Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Rainy Fall Walk along the RecPath

A series of rain storms helped cancel Saturday's work party, but a break in the cloud warrented a hike on the RecPath.  Got to finish the Shelton Trails Challenge.

I started today's walk in late afternoon, at the lower Wesley Drive crossing.

It was a moody, grey day, but you can see some things if you pay attention to the leaves around you.

The RecPath at the Lane St. Fire Access road had a variety of Tulip, beech, maple, and some other funny leaf.

A really long, sharp- toothed American Chestnut leaf.  It's very distinctive along the RecPath, once you start to look for it.

Other things started to jump out in the grey light, like this Mockernut Hickory.

The RecPath curved in and around trees, dipped into channel, over bridges, with some nice overlooks of Basil Brook.

There was some Witch Hazel in flower near the upper Wesley Drive crossing.  One of the only shrubs to flower in the Fall.  This one's yellow leaves were gone, but the flower's were still there.  Witch Hazel bark and roots are used as a medicinal astringent for a variety of medical treatments.

There was more Witch Hazel near Great Ledge and Oak Valley Road further up the RecPath.  It really stands out this time of year if you know what to look for.

There was also a lot of deep red - purple Maple Leafed Viburnum along the Path.  There were still a few of the purple berries left that the birds had missed so far.

Sadly, some of the ash trees above Lizard Head Rock and Crabapple Drive were dying.  You could see the dead tops and then looking lower you could see the distinctive bark.

The bark is gone from "blonding"; the loss of the bark from woodpeckers searching for bugs in the dying trees.

So whether its from Emerald Ash Borers, some fungus, or some other blight we are losing a lot of our ash trees almost overnight.

When you've seen one you start looking along along the Path and you'll see a number of sick ash trees that are under attack.

But then you come to other old friend, like the knobby maple tree,
near the turtle pond and they seem to be doing OK.

This Red Maple has been around for a while and has the bumps and lumps to prove it, but it keeps going on and is in a scenic spot near the gas pipeline crossing.

There are some surprisingly picturesque spots when you come out onto the powerlines.  There is a very colorful shrub community that grows under full sunlight without the shadowing of tress along the powerlines.

The RecPath winds through wetlands along Spooner Swamp and around the power towers near Great Ledge.

All that left of the Sweet Pepperbush are the little pepper seeds.

On the other hand the Winterberry looks like it will have a bumper year and the leaves are still all green along Spooner Swamp.

Further up, the oaks start to take over near appropriately enough Oak Valley Lane.

The RecPath winds along as it crosses a couple of driveways and parallels Oak Valley Road before heading North toward the Dog Park.  It was a pretty walk that demonstrated that even on a rainy grey day there were new things to see.  You just have to look around you and ask yourself what am I  looking at?  Fall is a time of change, but it won't last forever.  Try to find the time to enjoy it.

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