like somebody starched them, and the rattling sounds they make in the slightest breeze. The only water we have is in a creek with a wow name: "Wolf Creek," is not much of a river and is often less than a creek but it flows fast and is deep when it is flooded. Our breathless hike is uphill on Market Street, Main Street or Hay Avenue. It is all downhill once you get to the top where the remaining businesses are located. You are a good writer and photographer and kept my interest.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Dear readers, I do thank you for your kind comments. Some days I can't believe my good fortune that I live in such a beautiful part of the country, and it gives me great joy to share its beauty with you. I also love clicking on your names and reading your own blogs and websites. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Stunning photographs and informative post
I'm going to pass the hike to my hiking son. Maybe next year I'll see the view in person (and have a guilt trip I'd like to live on that rock).

Unknown said...

Stunning! Gorgeous! The tiniest of Efts among the moss is precious.. Also appreciated the insight about moss type and rock type..Well, duh! So easy once someone points it out :-)

Virginia said...

Another beautiful hike to Moreau! Wow. Is the work on the power lines finished? Last year, we could only do a through-hike on the Western Ridge trail in the winter. Thanks.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Virginia, the work continues on the power lines, but sometimes they let people through the work area, especially on weekends when the workers are off duty. We started at the higher end of the Western Ridge Trail and hiked for a couple of miles, then returned partly by the same trail, but taking another loop (with red disks) that brought us back to the parking area by a third trail. If you have a trail map, there's lots of great areas to explore, even when parts of Western Ridge are off-limits.