8.10.2008

The northern (rain) forest & clouds moving in


Clouds & more rain moving in, 08/10/08 from JG on Vimeo.
Despite the ominous atmosphere of this short clip, this weekend actually turned out much nicer than forecast, with Saturday being a great day and most of Sunday being quite dry. I will be traveling next week so I took advantage of a lack of commitments to get up very early (4:30 am) so as too be able to start hiking at 5:45 am by the reservoir.

This image does not convey how wet things are in the woods: It's like a rain forest, with water running everywhere, the understory is covered in ferns and other succulents, and a pervasive muddy, humid stickyness, even in the 'dry' spots of on the trail.

I was in the woods so early because dawn/early morning is probably the best time of day to see wildlife. As I was hiking in through the foggy early morning light, I saw some deer feeding (nothing too unusual in that); then a humming bird was feeding very close to me as a picked my way through a clearing overgrown with honeysuckle, and then I came upon three bull moose feeding in an old clearcut. I wasn't able to get any photos of the moose encounter because this was at about 6:45 am and it was still quite dark in the woods. Also I don't know if these moose were agitated before I showed up or if my presence disturbed them, because they moved off in a hurry, charging loudly through the woods.

With all the rain and the succession of damp sunless days, the woods are full of strange mushrooms and fungi, a mycological wonderland.


It's not too visible in this image but there is the track of what I think is a bobcat (or a catamount? -- the print is not canine) -- I tried to heighten the contrast to make it more evident. The thing about this print was, that I saw it as I was hiking out, and it was very fresh. I don't think it was there as I hiked in... meaning the cat came out after I went by the first time. Bobcats are very reclusive so it would be more exciting than scary to encounter one. But that's my boot print as a size comparison (roughly 8 1/2 men's shoe), so this was a pretty good sized animal.

I will try some variations of this hike in the fall before the start of hunting season, as the days get shorter, getting into the woods at dawn becomes relatively easier. I have looked for bear sign on my hikes but haven't seen any recently... I need to start scoping out some beech stands, beech nuts are big source of food for the bears (so I have read) in the fall.

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