Every Greater Lovell Land Trust trail is my favorite in any given moment and so it was that Perky’s Path received that ranking today.
I met my friend Pam in the parking lot and immediately our hunt for great finds began. We looked first at the basswood, but it was the shrub next door that heard us utter with delight–a beaked hazelnut showed off its fuzzy horned fruits.
And then we walked back up the road a wee bit for at the entrance to the parking lot I’d spied a hop hornbeam also loaded–with hops.
At last, we started down the trail, heading south where a self-guided tour begins. A small group of GLLT docents spent the winter months preparing signs for a variety of species along this route. It’s a task that requires choosing a particular trail one summer for the next, determining which species to ID, taking photographs, gathering and writing facts, creating and printing cards, laminating them, attaching them to posts, relocating the species and finally erecting the posts, which will be left in place until Labor Day. That’s a lot of work, so if you have a chance, take the tour. It includes trees, shrubs, flowers, ferns and more.
As we walked, the ground at our feet moved–in hopping fashion. We only saw one American toad, but plenty of frogs.
All of them sported their camouflage colors, so after the ground moved, we had to focus in order to relocate them once they paused.
This female wood frog’s robber mask was the only thing that helped us locate her.
You’ll have to use your own focus to find the baby wood frog that hid beneath a decomposing starflower leaf.
And another teeny, tiny one–a spring peeper with the X on its back.
Because we were looking down all the time, we began to notice other things, such as the common brown cup fungi which looked rather like a wrinkled ear.
We also found a few black trumpets,
chanterelles (I’m leaning toward Cantharellus cibarius but don’t take my word for it–check with the Veitch brothers of White Mountain Mushrooms for positive ID is you are a forager.),
and a couple of Caesar’s.
Though we found one Indian cucumber root that had been broken, its fruit continued to form.
Our hearts throbbed when we recognized that here and there hiding among the herb layer were round-leaved pyrolas.
Their leaves were nearly round with petioles or stems no longer than the blade.
And their flowers–nodding.
Pam had shown me a photo of a pipsissewa that grew on her property and we then found a small patch just off the trail, their jester-hat flowers attracting small insects.
What better way to admire those flowers than up closer and personal.
And then it was time to don a brackenfern cap for the mosquitoes were at times annoying–and biting.
As we continued on, we noted that it is Indian pipe season. I asked Pam if she’d ever seen the pink version that occasionally occurs–and then we began to find several nodding heads . . . all with a tinge of pink.
As we neared the platform overlooking the meadow and brook that flows between Heald and Bradley ponds, a sign of a different kind stood before a tree. Rather than focusing on one species, this one described the different formations of lichens.
And on the tree behind it–an example of all three, with several types of crustose (crust-like and look to be painted on), foliose (foliage) like the small ribbon lichen that is bright green and ribbony in the upper right hand corner, and fruiticose (think grape branches) of the beard lichens below the ribbon lichen.
Behind that tree–another featuring lungwort lichen.
For a few moments, we paused at the platform bench–taking in the sights . . .
and sounds as we wondered what may have passed through.
We also noted the difference in structure of the spireas, including steeplebush in bloom . . .
and meadowsweet not yet.
Swamp candles added a tinge of color to the offerings.
Back on the trail, we were excited to find the porcelain beads of clintonia, one showing the transformation from green to blue.
Dew drops shone white against their dark heart-shaped leaves covered in rain drops.
And further on by the primitive bridges that cross below the beaver pond,
tall meadow rue flowers presented a daytime fireworks display,
while otter scat decorated a bridge slat.
We continued along, enjoying the offerings and quizzing ourselves on a variety of species, all the time pausing to read the self-guided tour signs. At last we reached the junction with the trail to Flat Hill and found our way back to the parking lot.
Perky’s Path is maybe a mile long, but it took us 3.5 hours to complete the tour as we poked along–rejoicing with each of our finds.