News about me, and my thoughts, jokes, and stuff.

Sean's Blog

On Top of Monadnock

I turned 45 in June, and, as I had done when I turned 40, I celebrated with a long weekend bike trip.  In this case, I headed north (and a bit east) into New Hampshire, where I intended to hike Mt. Monadnock, which I’d been meaning to do for several years.

I started the trip on Friday, biking through South Hadley, Hadley, Amherst, and Leverett, and then stopped for lunch in Montague (at the cafe at the Book Mill).  From Montague Center I rode up to Turner’s Falls and then into the town of Gill, and just as I passed into Northfield, Mass, it began to rain lightly.  Fortunately, I’d brought a rain cover for my bike luggage, so I was able to keep the stuff dry while I rode through Northfield.  When it started to rain a little harder, I took shelter briefly at a bank drive-through lane.  I only had to wait 10 minutes, and then it lightened up.  Soon, as I was about to cross the state line into NH, the rain stopped completely.

What was interesting was that, in NH, the ground was much wetter than in MA.  It had clearly rained more there, but by the time I got up there the sun was out and the moisture had started steaming off of the road surface.  I rode on (along route 10) through the town of Winchester, and eventually the ground dried up.

At one point I stopped to rest by this pond/wide piece of river (click on pictures to enlarge):

    

I continued north through West Swanzey, and on into Keene.  I had intended to pick up a bike trail in W. Swanzey, but did not find it (turned out later that I had incorrectly remembered which direction it lay from the main road).  I eventually found the trail just after getting in to Keene, and followed it to downtown, where I had dinner.

After dinner, I headed southeast, toward the town of Rindge, where I would be staying the night.  It took a bit longer than I’d expected, and I was feeling fairly tired.  I did cross a few nice looking streams/rivers, or perhaps the same one multiple times, as I rode down route 12.  They all looked similar to this:

It was after dark by the time I reached Rindge, but I’d brought lights, and so was prepared.  I had booked to stay 2 nights at an AirBnB place, which had the advantage of having a couple of cats.  The long-haired one was more friendly and approachable, while the other one only showed up after I’d been there a while, and he crept very cautiously into my room:

   

When I went to bed, I left the door cracked open in case a cat would want to visit during the night.  As far as I’m aware, that did not happen.

The next day, I biked down to a nearby diner for breakfast.  The house where I was staying was right on a trail through the woods, so I did not have to ride on the road.

The trail was a bit rough in spots – it’s an old railroad line, and there as a section that still had ties in place (I walked the bike over those).

After breakfast, I biked up to Monadnock State Park and met up with my friend David.  We started up the mountain, as he told me that it’s a very popular hike, despite being pretty strenuous.  I had not realized how strenuous, but it does go upward more than it goes laterally (i.e. the slope is greater than 1).

The mountain is very forested, so it was quite a while before we had any kind of view.  Once we did, it was pretty cool.

   

We were about 2/3 of the way to the summit at that point, I believe.  The summit itself is mostly devoid of vegetation.  Here’s a view from the top:

And then standing a little lower, looking up at the summit:

As mentioned, it’s a popular spot.  We hung out up there for about half an hour, then went down by a slightly different trail.  I had not brought quite enough water for the hike, as it turned out, so I was rationing myself as we went back down.  Once we got back to the bottom I drank a whole bunch from a faucet by the bathrooms.

After recovering a bit, we parted ways, and I biked back into Rindge.  I took a shower and then got some dinner, and ended up going to sleep somewhat early (funny how doing a 5+ hour mountain hike the day after 85 miles of cycling will wear you out).

The next day I had breakfast at the same diner, then packed up and started heading for home.  I went by a different route, traveling west from Rindge into Fitzwilliam, then south into Royalston, MA.  Unfortunately, what was not included in the route I’d mapped was a bridge under construction soon after getting into MA, which necessitated taking a 4 or 5 mile detour which had a bunch of up and down riding.  At least it was still morning, and so not too hot yet (though that day ended up getting into the mid-nineties).

From Royalston I kept going south until I reached Athol, then I rode on Mass Routes 2A and 2 west through several towns (Orange, Erving, Northfield, Gill), until I got to Turner’s Falls, and I then mostly retraced my path from Friday (though passing through Sunderland instead of Leverett).

On the way through Montague Center, I stopped to check e-mail, and while stopped, I noticed something familiar looking at the front of a residential property:

I went closer to see if this was actually what I thought it was.  It was, indeed, a facsimile of a certain British Police Call box.

It lacks a bunch of details, but maybe it’s trying to look unassuming…

 

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful, but much of the day I’d had to stop for shade breaks because it was so hot.  So the riding took longer than I’d expected, even though I was only traveling about 65 miles.  I met up with others in Hadley for ice cream (at Flayvors of Cook Farm), as part of a joint birthday celebration for 2 of us, and because of the late hour and the heat, my bike and I got a car ride home.

Posted by seaking on 09-19-2017 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking, Cats, Hiking, Travel with 0 Comments

Stanley, I Presume

Back in April, I went for a 26-mile bike ride, which is a typical length for the early to mid-Spring as I get back in cycling shape.  I rode to Westfield, Mass to check out Stanley Park, which I’d heard about but had never visited.

I entered the park on the South side, at a sort-of “back entrance”.  There was a small parking lot there, which featured the entrance to hiking trails in a wooded area.  The trail just looked like a little dirt road at first, but then became more of a traditional hiking trail further along (click on images to view larger).

  

The trail I hiked mostly followed the Little River, which flows along the southern part of the park.  There are a number of nice views of the water, such as this:

I did not see a lot of wildlife, but did catch sight of this snake, just after I heard it slither off the trail into the groundcover:

At one point, the trail I was on crossed a tributary stream, doing so on a floating bridge:

There was a sign dedicating that bridge:

I walked through the trails for about 90 minutes, before getting back to my bike.  I then ended up walking the bike through other parts of the park, such as past a duck pond:

which had a swan in it, as well as ducks.  There were also various kinds of geese around, including these white ones:

Near the pond are a couple of small, old structures, like this one with a water wheel:

As I moved past here toward the front of the park, I passed through a couple of the garden areas, including the Asian Garden (named for the structures erected more than the plant life).

Near those gardens, along the front side of the park, were a series of athletic fields and picnic areas.  For a park in a somewhat urban area, it was not only larger than I expected, but surprisingly diverse in the types of terrain and facilities.

Posted by seaking on 09-14-2017 at 09:09 pm
Posted in Biking, Hiking with 0 Comments

New Trail Blazed

In mid-October, a new hiking trail on newly conserved land was opened here in Hadley.  The Trustees of Reservations, a private non-profit, purchased the property to protect it from development, and are now making it available for the public to enjoy.  Mount Warner (a reasonably-sized hill in the north part of Hadley) is the location of this new reservation.

I attended the formal opening ceremony that weekend to check out the new place.  I arrived a bit early, and there were already many people there (click pics for larger versions):

warnopen1

And there were tents set up with information displays on the history of that area of town, and on the Trustees and their other properties (a couple of which I’ve been to, such as the Chesterfield Gorge):

warnopen2

Some various remarks were made about the acquisition of the land and preparation of the trail:

warnopen3

They fortunately had setup a PA system for this, as the crowd was easily up to 60 or 70 people by the time things got started.

They had a ribbon cutting with the obligatory giant pair of scissors, and all children in attendance were invited to take part (along with State Rep. John Scibek and State Senator Stan Rosenberg):

warnopen4

warnopen5

After the cutting, there were a couple of guided tours offered of the trail.  I started out following a tour group that included a Trustees naturalist talking about various flora along the way, but as I didn’t have a lot of time, I ended up moving ahead of the group to hike the entire trail on my own.  The trail is a loop that’s a bit over 2 miles long, so I had just enough time to cover the distance before I needed to get going on other errands.

At the apex of the loop, there was a side trail that led to a lookout point.  Mt. Warner is a very gradual hill, unlike many other large hills in the area, so one looks across a field to the view, but it’s still a pretty nice view:

warnview

That view looks north, including some of the Connecticut River and, in the distance, Mt. Sugarloaf.

The trail did involve some climbing, and so was a good workout, but overall I did not find it as interesting as the trails on the Holyoke Range (around the border between Hadley and South Hadley).  It was nice to visit once, but I don’t know that I’ll head to Mt. Warner to hike again.

 

Posted by seaking on 11-28-2014 at 11:11 pm
Posted in Hiking, News with 0 Comments

Not-So-Plain Plain

On my third day in Iceland, I had a quick breakfast of yogurt and granola, or rather, of yogurt drink and granola.  It turned out that the stuff I thought was yogurt, Skyr, is more like a thin smoothie.  It still worked fine, as I even like having granola with plain milk.

Outside, before getting on the bike, I took a picture of Héradsskolínn itself (click any picture to see it bigger):

heradss1

And here is Óli Stef up close:

olistef1

olistef2

And here is the peak across the road, without its summit obscured by clouds:

laugmount2

I started riding west, back up Route 365.  When I say ‘up’, I mean that there is a long hill that I had to climb as I headed out of Laugarvatn.  Here’s a view of that same peak from a ways up the hill to the west:

laugmount3

This is a view looking downhill at the town:

laugdownhill

While I was paused at this point, there was a pretty stream off to the side of the road:

rt365water1

rt365water2

As I rode along 365, I took pics of mountains that I hadn’t stopped for when I came through earlier in the week:

rt365mount1

rt365mount2

rt365mount3

I also saw some more sheep, including a variegated one:

icesheep3

When I came within view of Thingfallavatn, I could see what looked like a geyser on the other side of the water:

thingfallspout

Soon I got to Route 36, and headed north into the Thingvellir park.  A little ways after getting into the park, I turned off on a side road that goes west along the north side of the lake.  There I was able to get close to the lake, as at this parking area:

hallviksign

The lake, complete with a fisherman off to the left:

thingfallclose1

thingfallclose2

I walked along the water a bit, and observed some interesting seaweed, which was very brightly colored:

thingalgae1

It was also very stringy:

thingalgae2

The plant life on the ground was mostly low-growing stuff, and not all of it green:

thingflora1

thingflora2

Continuing along toward the center of the park, I soon came to the odder parts of the landscape.  Namely, various geologic fissures:

thingfissure1

thingfissure2

thingfissure3

thingfissure4

Iceland, and the national park in particular, sits on the divide between the North American and European tectonic plates, which are moving apart very slightly each year.  It’s this action that causes much of the ground breakage there.

Around these fissures, I also saw my first view of this long rock wall:

thingwall1

That wall borders the parliament plain (the Althing Vellir) itself.  This is where the world’s first parliament met, established in the 10th century by the Viking settlers of Iceland.

When I got to the plain, I locked up the bike in a picnic area, and headed up some steps toward the rock wall.  Here are some views of the plain from most of the way up:

thingvellir1

thingvellir2

There was a path in front of the rock wall, which went slightly downhill to the north:

thingwall2

And uphill to the south:

thingwall3

I followed the line of people uphill, and came to the top of the wall, with a viewing platform, and a good view of the lake and plain:

thingvellir3

thingvellir4

thingvellir5

I could also see Óli Stef from up there:

olistef3

At the top, there was also a parking area and visitors’ center.  I went in and watched a few videos on the history and geology of the place.  Apparently, the land in the plain is slowly sinking, which is why water flows over so much of the places that people once camped for the annual assembly.

Here is the view back down the path along the wall, just before I headed down that way:

thingwall4

More of the wall:

thingwall5

thingwall6

Here, marked by the flagpole, is the Law Rock, where the Law Speaker would recite the country’s laws:

lawrock1

Looking down at the plain from here:

thingvellir6

Further along the wall, I came to water flowing down from above:

thingwater1

Looking down from a bridge over the stream:

thingwater2

And here the water flows onto the plain:

thingwater3

I headed down onto the plain after that.  Here’s a view looking south:

thingvellir7

And looking back up to the Law Rock:

lawrock2

I wandered through the little collection of buildings on the plain, including a small church.  There is a graveyard there:

thinggraves

And behind the buildings is this mysterious tree:

thingconetree

A wider fissure:

thingfissure5

And here there is a diver getting ready to swim along the tectonic divide:

thingdiver

I headed back to the bike at this point, and noticed the lava rocks found around the picnic area:

lavarock1

lavarock2

On my way away from the plain, I saw some geese – a type that I don’t generally see in the US:

thinggeese1

thinggeese2

Riding eastward, I stopped to check out a couple of hiking trails in the park.  The first one took me through some tundra:

thingland1

There was a cable running across the ground, for some reason:

thingland2

I came to a waterway which had more of the neon seaweed, as well as a much stranger growth of stuff on and in the water:

thingalgae5

thingalgae3

thingalgae4

The other trail I hiked took me through a stand of evergreen trees:

thingtrail1

And then up a hill which has a neat gully cutting across it:

thingtrail2

thingtrail3

thingtrail4

There was another pleasant view from up there (looking west):

thingtrail5

Once I hiked back down from there, I rode out of the park, back toward Laugarvatn.  At the park exit, I stopped and took this picture to the north:

thingexitmount

I had a rain-free day this time, but still wanted a shower when I got back to the hostel.

I met this individual in the hostel parking lot when I arrived back:

iceorangecat1

iceorangecat2

It was very friendly, and must belong to someone, as it was wearing a collar (but no tag).

After cleaning up, I had dinner in the hostel cafe, this time getting an item not written on the menu.  It was local trout, baked with a cheese sauce, and with fried potatoes and salad on the side:

troutdinner

It was quite delicious, and a nice end to the day.

Next: back to the city

Posted by seaking on 11-09-2014 at 11:11 pm
Posted in Biking, Cats, Hiking, Surreal, Travel, Wildlife with 0 Comments

Had to Find Out Sometime

A couple of weeks ago (well before our big snowstorm), I decided to test a claim that I had made some time ago, I believe in a previous blog post (actually, the post is here).  My claim was that I could walk from my house to the top of nearby Bare Mountain in an hour’s time.

I set out in the mid-afternoon on a partly sunny day.  The hike started with a half-mile walk down the road to the trailhead.

The trailhead is in the middle of those trees.  Here you can see the entrance, down a driveway where Hadley residents are allowed to park (if they get a permit, I believe):

That guardrail looking thing is actually a gate.

I had hiked in here and up to the Notch last winter, but had kind of haphazardly made my way up.  This time I tried to be a little more systematic in my choice of trails.  As it turned out, I did not head East enough, but focused on heading South (i.e. straight up) before turning East.  I did get where I wanted to go, but ended up having to cut through on some narrow mountain bike trails to get to the proper main trail.

Just before the trail emerged from the woods, I found these concrete vent things:

Or access hatches, or whatever they are.  Seeing them, I figured that I was close to the old military reservation.  Sure enough, only steps later I came to the fence:

I turned left and made my way along the fence to the military road, and then soon came to the Notch area on route 116.  There, I was able to head up Bare Mt. on the good old M-M trail (now heading mostly West up the side of the mountain).

The path up to that peak is steep, so it was tiring going up it, but I tried to keep up my momentum.  I reached the summit with time to spare, though; the total from house to mountaintop was about 53 minutes.

Of course the sky had clouded over while I climbed, so there’s no sunlight to speak of in my pictures from the top:

That picture above is looking back toward Hadley (I crossed into the town of Amherst on my way up).  Here is the view East to Mt Norwattuck:

I spent about 10 minutes up there, and then went back the way I came.  The sun came out as I was heading down – here is a picture of the Notch visitors’ center  when I got back down to it:

A lot of people were out recreating that day, apparently, as many of them had to park on the grass.

I went back around part of the old military base and then back down the main trail, this time following it all the way back to see exactly where I should have turned off to begin with (turns out that I should have taken the first left turn after entering the woods).  Just before getting back to the first trail, I passed this little reservoir:

I had passed that on the way up, but I was on the other side of it.  Soon enough I was back on the road and then home.

 

Posted by seaking on 11-07-2011 at 11:11 pm
Posted in Hiking with 0 Comments

Refugees

Over Memorial Day weekend, I was visiting Philadelphia, and went walking in the Heinz Wildlife Refuge.  I had not been familiar with it before, but it’s many acres of preserved wetland, located right near the Philly airport.  It’s surprising, but cool, that a chunk of nature has been protected in such a heavily urban area.

A number of animal species seem to live in or visit the place, as chronicled below.

Here’s the main lake/waterway in the refuge:

There was a boardwalk across the water at one point, and it had lots of small birds flying around it.  This one hung out nearby on the railing (almost as though it was expecting to be fed or something):

I’m not sure what variety that is, but there were some blue swallows around as well.  Here’s one sitting on one of the many birdhouses constructed in the refuge:

And I (amazingly) caught one of them in flight:

I spotted this creature in the mud at the end of the boardwalk:

A turtle spotted from the walking path:

Further along, there was an egret hanging out in the water:

But then, on the other side of the water, I startled 3 egrets that I hadn’t spotted sooner.  I managed to snap a picture as they flew away:

The best find of the day, however, was seeing someone lumbering along the path ahead:

This turtle was at least 14 inches long (not including the tail).

It was obviously scared, and my flash probably didn’t help (sorry!).

 

Not pictured, a deer that ran away too quickly for me to photograph it, and several mallard ducks and Canada geese (which one can see almost anywhere).  I’d highly recommend visiting the refuge in you’re in the Philly area, as admission is free, and it’s a lovely place, at least the portion of it I got to see (which was less than half).

Posted by seaking on 07-10-2011 at 08:07 pm
Posted in Hiking, Travel with 0 Comments

Walking through woods on a snowy afternoon

2 weeks ago I went on a hike in the hills near home.  This was a few days before the big snowstorm that I chronicled in my last post, so while it was snowy, there were only a few inches of it on the ground.  That Sunday was otherwise sunny.

I hiked a half-mile down the road to the trailhead I’ve used many times before.  Here’s what it looked like once I was a little way into the forest:

I soon took a different fork than the one I’ve taken in the past – one I’ve never followed before, though I had an idea where it would take me.

It had snowed the night before, so there was stuff still clinging to the trees:

As I started climbing up toward the ridge, I noticed a number of bike tracks in the snow (usually crossing the path I was on).  I marvel that people will mountain bike in such slippery conditions, but then I’ve never been the type to be very risky, so there are a lot of things people do that seem dangerous to me.

Here’s a shot of the path being more inclined:

I also noticed little tiny pine trees that had sprouted before winter:

There were a few forks in the trail, where I had to guess which way I should go.  I was sometimes able to sight by the top of the ridge, and sometimes looking at the sun helped.  Eventually, when I got near the steep part of the ridge and started moving laterally, I followed a wide bike track (which could have come from a motorized bike of some kind).

Eventually, I spotted a chain link fence, and knew that I had gotten to the point I was expecting.  This is an old military installation:

It’s no longer run by the government, but is owned by Amherst College.  I don’t know offhand what they use it for.  I had known of the place’s existence for some time, but had never laid eyes on it before.

I followed the fence around to the front gate:

And just as I emerged from the woods onto that access road, I saw these trucks parked nearby:

Much of the Holyoke Range is state parkland, and so it would make sense that they have a facility for fighting forest fires.  Here’s the facility proper, which is on the same road (called Military Road) as the college’s property:

From there, I headed up the road toward Rt. 116, which is the main road crossing the range.  It passes through The Notch, and the point where it goes through is about where Military Road intersects it.  I crossed the highway and headed over to the Notch Visitor Center, and from there started heading downhill on another trail that I’ve used many times before (which parallels Rt. 116).

That trail dumps one out near Atkins Farms market, where I took a look at the construction they’re doing.  It looks like they’re building an addition:

Here are some pictures taken from the same spot of the peaks on either side of the Notch.  This is Bare Mountain:

That’s the Eastern end of the portion of ridge I followed, and the military reservation is a bit downslope from it.

Here is Mt. Norwattuck:

From there, I walked along the road to home.  As I passed back by the first trailhead where I’d started, I noticed the sungoing down behind the ridge, and I’ll end this post on that note:

Posted by seaking on 01-23-2011 at 09:01 pm
Posted in Hiking with 0 Comments

From Riverbank, under Roadway, to Reservoir

I previously posted about my bike trip over the July 4th long weekend.  On the Monday of that weekend, I went for an extended hike.  This was another hike of parts of the Metacomet-Monadnock trail – I covered sections 3 and 4.

As with other one-way hikes, I brought my bike along on the back of the car, parked at the end of section 4, and then biked around to the beginning of section 3.

Section 3 begins on the Northern bank of the Westfield River at a point in West Springfield (but very close to the Westfield line).  The river flows behind a bunch of businesses on US-20, and I locked up my bike in a parking lot there, then took a very short path down to the river to get some pics.  Here’s the view upriver to the West:

And downriver to the East:

From there, I went back up and crossed Route 20, to begin the hike in earnest.  This involved a bit of walking on side streets until I got to the spot where the trail actually goes into the woods.

Once that happened, I spent nearly half a mile walking near a quarry, partially using its dirt access roads.  Then, the trail went off into deeper woods near a marshy area.  Just a little ways into those woods, I came across this structure:

It was very run-down, so I don’t think it gets used any more.  Who knows what it was used for in the past – maybe camping for hunters?  (there is a sportsman’s club of some kind near the quarry)

Just after that, I came across some large and weird fungal growths:

There’s nothing in the pictures for size reference, but each of these big ones was a good 8 inches in diameter.

The trail started skirting the edge of the marsh, so I started getting pestered by mosquitoes.  I also got a few more pictures:

That lower area wasn’t completely wetland, I think, because there’s a sort-of road there, which is probably for access to the power lines that ran overhead.

Lots more traipsing through woods followed that area, without much to photograph, but I did come across an open area where a tall tree had split:

Not sure what caused it.

Eventually, section 3 comes out of the woods by the Massachusetts Turnpike.  At that point, one has to walk West alongside the pike (and a bit downhill), until you come to an underpass for an old quarry road.  Apparently, a number of people have been here – and they’ve left their marks.  Here is the underpass before I went through:

And inside:

At the far end of the tunnel is a gate you have to climb through:

Here it is from the other side:

On the far side there are railroad tracks coming by at an angle, which also go under the Pike:

And a bunch more graffiti – these being focused on flowers!

Perhaps someone wanted to help Nature reassert itself on all this concrete in its midst.   🙂

Once I crossed the train tracks, I was at the end of section 3.  I sat down and ate the lunch I’d brought.  It was a very hot day (temp in the 90’s) so I was trying to make my 2 bottles of water last.  Fortunately, I’d packed a nice, juicy peach, and didn’t need to drink so much with my food.  (a peach has never tasted so good)

Having eaten, I commenced section 4.  It differs from section 3 in being on higher ground, so even though it’s also very wooded, there are views to be seen.  Also, there are old communication towers:

Those are 2 different towers that I passed.  These are on a ridge that runs North-South, and which has a number of views to the West. Here’s a view of Barnes Airport in Westfield:

Last Fall, I had taken a picture of that airport from the other side, while biking past on Route 202.  At the time, I remember seeing the ridge and the towers beyond, and though of that this time.

I was also high enough up to have birds of prey flying around.  Here are 2 that passed almost directly over me:

Later in the section, I saw some views of the Western part of Holyoke:

Soon after that, I got a little lost.  The M-M trail is marked with white paint blazes on tree trunks (and occasionally on rocks).  There was a point where I found a double blaze, which indicates a change in trail direction, and then saw a blaze on a tree off to my right.  I headed off in that direction, and then had trouble locating another blaze or a well-traveled path.  I did find one old, faded blaze, but nothing beyond that.  I tied looking in several directions for 15 minutes or so (worrying about my water supply), until finally I made my way back to the double-blaze marker and looked further along that trail.  Sure enough the trail continued on what looked like a trail, and then made a slight turn to the left.  So, I got underway again.  After nearly another hour, I came down to US-202 in Holyoke, near the McLean Reservoir, where I had parked the car (in which I had extra water stashed).

Total hiking distance was about 8 miles.

Posted by seaking on 08-19-2010 at 11:08 am
Posted in Hiking with 0 Comments

As seen in forest and supermarket

A week ago I went for a hike on trails that are nearby our house.  When I say nearby, I mean that they’re behind the houses that are across the road from us.

I hadn’t had a chance to explore these trails much the last time I was on them, but I had time to go further this time, hiking uphill on something called the “College Trail.”  This leads up the North side of the Holyoke Range, joining other trails and eventually linking up with the Metacomet-Monadnock trail.  I didn’t make it quite that far up, as it was late in the afternoon and I needed to get back home before sundown.

I did see something I don’t think I’ve noticed on other local trails – a tree with graffiti carved in it:

The oldest carving seems to be from 1979, assuming that it was actually carved that year and not backdated by the carver.

In an unrelated event, I was in the grocery store the following day, and I saw an unusual sign in the frozen foods aisle.  This is something one hears a lot about in modern American political discourse, but I didn’t think it was available for purchase at one’s local supermarket:

There you have it.

Posted by seaking on 01-24-2010 at 09:01 pm
Posted in Hiking, Surreal with 0 Comments

Canada: Sand, Salt, and Cedars

This is my final post from the trip to Canada last month.  Toward the end of the week there, I got a chance to go hiking in Kouchibouguac National Park, which is about an hour North of the city of Moncton.

Something that’s interesting about the park is the variety of different types of forest and other vegetation found there.  The first trail we hiked was through a fairly deciduous forest, with some tall pines (and wild blueberry bushes!), and it came out on a tidal bay, pictured here:

kou-bay1

kou-bay2

Here’s a slightly different part of the bay, seen at a different point on the trail:

kou-bay3

I don’t know exactly what this thing is for, but I would guess it’s supposed to be visible from well out in the water:

pointy

The next trail was a boardwalk that went out onto a dune and barrier island:

dunebeach1

dunebeach2

Dune grass:

dunegrass

A sandpiper:

sandpiper

The estuary between dunes and shore:

estuary

After that, we took a short trail that went through a salt marsh.  Here’s a picture of the marsh grass:

saltmarsh

According to one of the signs, some of what grows there is known as elephant grass, which can get as tall as 3 meters!

On the way back from that trail, near the parking area, I spotted this critter:

caterpillar1

To give you an idea of its size, here it is in front of my foot:

caterpillar2

Next we went on a trail through a cedar forest.  The cedars are traditionally considered sacred by the Mi’kmaq Nation, and the tribe has a wigwam near the trailhead for teaching visitors about their customs and culture:

wigwam1

Nothing was going on inside while we were there:

wigwam2

wigwam3

The trail itself certainly had a number of cedar trees, some of which had a strange-looking moss growing on them:

cedarmoss1

cedarmoss2

We went on one more trail after that, which supposedly contained an abandoned beaver lodge, but at the point where a sign talked about the lodge, it was completely hidden from view by bushes.  No pictures from that trail.

The total hiking distance was around 10 km, and we spent about 4.5 hours there (including a break for lunch).  It’s a lovely park, and I hope to go again sometime.  If you should ever find yourself there, though, bring some mosquito repellent, because there are great hordes of the insects there.

Posted by seaking on 09-15-2009 at 09:09 pm
Posted in Hiking, Travel with 0 Comments

« Previous Entries