Thursday, October 10, 2019

Paddling a Paradise of Vibrant Color on Lens Lake

As of yet, the fall foliage around my home in Saratoga Springs is looking rather muted. Growing impatient to be wowed by this annual spectacle of vibrant color, I headed north up to Lens Lake in Warren County on Wednesday afternoon, in search of where the season might be more advanced.  And when I got to this secluded Adirondack lake, was I wowed by autumn color?  Oh yeah! You betcha!

The mountains that surround the lake were covered in a crazy quilt of vibrant color.

In addition to its beauty, a remarkable feature of Lens Lake is the amount of floating bog mat that covers its waters. These bog mats are like vast meadows composed of Sphagnum Moss, with acres of Cottongrass blowing in the breeze, each cottony tuft bobbing and swaying as if to a music it alone could hear.

The Sphagnum grows in multiple shades of gold and red, as colorful as any Persian carpet.

Here, a patch of golden moss was "peopled" by baby Northern Pitcher Plants of a deep, rich scarlet .

This quartet of orange mushrooms had sprung from a solid carpet of red moss.

I've been paddling on Lens Lake every year since 2011, and each year I have to find a different route to reach the far end of the lake, since the bog mats are not grounded and slowly move into new positions every year. When I reached a place where my passage was blocked unless I took a wide detour, I decided to head back toward my launch site and explore some quiet backwaters near where I'd put in.

Here in these quiet bays, the water is very shallow, with many old tree stumps and fallen logs serving as nursery beds for abundant numbers of beautiful plants.

The tree that produced this ancient stump must surely have been a giant!

Another old stump was now overgrown with Leatherleaf shrubs, Large Cranberry vines, and one magnificent Northern Pitcher Plant.

This fallen log was now home to a multi-colored garden of Large Cranberry, Marsh St. Johnswort, Northern Pitcher Plants, some Red Maple saplings, a few Leatherleaf shrubs and one juvenile White Pine. (I think there's a little Spotted Alder in there, too.)

The cranberries that grew on this log were covered with a bloom that turned the brilliant red berries a distinctive shade of purple.

A few shrubs of Labrador Tea have found their niche among the general thickets of Leatherleaf, Sweet Gale, and Sheep Laurel that populate the shores of Lens Lake.  And this time of year, the Labrador Tea produces terminal buds of the prettiest pink.  Tucked inside these scaled buds are  clusters of flowers, safely protected from winter's cold until spring's warmth beckons them into bloom.

Tall White Pines reach for the sky along the shore, with thickets of now-scarlet blueberry bushes clustered at their feet.

The ride back home continued to delight me with scenes like this, from Roaring Brook Road as it descends toward the village of Stony Creek.

And I also had to stop to admire the beauty of this historic bow bridge where it crosses the turbulent Sacandaga River at Hadley, near where the Sacandaga joins the Hudson River at Lake Luzerne.


Woody Meristem said...

What a beautiful lake, the colors must have been at their best when you were there.

virginiabt28 said...

I have been to Lens Lake, but it appears larger in your description that I remember. I wonder if I missed parts of it. I remember seeing the pitcher plants in bloom. I also remember my father paddling away in his own world and me watching to make sure he didn't get too far away. Thank you for very fascinating pictures of colors and plants that make me want to go back, with peak foliage of course! I especially love your purple cranberries.