Mary Holland posted in her Naturally Curious blog that black bears are emerging now and it’s time to bring in the bird feeders. Maybe so, but today surely didn’t feel like a good day to give up a cozy spot and head out in search of food that doesn’t exist because the snow is crusted and two feet deep.
Winds were out of the northwest at about 18 miles per hour. The temperature was 8˚ that felt like -10˚ or lower. But sunshine. We had plenty of sunshine. So maybe the bears are waking from their long winter’s nap.
Post lunch, my guy and I decided to don micro-spikes because of the snow conditions and ascend the trail to the summit of Mount Tire’m in Waterford. Only a few seconds after starting up the trail, we spied downed hemlock branches and knew one of the critters that frequents these woods.
As I looked on the stonewall beside the trail, I could see that the porcupine had left its own trail while it came and went. We wondered where it might be, but when I turned and looked back down to the road, I saw that the trail continued that way and have a feeling that Porky lives under one of the nearby barns, much the same as our local Porky lives under our barn.
Our hike to the summit was brisk because it was so cold. Every once in a while, my guy paused, including beside this newly excavated pileated woodpecker hole. If I were the local chickadees, I’d choose this one tonight and gather all my friends and relatives within since it was deeper than many.
There were the fire tenders nearby–birch bark and false tinder conks–so keeping the home fire lit should help keep them warm.
Over halfway to the summit, there’s a brief opening to Keoka Lake and Streaked Mountain in the offing. We could see a wee bit of open water below, and know that despite this weekend’s weather, change is in the air.
It seemed like we reached the summit in a matter of minutes, so cold was it. But, we were out of the way of the wind and the southerly exposure meant less snow.
We looked to the left, with Keoka Lake below. And behind the single pine, Bear and Hawk Mountains.
To our right and through the pines, we could see the snow covered ski trails at Shawnee Peak Ski Area on Pleasant Mountain.
Straight below, Waterford City, Bear Pond and Long Lake beyond.
This hike is never complete without a visit to the rock castle hidden in a hemlock stand behind the summit. It was a favorite for our sons when they were youngsters and we still like to pay homage.
Life on a rock has long been exemplified here, with crustose lichens topped by mosses that grow among the cracks, where pine needles and seeds gather.
The result– dirt so birch trees may grow out of the side of the boulders.
When one visits the castle, it’s important to check out the caves because you never know . . .
who might emerge.
We decided to bushwhack on our way down. Turns out, Ms. Holland was right. We met a bear in the woods today.