Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Short Trip to the Adirondacks

Pyramid Lake lay still as glass when I arrived at the Pyramid Life Center on Wednesday morning, and I sure was tempted to instantly throw my canoe in the water and glide across its mirroring surface.  Pyramid Lake is surely one of the gems of the Adirondack wilderness, but I was here to sweep up dead flies and mouse dirt, and otherwise ready around 20 guest rooms in the center's main lodge, as this spiritual retreat center gears up for another summer season.  I volunteer to do these tasks twice a year, at opening and closing, out of gratitude for the many blessings I have found here in this place of exquisite natural beauty, and also among people who seek to experience God's love and share it with the world.

As evening came on and most of my chores were accomplished, I again stood on the shore of the lake and marveled at the splendor before me.  How grateful I am that Pyramid Life Center makes a place of such beauty available to all who would seek its serenity.  Normally, I would seek the serenity of such a glorious evening by paddling across the lake's glassy water.  But now I was just too darned tired from all my day's labors!  Sometimes I do feel every one of my aging 75 years. And also, there were the Black Flies.  Not to mention the mosquitoes.  This time of year, one just doesn't linger long in the Adirondack outdoors.

The Black Flies were so bad this year, I didn't venture into the woods at all.  But I did, for just a few moments, pull on a bug net to stand on the center's entrance road long enough to delight in more Wild Purple Clematis (Clematis occidentalis var. occidentalis) than I've ever seen here before.

And I also sprayed on enough bug repellent to allow me to stand by this glorious waterfall on a nearby stream and experience its thundering torrent.

The banks at the base of the waterfall were a riot of gorgeous mosses and ferns and flowers, including these long-stemmed Marsh Blue Volets (Viola cucullata).

Thursday morning came, and I finished my cleaning chores.  But now it was threatening rain. So I packed up my gear and headed for home, but then decided to take a detour to the Hudson River Recreation Area just north of Warrensburg.  Just a year ago, I found the rare Primrose-leaved Violet  (Viola primulifolia var. primulifolia) along these shores, and I wondered if I might find it again.  The state lists this flower as Threatened, and state botanists were surprised that this violet has found a foothold this far from any other place in the state it has been found.

But sure enough, I found it again!  And many more plants of it than I found last year.

But this section of the Hudson shoreline, a stretch called the Ice Meadows, is home to quite a number of rare plants, including the Dwarf Sand Cherry (Prunus pumila var. depressa), another Threatened species, which today was blooming in marvelous abundance.

Another abundant bloomer along the river today was the spectacular Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).

Most people would never notice this rather scraggly patch of green stuff, but this is a very interesting plant called Selaginella rupestris, or Rock Spike Moss.  It looks like a moss, but it's really more closely related to ferns than to mosses.  I have read that plants of this genus are distinguished by having two different types of spore cones, and I wondered if the tiny yellow dots I could see sprinkled among the scales might be one of those types of spore cone.  When I googled "Selaginella spore cones" I did find an image on Go Botany that looked exactly like these yellow dots.

Here's a closer (although blurrier) image of those yellow spore cones.

I could see a patch of Bearberry's dark green leaves some distance down the shore, but I almost decided not to visit them this spring.  Neither I nor any of my botanical buddies has ever seen a flower in this patch of leaves, so I started to head for my car, as the rain was coming down faster now and I was getting wet.  But oh heck, let's go check one last time, I decided.  And look what I found!  Here and there among the green glossy leaves were these pretty pink-tipped white bells.  I wonder if we had just never thought to look for them this early.  Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is the scientific name.

Of course, I've seen blueberries in bloom many times, but one kind that grows on these Hudson River banks is particularly colorful, with their red-tipped chalcedony-blue bracts and rose-blushed yellow bells.  True to their common name of Hillside Blueberry, they grow up high on the steep banks.  Their scientific name is Vaccinium pallidum.  So pretty! As colorful as confetti.

And WOW, talk about PRETTY!  What could be prettier than the bright purple-pink blooms of Fringed Polygala (Polygala paucifolia) scattered by the hundreds across the forest floor?

OK, those Fringed Polygalas are really pretty.  But they surely have a rival for beauty in the exquisitely elegant Starflowers (Lysimachia borealis) that I noticed blooming in the pine woods as I hurried along the trail toward my car.

I had almost reached my car and its promised refuge from the rain when I drew to a halt to admire these spikes of Mountain Maple flowers (Acer spicatum).  Like the Striped Maple, this species of maple is a small understory tree, but unlike any other maples, Mountain Maple holds its flowers upright and above the leaves.  There's no mistaking this maple when it's in bloom.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures
thanks for sharing

Woody Meristem said...

Beautiful locations and a great collection of photographs of unusual species.

The Furry Gnome said...

After several years of reading your blog, I always think of your time at Pyramid Lake as a very peaceful interlude in your life.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thank you, friends, for stopping by. I am so glad to bring you along with me on my nature adventures. You are absolutely right about Pyramid Lake, Furry Gnome. It is not only a peaceful place, but it also inspires peace I can carry with me wherever I am.