Some Mondates are shorter than others and such was the case today. But . . . we made the most of it as we walked up the trail to Hawk Mountain in Waterford.
It’s a half mile trek up a dirt and gravel road–just right when you want a great view and time is short. Of course, you could spend hours at the summit, but we weren’t there long.
On the way up, I noticed interrupted fern in its interrupted form. Fertile leaves toward the middle are densely covered with sporangia (spore-bearing structures). I’m fascinated by their contorted, yet beautiful structures.
Another favorite–lady’s slippers. Again, its structure is beyond my understanding.
At the summit, we paused briefly and gazed toward Crystal and Long Lakes.
While my guy moved on to the better vantage point, I stopped several times. First, it was the color of these leaves that slowed me down. Have you noticed how spring foliage provides a subtle play on fall foliage? A few friends and I have been thinking about this lately, and this morning I had the opportunity to pick the brain of Dr. Rick Van de Poll, a well-known mycologist/naturalist/educator.
He reminded me that the various hues of color in leaves is caused by the presence of pigments called anthocyanins or carbohydrates that are dissolved in the cell sap and mask the chlorophyll. As our spring temperatures rise and light intensity increases, red pigment forms on a leaf and acts as a sunscreen to protect the plant from an increase in ultraviolet rays.
It wasn’t only the color that caught my eye. Take a look at the lobe shape of the reddish leaves and that of the green in the background. In my continuing personal citizen science project to informally connect the dots of where white oaks meet red oaks, I added another pin on the map. Rounded lobes=white oak in the foreground. Pointed lobes=Northern red oak in the background.
As I headed toward my guy, I noted that the cherry trees were abuzz.
And hiding among the rocks at the base of a tree–another treat for the eyes. Wild columbine. Splendid indeed.
Equally splendid–the view from the ledges. Crystal and Long Lakes again.
Bear River below. I always expect to see a moose here. Or maybe a bear. One of these days.
Pleasant Mountain and my guy.
As we walked back down the trail and concluded our Mondate, we celebrated the fact that dragonfly season has begun. With their hawk eyes, may they capture and consume a kazillion black flies and mosquitoes.