The leader of our group of friends called The Thursday Naturalists put out a call for walk leaders this month, so I pondered what kind of walk I might offer. Most of our flowering plants are now in decline, and not everyone is all that excited by bryophytes or tree barks. Then it struck me: How about a walk where we could taste many of the mineral waters that made Saratoga Springs famous? So I went out to the Saratoga Spa State Park this week to preview a walk (now scheduled for 10/21) that could be both beautifully woodsy as well as refreshing.
I always like to begin my walk at the Spa by heading down the Ferndell Ravine, a delightfully woodsy walk that follows a tiny tumbling creek.
We could even find some native plants growing along this trail, and some are just as lovely in fruit as they were in flower. This White Baneberry certainly proves my point.
The trail down the Ferndell Ravine leads out to a grassy picnic area along the Geyser Creek. This carved stone basin was installed only recently (last year?) and piped to deliver spring water to thirsty picnickers. The mineral deposits from the spring water have contributed to accretions on the stone that make the basin appear to have stood at this site for years.
We can hear the rushing water of Geyser Creek as we approach the creekside trail that will lead us along its course.
This creekside trail attracts many weekend visitors, and many of them stop to gaze with astonishment at this huge mound of mineral accretions, called a "tufa", which has developed over years and years from deposits left by the mineral water flowing from a spring high up on the bluff.
It's up here that we will encounter the spring whose waters flow over the bank to create that enormous tufa. The name of this spring, Orenda, is a word that means a divine force believed by the Iroquois people to be the source of all positive human accomplishment. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all the peoples of the world could be so transformed by drinking the waters of this spring? One could only hope! This is actually my favorite spring of all, its cold waters delightfully tingly with carbonation, and with a refreshingly mild flavor. My friend Sue Pierce has offered to bring enough little plastic glasses so that all our friends can partake, if they so wish.