Thursday, August 10, 2017

Exploring a (Kind of) Boggy Shore

After I posted an entry about a recent paddle on Archer Vly near Lake Desolation, a friend wrote to tell me about a second pond, West Vly, that lies within the same area.  And this one, he told me, is full of bog plants.  BOG PLANTS?!  Oh boy, that's all a wildflower nut like me needs to hear! So off I went with my little canoe to see what West Vly had to offer.

I immediately saw that this was quite a different pond than the rocky-edged Archer Vly, where the forest crowded its shore and shaded its banks.  This pond lay far more open, with wide sedge marsh and mudflats along its shore.  And right away, I saw this White Beak Sedge (Rynchospora alba) waving among the tall grasses, and guessed that the vegetation here would be as different as the two ponds appeared.

As soon as I set off to paddle around the pond, I noticed this submerged log that was crowned with a clump of vegetation, including the ruby-budded stems of Marsh St. John's Wort (Hypericum virginicum).

A closer look revealed the glistening red leaves of Spatulate Sundew (Drosera intermedia), along with just a few of its tiny white flowers.

I continued until I reached one end of the long pond, where an extensive beaver dam held the water back from plunging down a rocky stream.  Here, the forest was dark with conifers, including the typical bog denizens, Eastern Larch  (Larix laricina) and Black Spruce (Picea mariana).

Along this quiet shore, clusters of Fragrant Water Lilies (Nymphea odorata) floated on the dark water.

Another aquatic plant that shared these quiet waters was Water Shield (Brasenia schreberi), with small pink flowers held erect above its oval floating leaves.

Tucked back in among the Leatherleaf shrubs and mixed sedges, a couple of the big green flowers of Northern Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea) emerged from the jumble of vegetation.

Paddling across the open water, I headed toward a far shore I could see was rimmed with red along its muddy shallows.

The red plants turned out to be more of the Spatulate Sundew, which formed dense sparkling carpets.  And studding those ruby-red carpets were the slender stems of Yellow-eyed Grass (Xyris montana), each stem topped with a single, small, yellow, three-petaled bloom.

The pond was so shallow here, I kept having to push myself along with my paddle.  Concerned with trying to make forward progress, I almost missed seeing this muddy clump that was writhing with the snaky stems of Bog Club Moss (Lycopodiella inundata).

I soon moved into deeper waters that provided easier paddling, and next headed into a broad sedge marsh.

Tucked in among the sedges, I saw the only bladderwort flower I would see the entire day, a single Flat-leaved Bladderwort (Utricularia intermedia) with its distinctive bloom that is striped with fine red lines.

As I moved deeper into the marsh, I encountered a vast expanse where Tawny Cottongrass (Eriophorum virginicum) was dancing and weaving, each cottony tuft atop its slender stem appearing to be moving to its own music.  Since the presence of Cottongrass is usually a sign of a sphagnum peat mat, I searched for a way to climb onto this mat and look for other plants that are typical of a peatland.  But I never found any mat firm enough to support my weight.  It was all very watery.

A bit disappointed that I had not encountered a true bog mat, but still pleased that I'd found some of the vegetation typically found in acidic peatlands, I headed back across the lake, hoping I'd be able to find the place where I'd launched my canoe.  I'd neglected to note any landmarks that distinguished where the trail from the parking area led to the water's edge, and from out here on the pond, the shoreline looked very uniform all the way around.

But then I heard shots ringing out.  Someone was shooting a shotgun.  Over and over again.  I found that a bit disconcerting, sure, but at least the blasts were coming from the direction I needed to head.  And indeed, I did find my put-in place.  (Thankfully, by then the shooting had stopped!)  I should have known I would easily find it, because it was visibly littered with trash.  The same folks who come to the shores of this pond for fishing or hunting or target shooting also leave their litter all over the place, including their empty bait boxes and spent shotgun shells.  It is absolutely beyond me how folks could care so little about this beautiful land.  Unfortunately, I guess it takes all kinds!


Nancy Peterson said...

You write so descriptively, I feel like I accompanied you on this trip around and across the pond !!!

Jeff Nadler said...

A moose was seen at this Vly in May! I am disgusted with the use of this area for target practice and leaving their sh!t around. The next time I see a forest ranger on the road, I am going to inquire about these pigs. Hunters are the first to complain about being singled out but looking at this place enforces their reputation.

The Furry Gnome said...

Well, ignoring that last photo, that sounds like a botanically fascinating paddle! Wish I had a bog to explore near here!

Woody Meristem said...

Neat looking place and probably worth another trip earlier in the year.

Adirondackcountrygal said...

I've hiked in to this vly a couple times. The water level was very low last time I was there. I'm going in armed with boots this time!