Every autumn, we here in northeastern New York wonder, "Will we have spectacular foliage colors this year?" Some years we do; some years we don't. Well, I think this year might be one to remember as truly terrific. A friend had sent me photos from Lens Lake up in Warren County, photos that urged me to get up there to enjoy the show while the colors were at their peak. As I drove up the mountain road from the tiny village of Stony Creek to the lake, it became very clear that I was in for a treat!
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Autumn's Glory at Lens Lake
Another treat was finding I had the whole lake to myself. That's my lone car in the parking lot, and there wasn't another boat on the lake the whole time I was there.
Lens Lake is a long, rather narrow lake with a very convoluted shoreline. A few cottages exist along that shore, but all are hidden back in the woods and few signs of human habitation can be seen from the water. A very low speed limit is imposed on all watercraft, so no jet skis or speeding powerboats roil the lake's quiet waters. Acres and acres of floating bog mats dot the lake's surface, and mountain heights surround the lake on every side. And on this day, every one of those mountain heights displayed a crazy quilt of magnificent colors!
When I lowered my eyes from the mountain heights, I was treated to equally colorful scenes along the shore, thanks mostly to the brilliant leaves of blueberry shrubs and birch and maple saplings.
The bog mats, too, offered their own special beauty, beginning with the white tufts of cottongrass swaying in the breeze.
For exploring the narrow channels among the bog mat, it sure helps to have a canoe as small as mine!
The bog mats are carpeted with sphagnum mosses of many colors, including the rich gold seen here providing a foil for the scarlet leaves of a large Pitcher Plant.
Some very tiny gold-colored mushrooms had sprouted up from a thick carpet of scarlet sphagnum. A couple of tufts of a golden sphagnum had popped up, too.
In the shallower waters of the lake, fallen logs and moss-covered hummocks supported a wonderful variety of colorful plants. This particular log held the bright-yellow spikes of Bog Lycopodium and some coral-colored leaves of Marsh St. John's Wort.
On this hummock covered with gold-colored sphagnum, more stems of Marsh St. John's Wort had found a home.
Here's a closer look at the intensely colored leaves and the deep-scarlet seed pods of Marsh St. John's Wort.
I loved the sculptural shapes some bleached and twisted tree roots acquire after many years of weathering and immersion, the old wood achieving a silvery patina. A large mound of richly colored sphagnum had found a home on this particular stump.
I was struck by the swirling curvaceous beauty of this twisted old stump, made doubly more exquisite by its reflection in the still water. Gray-green lichens and a colorful shrub had sprouted from the ancient wood.
The fertilized flowers of Fragrant Water Lilies had long been pulled down by their stems to burrow in the muddy lake bottom. But a few Yellow Pond Lilies still held their spent blooms at the water's surface, displaying this golden disc, which had earlier been hidden within the flower.
I did hear the plaintive call of a loon, the quintessential music of an Adirondack lake. But I never did see the bird itself. I did, however, see this solitary Canada Goose standing, all by itself, at the edge of the shore. It struck me as odd, to see this single goose apart from the flocks I now see winging their Vs across the sky, heading south. I wondered if something was wrong with it, preventing it from taking wing.
Just one year ago, I had come upon this Common Merganser family perched on a boulder, and I wondered if I might see them (or their cousins) again this year.
And so I did! Quite a few more Mergansers, in fact, although not posed quite so prettily as they had done last year. But still, I was glad to see them as I paddled into the cove where I would go ashore, so happy that I had made the trip up here to this beautiful lake, during this most beautiful season of all.
As I made my way back down the mountain, every turn in the road offered yet another vista of autumn's glory!