Last Hike

A sllideshow

Thank You for exploring the South Rim trail of Taughannock Falls State Park on the last perfectly sunny autumn day of 2019.

A sunny November Walk

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Click me for the first post of this series, “Cuteness Break.”

Night Blooming Cereus IX

Mass Bloom

It is possible to puzzled over my choice of an ungainly potted plant acquired over three years ago from the Eddydale farm stand. We popped in for tomatoes, sweet corn and watermelons after a hike along nearby Treman Park, I spotted the plant on display in the front. The cashier suggested we visit the greenhouse to view the parent, currently in bloom. Memory of the those blossoms were short lived as we lived with this collection of malformed green lobes sprouting long stalks.

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The plant occupied a pool-side water barrel summers, a bedroom corner winters. This year, 2021, flower buds formed late July, each on a lengthening stalk, and have continued into October. “Dutchman’s pipe cactus” is a popular name, from the appearance of the flower on the end of a stalk turned up with a terminal curve.

On a September morning we were expecting guests I walked out to find four blooms fulling open. Grabbing an available camera (Sony Alpha 700 with a DT 18 – 200 mm F3.5 – 6.3 lens) I captured these images of the event.

Enjoy!!

Click me for another flower post, “Another Woody Peony.”

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Pinelands Connections IX

What is a Collier?

Here my exploration of Wharton State Forest, Pitch Pine Forest III, branches to the genealogical exploration of this landscape as my sister, Theresa and I, proceed along the humped, pitted sand road Goodwater through the wilderness to emerge in Batsto Village, a recreation of lives that touched my great great grandparents, James and Ann McCambridge among them. Ann saved money earned as a cook for Atsion furnace, the historical site at the start of the road to Quaker Bridge. Her husband James worked as a collier, supplying fuel for the iron furnaces at Atsion and Batsto, among other enterprises. During our Batsto Village visit we found these reproductions of charcoal clamps.

Since earliest times charcoal was used for cooking and heating. It was the best heat source for metal furnaces. Entire deforested regions are attributed to the demand for charcoal. Thomas Jefferson experimented with charcoal clamp designs, modifying air flow from the base.

James and Ann lived on the land that provided a livelihood, enough to support themselves and nine (9) children. From September 7, 1850 is the US Census for this family of my second great grandparents. Great Grandmother Margaret was 11 years. James is listed as a Collier, the value of Real Estate owned was 6,000 (a fortune for the time).

Like is wife Ann, James had a savings account…..

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Pitch Pine Forest III

Road to Batsto

Leaving the jeep on the west side of Quaker Bridge, I walked over to inspect the structure and poke around the other side, carrying a Canon 5d Mark IV (camera body) / EF 70 – 300 mm f/4-5.6 L IMS (lens), shooting as I walked. My sister Theresa and Maxie, a little white dog, lagged behind taking in the surroundings. Here they are, in shadow, on the west side.

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My work on the east side was shared in previous posts, “Pinelands Connections VIII,” I and II “Around Quaker Bridge,” and I and II “Pitch Pine Forest,” work interrupted by the sound of an approaching engine, a Humvee came into view. I waved my arm up and down, a sign to slow down, pulling alongside the driver looked up with dead eyes, no element of recognition of a fellow human, as I explained my sister was on the bridge. A stink of unfamiliar hydrocarbons, diesel fuel?, rose through the heat as they pulled forward with no acknowledgement of my request. Thankfully they slowed down as Theresa, Max in her arms, said, “hi.”

Multiple roads converge from all directions on Quaker Bridge, using GoogleMaps (surprising these unimproved, “jeep” sand roads were listed) I chose Goodwater Road as a route to Batsto Village, on the southern side of Wharton State Forest. The 6.1 mile road follows the east bank of Mullica River at a distance, a very rough passage through ancient Pitch Pine forest. Here are photographs of the enormous capacity of the pines to regrow after fire. Note a thick seeding growth among the mature pine trunks, lower portions fire blackened.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Pitch Pine Forest II

Multiple Lives

These photographs were taken deep in the wilderness of Wharton State forest, near where Quaker Bridge spans the Mullica River.

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The pitch pine is irregular in shape, in these forests a mature tree typically lives through multiple cycles of fire and regrowth.

Burnt pitch pines often form stunted, twisted trees with multiple trunks as a result of resprouting. Bonsai artists exploit this characteristic for their creations.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Pitch Pine Forest I

The Pinus Genera

The 115,000 acres of Wharton State Forest are predomenantly Pitch Pine, scientific name Pinus Rigida, and AKA Black Pine and Hard Pine. Climb the fire tower of Apple Pie Hill, in all directions will be a sea of these trees interspersed here and there with occasional oaks. Cedars mark water courses. These photographs, unless otherwise identified, were taken deep in the forest, near where Quaker Bridge spans the Mullica River.

A mature Pitch Pine has bark of large, thick, irregular plates, adapted to survive forest first, similar to another member of the Pinus genera, the Ponderosa Pine.

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Open-growth trees begin bearing cones in as little as three years, with shade-inhabiting pines taking a few years longer. The cones are 4–7 cm (1+1⁄2–2+3⁄4 in) long and oval, with prickles on the scales. Cones take two years to mature. Seed dispersal occurs over the fall and winter.

Unlike the another member of genus Pinus, the Pinyon Pine, the seeds released by Pitch Pine cones are not sought out for human consumption.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Autumn Mushroom

Moments from a September backpack

A budding mushroom

Autumn Mushroom

among autumn leaf litter

along mountain shores

Peaked Mountain

Peaked Mountain and Pond, Siamese Ponds Wilderness, The Adirondacks

Click this link for my Online Gallery, “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”

Copyright 2021All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Indian Summer Afternoons

Each year I make a point of walking Cascadilla Gorge at least once in the fall.  This week on a 84 degree October 9th afternoon Pam was too busy with chores, I parked in “downtown” Ithaca and stopped by the grandchildren’s.  They were hanging out with Mom and were “just too tired” after school to do anything.  Well the middle child, 4 years old, was open to visiting the skate board park and ,for me, that was not going to happen.  I ambled from there, up Court Street, past the Buddhist monk residence at the entrance to Cascadilla Gorge.

The gorge is part of Cornell Botanic Gardens (until recently it was called the Plantations), the organization of the university bureaucracy responsible for elements of the campus.  Cascadilla Gorge, running from Ithaca and through the campus, is one of those elements.  Today, the traffic of people going into and out of the gorge was light and a sign provided the reason: the path was closed at Stewart Avenue, there the bridge crosses above the gorge.  Instead to passed by the Christian Scientist Church on the north side of the gorge and walk up the winding Cascadilla Park Road to the gorge rim trail that climbs East Hill to the Cornell Campus.

The trail is lined with homes, porches on the gorge side where the sounds of creek and falls can be enjoyed.  I was not feeling ambitious, so took a few snapshots with my phone.  Here is path approaches a porch build from the “bluestone”, a type of feldspathic sandstone, native to this area.

Click the photographs for my OnLine Gallery “Finger Lakes Memories.”

This pot is visible in the previous shot, here is a closer view of the bluestone.

The fall to the gorge floor is steep, several hundred feet in places.  The barrier fence here appears solid, in places it barely exists.  A few years ago a recent Cornell graduate, coming home late from a bar on this path, was found dead in the gorge the following day from a fall.  I continued along the trail until the path fork over to the Ithaca City Cemetery where it is possible to climb West Hill to Stewart Avenue.  Turn right to reach the bridge over Cascadilla Gorge, another right onto the Gorge Rim Trail and back down to Ithaca.  I noticed at the bridge part of the work that closed the gorge was a repainting of the bridge and the suicide prevention fence below the bridge.  On September 24, 15 days before, a senior year Cornell student jumped off the bridge into the fence and was rescued by the fire department.

It is possible to stand next to the concrete barrier of the above snapshot to see this view into the gorge.  I enjoy the beautiful view, the sound of the water and leave the dark stuff where it belongs, at least until I notice the bridge and net are freshly painted.

Last year Pam and I walked Cascadilla with our granddaughter, here she is on that walk next to Cascadilla Creek.  There are large and small waterfalls the length of the gorge trail.

I took this photograph in 2005, the September before my previous post, “Autumn Stroll in Sapsucker Woods” with the Kodak DSC pro slr-c, an ND filter, 50 mm lens and a tripod. It was a planned session, I work waterproof boots and was able to stand in the creek after a series of rain-free days. At this time of the year the gorge opens to the setting sun. I waited, taking a series of photographs for the perfect amount of light on the footbridge. The feature photograph (the header to this posting) is a detail from a shot with the bridge more fully lit.

We have this photograph print framed, I had it mounted as a gift to Pam on our first Valentine’s day. It will make an excellent Christmas or Birthday gift.

Click the photograph for this offering in my OnLine Gallery “Finger Lakes Memories”
“September Sunset in Cascadilla Gorge”
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Climb to Gorge Trail

Potential danger abounds

Capturing photographs and videos on the fly using an Iphone, we visited Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, New York with our granddaughter, Nia. This is the third post of this series. Click me for the first post in this series.

Emerging from the blind canyon of Cowsheds Waterfall, we are faced with this gorgeous pool fed by Dry Creek (yes, that is the name). Formed by a dam, the water is deep and very cold.

We were standing on this footbridge for the above photograph. The trail to Cowsheds is on the far side of Dry Creek and to the right.

We have yet to count these steps, don’t know why. The limestone blocks were quarried locally from the same stone of the creek bed. The gorge trail begins at the top.

Trillium Seed Capsule

This is a Purple Trillium, I believe, formal name Trillium erectum. It is a large specimen judging form the width of the bracts, leaf like structures at the based of the flower stalk. When fertilized, the ovaries form this seed capsule containing up to 16 seeds, each with lipid with a high content of oleic acid. During summer, the capsule opens, seeds disperse. Ants encounter the seed elaiosome, the oleic acid content triggers “corpse carrying behavior.” The ants carry the seeds into their nests, consume the lipids leaving the seeds. After a year dormancy the seeds sprout and the additional depth in the ant nest provides a good start.

Trillium are a favorite food of deer, unfortunately. Some seeds are spread this way, passing through the digestive tract and out in fecal waste. I use the color of the seed capsule to identify it was Purple Trillium. In my experience the white variety (Trillium grandiflorum, and others) has a light colored seed capsule.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Night Blooming Cereus VIII

reaction to cold temperature

Our “Night Blooming Cereus” is blooming earlier in 2021, blooms opened twice during nights of early August. I put the name in quotes because during the course of writing the first seven posts ( I through VII ) I learned this is NOT a member of the genus Cereus, it is actually an epiphyte of the Epiphyllum genus.

For those familiar with the early history of New York City and Hudson Valley it is easy to see why a common name of the plant is “Dutchman’s Pipe Cactus.”

Click me for another Night Blooming Cereus Cereus flower post.

References

Wikipedia, “Epiphyllum”, “Epiphyllum oxypetalum,”epiphyte.”

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved