What's Your Nature?
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An early July trip to Wanakena for a walk on the Dead Creek Flow trail yielded some great encounters! This very mellow trail, with mostly imperceptible elevation change, cuts through deciduous woods and grasses past swamps and beaver ponds. Conifers mix in to some stretches of trail. Accordingly, there was a nice diversity of flora and fauna, including deer, birds, and more dragonflies than I have ever seen in one place.
The Nature Up North team had a blast leading a papermaking workshop on Saturday. We started out by exploring the plants around the Wachtmeister Field Station, and learning which had the best papermaking potential. Then we headed inside to make paper out of pulp made from the invasive common reed, decorating it with flower petals and leaves.
The sweltering heat subsided just in time for a comfortable stroll down the Kip Trail while learning about nocturnal animal adaptations. After recognizing the heightened senses used in nocturnal navigation, the group turned back for a relaxing evening around the fire, enjoying s'mores and an impressive array of summer fireflies.
Found a cool plant on the other side of the Little River from the Saddlemire Trail: this Canada Moonseed, a climbing vine that strongly resembles wild grape. Its fruits look exactly like grapes, but they are toxic! The best way to tell the two apart is by looking at the seeds: moonseed fruits have a single large, crescent-shaped seed, while grapes have multiple teardrop-shaped seeds.
Sunset in Massena
This trek was on some of the old Grasse River Rail Road bed, south of Massawepie Lake. This crosses the Massawepie mire, an amazing tamarack wetland. At over 3000 acres, this is said to be the largest non coastal wetlands in NY. There is an organization that is trying to open up this entire stretch from Cranberry Lake to Conifer, you can check out what they are doing at http://grasseriverrrtrail.org/ .
Found some beautiful white water lilies on Tooley Pond, bobbing on the wind-rippled water.
I smelled woodsmoke while swimming at the sand banks on the Grass River. At first I assumed there was a bonfire at one of the houses, but the scent was odd, and very bitter. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye: beside the remains of a fire, there was smoke coming out of the ground. The fire must not have been put out fully, because it had burrowed under the ground, burning through fallen pine needles and fine rootlets. When I found it, it had spread in branching patterns over about a square foot of ground, and it was expanding towards the rest of the forest.