A walk in the woods

Photo Aug 20, 4 05 31 PM (Large)Though at first glance this may sound like a reference to the Bill Bryson book about hiking the Appalachian Trail (and if you haven’t read it, you should), it isn’t. I have never done a formal hike in my life, and while I’m pretty sure I have the stamina I do not have the footwear. That aside, a friend and I tackled a local hike today. Since I’m not quite sure what defines a “hike”, I choose to simply call this a walk in the woods.

Photo Aug 20, 3 48 41 PM__ (Large)It was a couple miles around this small pond. The afternoon was nearing 80 degrees, but under the trees it was cooler. The trail began in a wet area and continued on through pine, maple, beech and oak trees; we sidestepped the muddy areas and navigated mossy rocks along the path.

Anyone know what this strange little plant is?

Anyone know what this strange little plant is?

Emerging from the oak leaves and acorns is an Indian Pipe plant, which does not contain chlorophyll. It is a parasite and is not dependent on sunlight to grow.

Emerging from the oak leaves is an Indian Pipe plant, which does not contain chlorophyll. It is a parasite and is not dependent on sunlight to grow.

I had trouble with the multitasking – paying attention to the trail, marked by blue blazes on trees, and looking for the details along the way: strange little flowers and funguses, delicately patterned moss, mushrooms of all shapes, sizes and colors. The trail was alternately easy and challenging – in some places it went straight up, in others places it crossed small streams via stones. I kept forgetting to look for the blue blazes. Sometimes the trail opened up to the pond, which offered a mirror image with clouds reflected in the water. The only sounds you could hear were birds and the rustle of the breeze.

Photo Aug 20, 5 04 21 PM (Large)

Photo Aug 20, 3 55 36 PM (Large)Eventually the landscape changed and we came upon a beaver dam. Evidence of beaver activity was all around, and there was a small wooden bridge across the marsh (it bounced a bit when you walked across it, but still seemed sturdy enough…) We found blueberry bushes and watched an animal swimming across the pond – maybe a beaver but more likely a muskrat. The terrain was alternately open, pine-needle forest and thick undergrowth on both sides. None of it was difficult to navigate.

Beaver calling card!

Beaver calling card!

Photo Aug 20, 4 21 01 PM (Large)The terrain changed again on this side of the pond; we came upon an area that, compared to the rest of the walk, looked like an alien landscape. Glacial erratics – boulders to you and me – were deposited here centuries ago and still remain. Some were the size of cars! They were everywhere, spilling down the hill toward the water, and the trail meandered around and through them. (This IS the granite state, after all.) We even saw some pink granite, usually reserved for the Maine coast, and we wondered how many little critters found homes under the overhangs in the winter.

Photo Aug 20, 4 35 36 PM (Large)

Lichen decorating the sides of the boulders

Lichen decorating the sides of the boulders

The landscape changed again and the trail hugged the shore. We saw woodpeckers in the trees and crossed bridges made of flat stones. More mushrooms. Views of the pond with sparkles on the water that looked like stars. A tree that had fallen into the pond with its bare branches sticking up reminded me of ship carcasses I’d seen on the Maine coast. When we finally came to a small sandy beach, which was the end point of the hike, I was a little disappointed. I guess I wanted to keep discovering.

Photo Aug 20, 5 06 51 PM (Large)

Photo Aug 20, 5 19 12 PM (Large)So while this was nowhere near the caliber of the Appalachian Trail, it was a fine afternoon in a rural spot in New Hampshire. I think even Bill Bryson would approve.






6 responses to “A walk in the woods

  1. A beautiful spot, very nicely documented. I love the second to last shot of the mushroom. It looks like a blown-out umbrella!

  2. Paige-
    Excellent discriptions and photos. I also like the mushroom photo.

  3. I miss hiking! I have focused on feeling guilty about it, rather than remembering what a treat it is to get close to nature – God’s design. Thank you for the trip!

  4. Thank you so much for taking me on this hike with you. I haven’t been out in the woods for a while and I miss it. Your mushrooms and fungi are awesome finds!

  5. Lovely, lovely walk in the woods during which you noticed and showed us so many unusual things. . .

  6. P, You definitely have an eye for detail, and the words invite curiosity and continued adventure. Nice little jaunt around the pond!

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