As the flakes slowly drifted downward this morning, we learned we had to make some alternate plans for the day.
Then again, they weren’t really alternate. They were meant to be and we just didn’t know that at the time. We had planned to head to Freeport because one of my snowshoes needs a new binding. Instead, circumstances led us to North Conway where we had some time on our hands and knew how to spend it. Not shopping, of course.
We’ve hiked in the Green Hills Preserve often and have always intended to complete the two mile loop by Pudding Pond, but it somehow never happened . . . until today. We had just the right amount of time to check it out.
And though we used a zip tie to fix my binding (pays to be married to a hardware store–oops, I mean guy), the trail conditions were such that we didn’t need them. Plenty of people had traveled this way over the past few days.
After passing through a mixed forest of hardwoods and softwoods, we came to Kearsarge Brook that flows out of Pudding Pond.
Beside the brook, the beavers have been active–though not always successful as this aspen is hung up on some other trees.
We found a dam, where winterberry provides contrast.
And ice over flow adds drama.
A bit further on, we discovered that working like a beaver can pay off.
And then we arrived at the pond. I’d previously thought that the trail circled the pond, but that’s not the case. Perhaps before the North South Road was constructed, it did.
I slowed my guy down because the bronze leaves of leatherleaf captured my attention. Leatherleaf is a member of the heath family, like blueberries, cranberries and laurels. Sheep laurel or lambkill grew nearby.
Also known as Cassandra, the elliptical leaves are either entire or finely-toothed and alternate in arrangement on the stem.
Even though it isn’t green throughout the winter months, it is considered an evergreen shrub because it retains most of its leaves. Think conservation–it doesn’t have to grow so many new leaves come spring.
Its common name, leatherleaf, comes from the leathery feel of the leaf. And check out that underside covered in rusty scales. The stem is also covered with scales. Buds along the stem await a spring bloom.
The plant reproduces by seeds stored in capsules and vegetatively by rhizomes. Seeing such a field of it made me realize that Pudding Pond is acidic. Though I couldn’t see it below the snow, I’ve a feeling sphagnum moss grows abundantly here.
One last look as I admired the layers of life in this boreal forest.
Finally I followed my guy along the rest of the trail. I did remind him that it’s his fault I stop for such long periods of time. He didn’t have to buy me a new lens. He grinned. He’s used to puddin’ up with me.