A 65,000 Acre Backyard

What does one do with a 65,000 acre backyard? Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Mon@rch (Tom) and experiencing first-hand some of what he does in his *huge* backyard! We hiked to many very interesting places. First we went to an old growth forest, where he taught me so much more about old growth forests, so now I hopefully can spot one when I’m in one! One of the many signs are the mounds created from fallen trees. Saplings grow on this rich soil, eventually this soil is washed away, and this is an example of what is left:

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And this:

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You will also see buttress roots on the older trees, like this:

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Another sign is when you look up a tree there are no branches down low. You have to look up at the canopy to see the leaves of the trees, like this:

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The old trees will be nice and straight, like the one above and this one:

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(are you getting than I’m in heaven here with all of these trees and learning!)

You’ll see newly fallen over trees, which leave a huge hole in the canopy. The saplings that have been waiting for this opportunity start growing, and eventually the strongest sapling(s) win.

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You see a variety of trees in the area. One of the trees that I was really surprised to see (and I didn’t capture a photo of) is a HUGE cucumber magnolia tree!

On the way down and back up the old ski slope we saw lots of interrupted fern:

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And Mayapple:

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along with a large variety of other vegetation, including club moss, that I didn’t capture (I know, well, I’ll just have to go back, won’t I?)

Next, Mon@rch took me to see a 200 year old Sugar Maple tree. Mon@rch showed you his up-tree photo, so I’ll show you other views:

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Check out these buttress roots. Aren’t they gorgeous!

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I love the rocks laying all over the place. Makes it hard to walk through a field of rocks like this, but I still think they’re wonderful:

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Next we saw Bridal Veil Falls, but it was raining so we didn’t bring the cameras there. Hopefully I can take photos another time!

Next stop was at Thunder Rocks. Are you getting the theme, I love trees, flowers and rocks, and of course, birds! Rock polypody grows on these boulders, along with moss, lichens, trees, etc.:

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And a tree that looks like it’s sitting up down on this boulder:

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Next we went to France Brook and saw a beaver:

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And when it got scared it disappeared under the water and didn’t show up again. We also saw a pair of grackles removing fecal sacks from the cavity of a dead tree. Here’s a beaver dam in a pond down further:

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While Mon@rch was talking on his cell ordering us some food, I took photos of the Administration Building:

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And the bridge at Red House lake:

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Then we went up to Stone Tower:

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This is the view from the top looking north:

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There is an arrow in the stones pointing to (magnetic?) north:

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And here’s the view looking southwest:

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If the trees weren’t there we could have seen Red House lake!

We stopped to see a ton of Blue Cohosh, a favorite herb of mine!

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Then we went up to the top of another hill with a restaurant on it and took some photos of the view:

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After that we headed for the store for (vegeterian – thanks Mon@rch) pizza, and met Grace who is the naturalist at Allegany State Park and does the ASP blog here.

If anyone wonders why I love New York State, this park is a fine example of why I think NYS is one of the most beautiful places to live! Many, many thanks to Mon@rch for the wonderful day of learning and hiking!

My Favorite Little Christmas Tree. . .

isn’t a tree at all, but a Club Moss called Northern Tree Club Moss, Lycopodium dendroideum. I *love* this little plant. Thanks to Mon@rch for reminding me of this little plant. It grows 12-16″ tall, resides in moist, shaded woods, northern hardwood woods, edges of wetlands, and bogs. It has 6-8 leaves in a whorl.
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Here’s a photo showing its’ roots – I got these two photos from the Internet:

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In New York State, Northern Tree Clubmoss is labelled as exploitably vulnerable – meaning it is threatened and endangered. This is *very* important to me. So important that when I was taking a class in Silverculture and the old man professor said they sprayed a general herbicide on the forest floor to get rid of all of the plant life so the young trees could grow, and the forest floor I was standing in was literally covered with rare clubmoss and ferns, I wasn’t happy. I asked the professor about the rare plants to which he replied, hmmm, good point, and then I dropped the class when I got back on campus. I know, I know, the point in a silverculture class is the culture of trees and not all of that “unimportant” understory stuff. My first clue to the fact that these forestry students I was taking this class with didn’t care about the understory was when I saw them stomping all over the clubmosses and ferns. I really couldn’t take it. Here is one of the many photos they took on that day. We were in Heiberg Memorial Forest on August 31, 2005, it was raining very hard all day – this was during Huricane Katrina. This was an awesome, man planted forest. I loved being in this forest, but, well, it wasn’t meant to be.
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I’m the one in the white hardhat, yellow jacket and blue pants – soaked to the skin even with all of the rain gear.

I hope everyone has a very Happy Day!