Today was delightful: warm but not hot, breezy but no gales, sunny but with a few clouds to make the sky more interesting. And I had time to go for a paddle before my normal Thursday-afternoon grocery run. The Hudson River beckoned me, and this time to head upstream above the Spier Falls Dam, a remarkably different shoreline than where I usually put in below the dam.
Here, the Hudson runs about due south, and I chose the west bank to paddle close to, enjoying the cool afternoon shade and the beautiful fern-lined shore, with a hemlock-dark forest rising steeply above the bouldered banks.
The presence of Maidenhair Fern indicated there might be marble among the rocks that crowded the shore.
Giant boulders had tumbled down from the heights above, and the quiet water near the shore reflected the rocky, woodsy, ferny, mossy beauty of the banks.
The water itself offered much to observe, including large patches of this gracefully curvaceous, bright-green, translucent-leaved aquatic plant called Clasping-leaved Pondweed (Potamogeton perfoliatus).
Here's a closer look at one of the tiny floating female flowers of Wild Celery:
Here was an unexpected surprise, the budding flowers of Small Floating Bladderwort (Utricularia radiata) held aloft on its raft of inflated stems, trailing its underwater structures holding hundreds of tiny sacs that this plant uses to trap tiny organisms to feed on. Over the years, I have found many of these interesting plants some miles downstream, but this is the furthest upstream I have ever seen them. This particular bladderwort is rated as a Threatened species in New York, but it certainly seems to thrive in uncountable numbers in the Hudson River.
When I paddle the Hudson below the Spier Falls Dam, I am always struck by the number and variety of beautiful summer wildflowers that grow there. I was beginning to wonder why I was seeing so few summer flowers along these banks when this showy patch of Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) caught my eye. Aha! Some flowers at last!
That patch of Pickerelweed alerted me that I would soon come upon a small cove of shallow water, where a trio of some of our most typical wetland species had found a happy home. The tallest of those plants, called Soft-stemmed Rush (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani), held clusters of light-brown inflorescences atop gracefully arching green stems.
Even though Sweet Flag is not a native plant in North America, I find it a very interesting one. And I don't find it very often, either. This is only the second place I have come across it, both times while paddling the Hudson River in the stretch that flows between Corinth and Glens Falls.
Back when I could paddle, seeing a Cardinal flower in the shadows was always a highlight.
I prefer that direction for a more wild feel.
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