Monday, October 20, 2014

Greenport Conservation Area, Greenport, New York

The Greenport Conservation Area is 650 acres of former farmland along the Hudson River with amazing views of the river and the Catskill Mountains. There are 5 miles of wide paths through fields and woods. North of this property is more adjacent public lands with a 2-mile trail to Harrier Hill where the views are panoramic.

The land is so different from the Berkshires even though it's only a half hour away. The mountains are larger, the river is larger, the fields are larger, the sky is larger and the views are longer. It's expansive while the Berkshires are intimate. I love both! It's good to get out and notice the difference and appreciate each. 

This gazebo is all-accessible and has wonderful views.
The Hudson River and the Catskills beyond are spectacular. 
This is a monumental old white oak
among mostly young trees.
Although evergreen trees have needles all year, in the fall the lower needles
 turn yellow and fall off, making a golden carpet under the trees.
A remaining silo at Harrier Hill is a reminder that this property was farmland.
The seating, some even covered here at Harrier Hill,
provides comfortable spots to enjoy the view.
Milkweed seeds are food for the birds and the plants
are habitat for Monarch butterflies.
I'll have to come back in the summer to see the butterflies!
Many of the paths are wide and some are all-accessible.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Appalachian Trail, Benedict Pond to Tyringham

Fall is such an amazing time to hike! (But then what season isn't?)

The colorful leaves, which last less than a month and sometimes only a week, to me are always startling in their intensity, year after year. Yes, some autumns the leaves are brighter than others, but always, every year, I find brilliance that surprises me. This year seems to be to be one of those extra bright years although it's possible I say that every year.

Last week on the Appalachian Trail, we started at Benedict Pond in Beartown State Forest in Great Barrington, and walked to Tyringham's Main Road. The trail traverses a variety of habitats and terrain including forests and farmland, the lake, beaver dam and streams and Tyringham Cobble. It also includes some remains of a Shaker settlement.

Witch Hazel blooms in the late fall.  An astringent made from the stems,
leaves and bark was used by the Native Americans
and is still available in the drug store today.
Benedict Pond was a mirror in the early morning.
We met a wonderful thru-hiker; Slow 'n' Steady was her trail name.
She has an online journal and intends to write a book
when she completes the trail.
There is a large beaver pond along the trail.
The beavers had three dams creating three tiers of ponds.
The highest dam raised the water level about six feet.
This is a major engineering project!
Remember the spring flower, Jack-in-the-Pulpit?
These bright red berries are its fruit.
No cows today in this field, but they had been there not too long ago!
The wonderful fall asters. This one is a New York Aster.
I always love the view of the Tyringham church
and cemetery from Tyringham Cobble.
This Hobble Bush leaf displayed many colors!
Here is the more usual Hobble Bush leaf color
The Tyringham Valley has been farm land since the early 1700s,
and some of it still is.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sages Ravine & Mt. Race, Mt. Washington State Forest

Wednesday, we hiked 10 miles on a beautiful section of the Appalachian Trail. We started at the Undermountain Trailhead (on Rte 41), walked up to the Paradise Lane Trail to the AT. Then we walked down into and through Sages Ravine and up along the ridge to Mt. Race and down the Racebrook Falls Trail. The micro-views of rocks, greenery and the river with its small falls in Sages Ravine are amazing. Then the rock ledges up to Mt. Race provide awesome easterly views. I will be doing this again soon!

Flat rocks along the Paradise Lane Trail provide a view of Bear Mountain.
Some people say that this is the most beautiful section of the AT!
One of many little waterfalls and pools along the ravine.
These Poly Pody and Wood ferns were growing right out of this tree trunk.
And the tree was still living and had leaves on it!
I loved this view of the red maples in the swamp below and Twin Lakes beyond.
The ledges provide a great view for a long section along the ridge.
The top of Mt. Race with scrub oaks still green and a maple already turned.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Upper Goose Pond, Lee

Last week we walked from Rte 20 in Lee on the Appalachian Trail, across the Mass. Pike, up to the Upper Goose Pond Cabin and then on to Goose Pond Road in Tyringham. It was a beautiful day especially with the leaves beginning to turn their bright fall colors. There were caretakers at the cabin and we enjoyed lunch with them while sitting on the dock looking out at the intensely-blue lake. A south-bound thru-hiker was taking a day of rest on another dock nearby. Very peaceful!

Fall is such a wonderful time to hike! The air is crisp and cool and I love the smell of the woods--it's earthy and sweet at the same time. The forest is lighter and brighter and the sun is a welcome warmth making my mood and energy level rise.

The Upper Goose Pond Cabin is staffed by volunteers in spring,
summer and fall. It's closed in winter.
The lake was too cold for swimming,
 but would have been perfect for canoeing or kayaking.
This fall, more acorns than usual litter the ground,
As you walk through the woods,
 you can hear them falling into the dry leaves.
Sometimes I feel like I'm walking on ball bearings!
The wood ferns are dying. I will miss them!
Love those bright sassafras leaves!
When ripe, the berries of the Indian Cucumber are deep blue
 and the leaves just below them turn a bright red.

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