Saturday, March 17, 2018

Taking Shelter

I guess it's obvious, from the paucity of my posts of late, that I haven't been getting out into the winter woods this year the way I used to. No climbs this year to porcupine caves or up to spectacular overlooks high on mountain ledges.   It's been almost three years since I smashed my kneecap, and instead of getting better as I expected it would, the pain continues to increase.  Several times this winter, I've set out on snowshoes and have been halted by pain, worried that I might not be able to make my way back to my car. So of course I'm more eager than ever to say goodbye to the snow.  But I guess it will still be a while.

Lots of snow remains up at Moreau Lake State Park, where I went yesterday, hoping to cheer myself with a walk.  Preferably, without snowshoes.  Hah!  Fat chance!

I thought I might walk on the frozen lake, where the snow is not so deep, but recent warmish weather has rendered the lake ice unsafe.  (No swimming allowed there, yet, either!)

Luckily, much of the perimeter road has been plowed, so I set off to walk this clear path as far as it would take me, just to enjoy the views of the lake and breathe in the sweet cold air.

Unfortunately, a fierce wind kept driving that cold air against my numbing cheeks and into my aching ears, so I soon sought shelter in the park's warming hut, a cozy cabin at the south end of the lake, warmed by a roaring fire.

This cabin has been a welcome haven for winter-chilled hikers, skiers, snowshoers, and ice fishermen ever since it opened in November, 2010, but today I had the place all to myself.

This cozy book corner, stocked with lots of nature books (including many designed for children), is furnished with plenty of reading light as well as a comfy couch.

The hut contains a number of educational exhibits, such as this collection of animal pelts, accompanied by a list of animal names and a challenge to try to name which pelt belongs to which animal.  Right next to these pelts is a collection of labeled specimens from all the trees we might find in the  surrounding forest, revealing both exterior bark and interior pith and grain.

This slice of a tree trunk was another fascinating display, featuring pins placed at individual tree rings, each pin site labeled according to the date the tree ring was formed.

On the table alongside were informational sheets accompanying this tree slab, revealing historical events that took place during the growth of this tree, starting in 1879 and concluding with 1998, the year the tree was felled.  Here are a couple of examples:

Walking back to my car, I noticed these sap-collecting buckets attached to a Sugar Maple.  Park staffers told me they had collected about 40 gallons of sap so far, which should yield one gallon of maple syrup.

I think it will take quite a while to boil all that sap down, since the pot they are using has a rather limited evaporating surface.  But it makes for a fun display just outside of the park headquarters, where I found recently appointed park intern Elizabeth Bertolini checking on the level.

Before joining the park staff in January, Elizabeth had been involved in marine projects on the North Carolina coast, a much warmer habitat than what she has encountered so far at Moreau Lake State Park, where she will serve until next November. I can hardly wait to show her some of my favorite wildflower sites at Moreau when spring's warmth finally comes to these shores.  I regret that it may be a while.


Uta said...

I love the pictures you always have and I hope you don't mind that I use some of them on my computer screen. I love to look at them when I turn my computer on and see something different in them. Thank you.

threecollie said...

I share your frustration! I made it most of the way down the driveway this of my best spots for birds...because the mud was frozen. So cold though! It seems as if we have been seeing snow textures that are like we experienced when we were kids. The crust right now is strong enough to hold me up easily and I am hardly a little wispy thing. lol Here's to better days and something green besides the beer!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Uta, you are most welcome to post my photos on your computer screen. I love knowing that you do, and I sure do appreciate your kind words.

I'm with you, threecollie, hoping for warmer days and something green besides the beer (ha ha!). One of the ways I get through these cold springs is to enjoy your blog and the many wonderful ways you report on your surroundings.

Woody Meristem said...

Winter's hanging on in spite of the warm weather of the last few weeks and today. Just got back from several hours north of you where we watched about 30 inches of snow fall in two days.

Wayne said...

Sorry about the knee pain. I hope you and the medics can find a way to improve your mobility. Thanks for the warming hut tour. I have not been inside in the last three years or so. I'll have to check out all the exhibits. By the way, is it the weight of snowshoes that causes problems for you? Last week I walked around the lake, and never took the snowshoes off my pack because I stuck to the beaten trails, which were packed so well that nobody else I saw had any kind of traction/floatation aids (I used microspikes just in case).