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Trees too big to hug | Ramblings

The spectacular fall weather has finally succumbed to the season, and frazil ice has even formed in the Hudson. I’m still hoping for some Indian summer because my sprained ankle has kept me from finishing up some fall chores, including putting away the (snow-covered) plastic Adirondack chairs.

One of my last trips before the ankle accident (in the house!) was to walk the Raymond Brook trail from the Barton Mine Road to Rte. 28 near North Creek, a 4.5 mile rather rocky trail but almost all downhill. This was built by our master trail builder, retired forest ranger Steve Ovitt, as a ski trail, where rocks underfoot don’t matter. The three bridges are perfect for skiers—wide enough with snow on them and with high railings; and the trail is wide enough for good skiers. (I did a similar route centuries ago in deep, powder snow but it’s out of my league now.)

I figured it would take a couple hours as, after all, nothing would be growing or singing or buzzing any more. Ha, it still took over four hours because there were so many interesting things to look at, puzzle over, and photograph. Dusk was settling in before we got to the “spotted” car. The open hardwood forest has magnificent white ash, sugar maple, basswood, yellow birch and bigtooth poplar trees, some of which “needed” to be measured. Because many massive deadfalls are lying on the ground pointing in different directions I would say this is an old growth area, or close to it. They were not all blown down at once in a hurricane but died of old age one at a time.

The strangest thing was a big downed log, I think yellow birch, with what looked like long, soggy white sheep’s wool hanging down from its heartwood. What on earth?? I sent a picture of it to a professional botanist and forester. He was at first puzzled too, but he went for a walk in his backyard woods and saw what seemed like the same phenomenon, a first for him too. We think we know what caused it now, but I need to get back there to look at it again.

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