Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ephemerals at Bartholomew's Cobble, Sheffield

Tuesday, we walked in Bartholomew's Cobble in Sheffield. Spring is a wonderful time to visit because of the plentiful spring flowers. They are often called ephemerals because they last such a short time, but we were treated to a great display this week.

Dutchman's Breeches
White Trillium
Round-Lobed Hepatica—can be white, pink, lavender, or blue and we saw them all!
Skunk Cabbage
Purple (Red) Trillium or Wakerobin
Last year, 10 acres of flood plain fields next to the Housatonic were planted with 1,800 trees. The project is restoring species native to a flood plain forest, a habitat almost lost because the land was so valuable for farming.

A variety of species was planted and will need to be watered for two years.
We had lunch at Hurlburt Hill, one of my favorite spots in Berkshire County.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tucson, Arizona

I just spent 10 days in Tucson, Arizona, hiking and exploring the city and environs. What a different ecosystem from the Berkshires! I went with the Appalachian Mountain Club Adventure Travel. These are volunteer-lead trips for hikers. More about them here, then click on More Options. The glorious open views, the wildlife, the sunshine and the wonderful company of other hikers made for a great trip.

Tucson is surrounded by mountain ranges including the Santa Catalinas, the Tucsons and the Santa Ritas. We hiked in these three. We were in the Sonoran Desert which covers much of south-western Arizona, part of southern California and south-western Mexico.

The saguaro cactus, very tall with arms, grows only in the Sonoran Desert and we saw lots of them. You know them from cowboy movies. They are slow growing, reaching 40-60 feet, and are protected in Arizona.

Although desert, the countryside is filled with birds, lizards, snakes, animals, shrubs, cacti, flowers and other species. Each has its own way of adapting to the small amount of water—about 10 inches a year. Fascinating!
Saguaro cactus grows up to 40 ft. tall and when filled with stored water
one specimen was found to weigh 9 tons!
The tiny leaves and beautiful red ocotillo flowers
appear after a rainfall.
Here in the Tucson Mountains, we had views in all directions
on this ridge line trail.
Looking back along the ridge on the way to Wasson Peak, Tucson Mountains.
I loved seeing all the Saguaro Cacti along the trail. 
The large and intensely-colored Prickly Pear Cactus blossom.
Flowers added bright spots of color to the rocky desert landscape. 
Hidden in the crevice of a large boulder was a Western Diamond-Backed Rattlesnake.
He rattled his tail at us and we respected his space!
We tried to avoid the very spiny Chollo Cactus.
Such a different landscape from my Berkshire home!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

End of Winter-Mud Season

I've had some computer problems, I've been away for a few weeks and the trails were ice-covered, muddy and unpleasant. So here are photos from various hikes in the last month of things I found interesting. Spring is here, although today I woke up to 3 inches of snow! I expect it to be gone by tomorrow.

The trail on Monument Mountain (March 27) was covered with thick ice. It was great to be outside, but even with my traction devices, walking was difficult.

I heard the water falling over the rock, but could see only ice.
Thick ice covered most of the trail.
The view at the top was great as always!
It was misty and gray at Bash Bish Falls on March 30. With the rain and spring runoff, the falls were rushing dramatically.

Bash Bish Falls, Mt. Washington.
A rainy day along the Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Copake, NY— April 1.