I suggested this mountain to my guy the night before last. But yesterday morning I wasn’t sure I wanted to drive to it and so I offered two other possibilities much closer to home, including the one in our backyard. The original choice, however, still resonated with him because . . . there might be a pie involved. We could only hope.
We certainly found berries, though most weren’t meant for our pie, unless, of course, we were of the avian or mammal sort. This one the fruit of a Stinking Benjamin.
Along some parts of the trail Mountain Holly’s raspberry red berries mixed with the smell of the surrounding fir trees made us feel as if we’d stepped into the Christmas aisle.
The reds were delightful, but my favorite of all, the porcelain blue of Bluebead Lily, aka Clintonia. To think that its yellow spring flower transforms into this brilliant blue fruit astonishes me each time I have a chance encounter with it. Chance because as was the case along most of the trail, the berries had been consumed. Not edible to us, but obviously there are those who can enjoy the feast.
We could have eaten a Creeping Snowberry or two, but again, it’s always such a surprise to see these fruits that we left them for the animals to bake into their own dessert of choice.
For a long way, the trail passes through mixed woods but as we climbed higher the natural community gradually changed and soon we were among the evergreens, where a break offered a sampling of the view to come.
Staying out of view was a shy garter snake.
Until we reached the bald ledges, much of our vision was consumed by the forest floor for we had to pay attention to the exposed roots and rocks that thousands of others had trodden, knowing that somewhere in the midst we’d left our prints previously.
At times boulders bordered the trail in the form of enormous outcrops and I kept expecting to see a bobcat hiding within, but no such luck.
At last we reached the summit and took in the panoramic view. And rejoiced in the day, the opportunity to hike and encounter few others, and especially the temperature for it was really quite comfortable.
Beside the cairn we found lunch rock and . . . lunched. (Is that a verb?)
And then I began to poke around. I really wanted to get a photo of the dragonflies that kept zooming past and the butterflies who fluttered nearby but never paused. Instead, a White-spotted Sawyer flew in and took up a few minutes of my time.
That is until a hawk’s shadow drew our attention to the sky.
It suddenly turned and flew straight at us. I thought I was taking the most spectacular photograph just before I dove for cover. Apparently I missed that photo op but it will remain forever in our minds’ eyes . . . and we think it was a Goshawk based on its colors and behavior. That said, it was time for us to skedaddle.
And so we began our descent, choosing to make the loop that tried to allude us the first time we ever climbed this mountain. Now we know where to look for it, but if you go, know to keep searching for the cairns at the summit because otherwise there are a lot of false paths. Well, they aren’t actually false for they do exist, but they won’t lead you down the “easy” way.
Knowing that I was bummed not to snap a shot of the dragonflies at the top, my guy stopped when we encountered them again in sunny spots along the trail. No, he wasn’t saying “Peace be with you,” but rather he hoped to be a dragonfly whisperer. They’d have none of it, though they flew at us and over us and we repeatedly thanked them because we’ve been in this place when the biting bugs think we’re meant to be the feast.
At long last, my guy spotted this guy dangling as the darner family does. You might also find one resting upon a tree trunk. The lighting wasn’t right for me to make a precise identification because I couldn’t see the markings on its face and thorax, but still . . . I got my dragonfly and was happy.
Further along he pointed to scat and I said, “Weasel.” It was right beside a small critter hole and I suspected it had feasted upon the residents within.
To follow the loop takes a lot longer than had we chosen to descend the way we’d climbed up; but eventually we were back on the main trail where we’d completely missed this sign-in rock. We chose not to sign in or out and tried our best to leave no trace.
We took only photos, including a selfie as we ascended.
And though there were blueberries here and there along the trail and I suspect some of you expected us to pick and me to bake (LOL), we only sampled a few because on our way we’d stopped at the roadside bakery and made a selection, not wanting to take a chance that upon our return the shelves would be empty.
Our choice de resistance and reward for completing an over nine-mile hike: Blueberry Cherry Pie.
Indeed Glee upon Zle Mountain Mondate.
P.S. All along we talked about this pie and fully expected to dig in last night, but ended up eating too late because we had chores to do at home and it’s on the counter right now and I hope the grand moment will follow lunch today. That or we’ll just savor the sight of it for a while and remember that we love hiking that mountain because it offers such variety . . . and pie.