Today’s hike meant we had to drive about thirty minutes north to an old favorite, but though we’ve hiked it a bunch in the past, we had no idea what to expect–including meeting my friend Rachel Pickus and her friend Eleanor on the trail.
Not long after we began hiking, we discovered a lone lady’s slipper and fondly thought of our discovery last week of over 200 of these beauties. The special thing about this one was that not only was it a solo but also pure white . . . a variation of a pink.
Offering other colors to the mix in the mixed forest were a couple of red-belted polypores, the name truly a misnomer for the belt along the outer margin was whitish-orange, but can also be yellowish-orange, red, brown or white.
Flitting about at our feet whenever it seemed the sun shone through the canopy were tiny blue butterflies known as Spring Azures. Though named for the season in which they are one of the first to fly, they’re known to be on the wing until autumn so keep your eyes as wide open as theirs for a one inch flash of blue at your feet.
Within a short time we reached a beaver pond that was most active with dragonflies and the banjo strums of green frogs than beavers.
To cross, one must get a wee bit muddy along the beaver dam where a few large tree cookies have been added this year as stepping “stones.”
As we moved across, the frogs who were calling did leap away, except for one who channeled its inner chipmunk and froze in place, perhaps in hopes that we wouldn’t notice. Can frogs hope? Or is that one of those most people of things?
Upward we climbed, though really, the trail is moderate in difficulty. But speaking of difficulty, check out the root of this hemlock tucked as it was inside the rock. Hemlock rock. Hemrock?
And then there was the snag of an ash tree. So you see the scar? That hollowed out part? Many of the trees along the trail exhibited such scars for the area had been logged years ago by the United States Forest Service given that we were in the White Mountain National Forest (and actually met a forester on the trail). Why the scars? Because trees pulled out of the forest would have been dragged past these and injured them in the process.
But . . . again a sign of hope if trees can hope. Or rather, if snags can hope. For this ash still had roots participating in the flow high and low of fluids and an errant compound leaf grew out of the bark.
It wasn’t long after that that I once again realized my guy has an eye for the ladies. Or at least their slippers. And odd fetish indeed. But we began to count.
The count continued as we ventured out to the ledge of a spur trail and Kearsarge North showed off its pyramid form in the distance.
Continuing to climb, we soon met a friend in the form of a Racket-tailed Emerald dragonfly.
They’re known for their metallic green thorax with brown hairs, black legs, and clear wings. with a wee bit of yellow and black at the base of the hindwings. In their simplicity, they are truly beautiful.
And speaking of beautiful, have you noticed Tiger Swallowtails everywhere of late? This one sought the nectar of chokeberry in bloom.
While I noticed the butterflies and dragonflies and trees and fungi, my guy focused in on the ladies of his dreams. By the time we’d reached the summit and ledges beyond, he’d counted many.
As we took in the view at the last cairn, and the peak on his back matched the peaks beyond, he commented that a week ago he never expected to spot so many lady’s slippers and today he added 150 to the count. I never expected him to slow down and count. Two hundred last week. One hundred fifty today. We definitely stepped it up a notch on this Mondate.