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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bowser Pond 6/22/12

"A Quick, Humid Walk" (pictures)

I was a little bored on Friday and really didn't have much to do at my home office. It was pretty hot but a little less humid than prior days. So I thought I would take a drive and do a quick check of the parking area and then park at the Bowser Pond road and do a quick walk up to the pond. Crossing the bridge and rounding the corner I found a bunch of living room furniture discarded beside the woods road. A friend had told me of a dump site and I didn't realize she had meant this particular area. 3 TV's, 3 chairs, a box spring and some other miscelanious things. How aggravating! Moving on I made quick time to the pond.

Dragon fly's were all over flying through the air and landing on the various plants on and in the ponds banks. I spent some time crouched down in various spots trying to get some close-up pics in but wasn't having any luck today. They were too active, the shore was too flooded to get to were the dragons were frequenting the most and the biting bugs were bothering me way too much. So I headed back up the trail and checked more sections of the woods roads through here that ATV's like to enroach upon as they leave a mess of tracks and garbage behind. It didn't look too bad, Nothing a garbage bag couldn't handle at some point when the weather cools down a bit. As of right now, the horse fly's were so awful I had to get back to the truck before they carried me away!

Monday, June 18, 2012

MMR Hike and Work 6/14&17/12

"Meet our Blades of Steel!" (pictures)

6/14: A quick hike Thursday afternoon to inspect the work we had done the previous weekend revealed a now easy to follow, mostly dried out trail! We made quick progress to the summit of Phoebes Nable then decided to head down the North end to Burrows Farm trail to check on the field. We had to stop at the point where the woods road enters the field where we had built a rock wall across to discourage ATV's from getting through and messing up the trail. Someone (whom had left tire marks in the grass) had removed half of the wall and threw the rocks into the woods and down the hill! Aggravated but determined as always to repair what was "damaged" we quickly and easily re-built it. With Scott throwing the stones up to the road and me throwing them back into a wall. Then, just for good measure, we added a few more larger rocks.

That done we were able to finish what was just supposed to be a quick hike! The Field had become even more overgrown with sumac from all the rain we had been having. I was sure to remind the SPNHF staff of the dire need to mow and they are working on getting it arranged. We also noted that the Burrows Cemetery would need cutting and mowing again so we planned on getting to that sometime soon. The field was also coming alive with it's summer array of wild strawberries, daisies, birds-foot trefoil, orange hawkweed and an array of clover and honeysuckle which a hummingbird moth was enjoying!

Back onto the Burrows Farm trail below the Moose Mountains trail junction a large garter snake crossed in front of me. I went after it with the camera and it went into attack mode rather quickly. Curled up and striking at me as I tried to shoot a picture of it. Scott had the idea to video tape it attacking. The rest of the trip down was quick. The road is growing in nicely on the sides with ferns, Beach Rose and other wild flowers like daisies. We also found a large Multi-flora Rose bush which was so pretty and fragrant. A friend brought to my attention however that it is an invasive, non-native plant so we may remove it at some point.

6/17: Saturday was spent doing yard work and by the end of the day we were pretty tired and did not have what we needed for a big hike in the White's Sunday. Weather was back-and-forth Saturday and Sunday looked to be a repeat. So we decided to spend another weekend at MMR getting work done for the summer hiking season. We began in the parking lot where we cut branches back from the parking area and also at the entrance. We went up the first section of Phoebes Nable trail and did some minor trimming here as well.

Back at the parking lot we chatted with a family that owns some of the property in the center of MMR and we were happy to hear how much they liked the loop trails we had been working on! After making a short trip home to take care of something we returned and headed up the road. I parked in the field and we began our work. At the top of the field from the sign post to the edge of the woods Scott began cutting the small trees along the trail section and I mowed a path with the lawn mower. It looked pretty cool and was now much easier to follow the trail. 

This done we set up shop at the cemetery and cut out all the sprouts coming out of what we cut last year. I mowed and then Scott did some raking. We carefully re-positioned some broken stones and it looked very nice when completed. I also used the sickle and whacked the weeds and trees from around the two apple trees here.

Now it was up the hill to the farm site where a boulder sit's that holds a plaque. The grass was very thick and tall here. I began mowing as Scott cut the sumac that was taking over the boulder. The final section done we walked back down to the truck. Scott then noticed a large vine taking over one of the apple trees we hadn't pruned yet. He mentioned we should cut the vine in hopes it would die and then we would tackle this massively overgrown tree when we had time.

I cut my way through the jungle of sumac to the tree and began cutting the tangled mess. The Grape Vine (as identified by some friends) was very large and had twined itself all over both sides of the tree. Having made my way around the tree cutting all the entangled mess we called it a day and headed home for some much needed rest.and to enjoy the last couple hours of the weekends sunlight!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

MMR Flower Search & Trail Work 6/8-10/12

"Searching for Pegonia and Phoebes Nable Mt. Trail Work" (pictures)

6/8: Friday I met an MMR regular (Marty) at 11am to search a spot that was recorded as containing a Federally Threatened plant the Small Whorled Pegonia (orchid). We set out up Phoebes Nable trail where we found a severely overgrown trail. Ferns for the most part had taken over! Scott and I figured there would be some overgrowth, but not this much this soon! Marty and I continued, taking a left onto South trail. From here we followed the old logging road until we were parallel with the spot I marked on my GPS. From here we entered the woods and began our search!

We sweeped our way through the thick woods eventually reaching the rock wall that marks the MMR boundary. Here we headed South and slightly back towards the road where we descended a hill  and soon began seeing signs of wildflowers. Starflower, Lady slippers and other plants were growing here. Perhaps we were in the right area. We continued to search the hill and descended to a small pond/marsh area. We made our way around the pond. I spotted a small blue egg on the ground that must have fallen from a nest (robin?). Then spotted two more! On the other side of the pond we found the outlet stream and in this area we spotted what might be the Pegonia we were looking for!

It was a tough thing to figure out. There were no flowers and the leaves were similar to that of the Starflower and Indian Cucumber-root. We searched the area and found the look-alike plants that had flowers that we could easily identify. We brought them back to compare the leaves and roots. After some discussion and pondering and bringing some pictures up on my phone, we were 99% sure these were Cucumber-root. Discouraged we called it a day and continuing our search on the way back yielded nothing more but an abundance of Pointed Blue-eyed grass and some wild raspberries and strawberries.

We did however find something exciting. Pipsissewa (Prince's Pine) which I have only seen once before in the White Mountains! This plant sports shiny/waxy leaves and has neat flower pods that look like something out of a  fiction movie! The buds had not yet opened so we planned on meeting again next week to explore some more and to see if the flowers had opened! (picture of Pipsissewa I found on Baldface Knob trail and that was published in Todd Boland's book "Trees & Shrubs of Newfoundland and Labrador HERE)

6/9: After showing Scott pictures of the overgrown Phoebes Nable trail we decided that we should get up there right away to get it cleaned up for the summer hiking season. We packed up the tools and our backpacks and began our work at 10am. We first set some large stepping stones on a wet section at the trail head. Then I worked the sickle to remove ferns, weeds and small trees from the trail tread-way as Scott cut back tree branches that hung into the trail.

We spent a good 2-3 hours on a wet hill were the trail meets South trail. Ferns had to be "whacked" away and we raked out this wet jungle area! Then I began rolling large stones out of the woods for us to place as steps. One large rock worked well to bridge a drainage ditch we had made to get water flowing out of the area. When finished with this area we took a break and admired how awesome this section came out!

Stones Placed

Next we headed up the long hill and continued our aforementioned duties. It was a long, tiresome job but was really opening up the tread-way nicely. Up on a level section I was whacking away when I heard a rustle of leaves directly in front of me. I looked ahead and right there was a little baby porcupine! I yelled for Scott to come quick! The little guy just sat there, quills out and when he determined we were not a threat he just sat there and looked up at us. So cute!

Nearly stopping at one point in exhaustion we decided to continue on until we reached the last junction at the top of this hill. We reached our goal and when we arrived back down to the parking lot we had put 5 hours into the trail! Surprisingly we had seen all but one tick all day! With more trail left to complete we decided to skip on heading up to the White's Sunday to return here and finish the rest.

6/10: And that we did, Sunday we returned at 11am. We hiked up the sections we had done yesterday and were happy with our work. Even the wet section were we placed the stepping stones was drying out nicely. This day went pretty much the same. A little warmer and a lot more ferns and small trees. But we trudged on! The only ticks we picked up were on a flat section below the summit where tall grass was growing.

I had several really bad blisters on my hands from using the sickle 5 hours the day before and 4 hours today. Our bodies were pretty sore all over and we were happy to finish and have a nice lunch at the summit of Phoebes Nable. Now we just need to get a day scheduled to have SPNHF staff come up and do a much needed view cut!