Weekly Walk 8

This week is the tenth since the autumnal equinox and as predicted, it was once again our chilliest hike yet.

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We went with our friend Linda again, and she’d heard it was the coldest day since March 29th of this year, back when we were still buried in snow. It was 20°F on our home thermometer when we left, and Linda said it read 26°F in her car when she arrived at the trailhead. So, chilly.

Luckily it was also sunny. We turned our faces into the sunlight and felt slightly warmer.

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I convinced my son to wear a base layer this week. He insisted that this meant he didn’t need his winter coat, but I brought it along in the car just in case. Sure enough, although he bounded to the trail coatless, in less than a minute, he’d stomped back to the car, irritated to admit that he needed his coat after all.

This week’s finds:

More ice on the river.

In the upper middle, you can see the edge of the ice where the river flows.

In the upper middle and right, you can see the edge of the ice where the river flows.

Most of the time, we can’t tell which way the current runs; the water looks mostly still to us. Today, however, the thin layer of ice was cut through with a lane that showed the flow of the water.

My kids were thrilled because when they pressed on ice near the shore, water splashed up from underneath the other edge of the ice out in the middle of the water. They also liked that when my son tossed frozen dirt clods onto the ice, neither the ice nor the dirt clods broke apart. The dirt clods simply skittered across the surface.

The edge of the ice.

The edge of the ice.

 

More frost.

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Frost on a corn tassel.

 

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Frost on an oak leaf.

 

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Frost masquerading as thorns.

 

Foamy ice (or icy foam?) on the creek.

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Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) from a distance. In my peripheral vision, these registered as just a red haze, which was confusing to me until I turned my head and saw it was actually berries.

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Beech trees (Fagus grandifolia), which were very noticeable now that pretty much everything else has lost its leaves.

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Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) berries.

Turkey Tail fungus (Trametes versicolor). My kids identified these.

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Animal tracks on the sandy spot next to the creek that we call “Squirrel Beach”. We think these are dog (Canis lupus familiaris) and raccoon (Procyon lotor).

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A new (to us) type of fern. Maybe it’s Polystichum acrostichoides or Polypodium appalachianum? Or maybe it’s neither of these. Ferns are somewhat mysterious to me. The smaller pinnae near the ends of the fronds have brownish undersides on which my camera refused to focus.

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And whatever the heck these are on the back of this leaf.

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Like last week, by the time we got back to the river, my son had shed hat, mittens, and coat. Unlike last week, the river still had as much ice on it on our way back as it had on the way there.

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Not pictured is the man we met on the trail. My children noticed only his dog, who (said the man) was “friendly but slobbery.” I, however noticed that the man was wearing a hoody, hiking boots, and cargo shorts on a day when I wished for a balaclava.

Yes, two weeks in a row I’ve mentioned balaclavas, and it likely won’t be the last time. I’ve got thin California blood, and while I force myself out into the New England cold, I do so only reluctantly and clad in layers upon layers of fleece. Next week—unless we have a heat wave—we’re bringing hand warmers, at least for my daughter and me (and Linda, if she joins us).

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