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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!

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