Snowy Walk In The Woods

Today we were blessed with beautiful, lightly falling snow so I took a very long walk in the woods. Not only was I feeling sort of cooped up today, but I was experiencing that feeling you get (often at work) when your space is a mess, and you just know that you are not going to be able to do anything productive until you clean it up. My mind was feeling a bit like that and so I decided that a long walk might do the trick. 

There is nothing like a long, quiet walk in the woods to help you sort out your head. I spend equal parts thinking and not thinking while I walk. Usually I have a somewhat designated route in mind, but today I just wandered for a few hours. Slowly sorting the detritus of my head into categories, tossing stray thoughts into mental boxes, and arranging the boxes in the closet of my mind. 

my “thinking” Oak

There is little pond up the hill from my house that I visit often. I like to sit at the base of the Oak tree that grows on the bank and just think. It’s a quiet spot and there are always acorns to toss into the pond, which make satisfying little plops and rings in the water in the summer months. In the winter there is usually ice to skim them across. Today the snow prevented acorn tossing, so I hiked on. 

sitting spot – favorite sitting root hidden by snow

The sun kept trying to come out today and occasionally you could see it shining through the clouds. It lit up this patch of Pines so I stopped for awhile and just kind of admired how it was sunny and cloudy and snowy all at the same time. 

The back side of the swamp ponds is pretty. You can only walk through this side in the winter once things freeze up. The water isnt that deep here, but goes over your boots in the summer. Kinda fun to walk around the big dead trees. Rescued a lure I lost this summer. 

back side of swamp ponds
recent blow down

Took to the back ridge for awhile and got onto some deer tracks from last night. Looking like a little superhighway. Lead right to where they have been bedding down. Actually spooked a few out and they took off. We are now into February and food is getting more limited, so there is a lot of activity all around the Oak trees. They have tore up the ground pretty good looking for acorns. 

last night’s deer room with a view
open buffet

I love this little stream that winds along the side of this Spruce stand. It runs all year. The water in the stream was crystal clear. Followed that as it meandered for awhile.

I have always loved this little patch of clubmoss (Lycopodium obscurum). Many call it ‘Princess Pine’. Neat little plant. Love the way the little their little strobili (now we’re getting plant dorky, for simplicity’s sake let’s call them cones….) were sticking up out of the snow.

clubmoss

I took a diversity of plants class in college as an elective. Only woody trees and shrubs was required, but I took all the plant courses. That course focused on mosses, ferns, liverworts and other assorted types of plants…. and clubmoss in particular have always been one of my favorites. They are protected in New York State. Years ago people used to pick them for Christmas arrangements and whatnot and as usual, they overdid it. Patches like this can take years to form. They only grow where the conditions are just right. Unique little friends.

snowy Balsams

On the way back I wandered through this stand of Balsams. Kicked out a few grouse. Scared the heck out of me. Love the way the snow collects on the Balsams. Also the most delicious smelling portion of my walk. I will post the snowy video to Facebook/Instagram accounts.

Arrived back home wonderfully tired and feeling a little sorted out in my head. Nature sure is good for that. 

Whenever I walk in the woods in the winter I always think about the Robert Frost poem ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’. We had a copy of Frost’s poems when I was a kid and my dad used to read to me from it. This one has always been my favorite. I will leave you with my favorite lines from it…

Liz

 

“The only other sound’s the sweep, 

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.”

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, 1923

View From Ampersand Mountain, Watercolor and Pen

I created a mixed media piece today based on a photo I took during a hike in the Adirondacks. This is one of the views from Ampersand Mountain, which is located between Upper Saranac Lake and the actual town of Saranac Lake. The access to the trail is right across from Middle Saranac Lake.

Saranac Lake region

This is an easy and quick 2.7 mile hike, but it is the quick change in elevation that makes it challenging. In that 2.7 miles you gain 1,775 feet in elevation. As usual, the last third of the trail is the hardest part. The summit is 3,353 feet.

north west view of Upper and Middle Saranac Lakes

From the summit, the view looking north west over looks all the Saranac lakes and the view looking south east overlooks the high peaks. It was the view of the high peaks that I chose for this painting. It really is a tremendous view of the high peak region.

south east view of the high peak region

I always loved this photo because of the all the different shades of blue as the mountains recede. The farther away the mountains are, the lighter and lighter they become. The sky was amazing that day. Blue and clear with puffy white clouds. Perfect for seeing a long distance.

I don’t usually illustrate my paintings first, but this was pretty fun. I enjoyed the ability to add detail to the trees and clouds, then use the paints to create the shading.

I kept the pencil sketch real simple. Just enough to develop a simple line drawing with pen. I used a waterproof Micron so that the ink would not bleed and run when I started painting over it.

The pen sketch adds more detail than the pencil drawing. I love the way the Balsams get all scraggly on the top of the mountain. Life is pretty hard up there. The diversity of plant life, and how tough those plants are, amazes me every time.

I didn’t want to go very dark with this painting. By keeping it lighter I was able to keep the subtle changes in shades of blue and grey to represent the distance.

This was a fun experiment. I like the illustrated look of the pen and watercolor together. Definitely will try this again.

Liz

Wolfe Park

The weather this weekend was unheard of. 50s and beautiful, which for this area of New York in January is amazing. So my fellow hiker friend Jamie and I decided to take a hike at Wolfe Park. 

She and I have been working our way through the “Broome County Dozen Hiking Challenge” since early summer. The challenge is to hike twelve different locations throughout our county. This was #7 for us. 

fungus on tree

Wolfe Park is a 182 acre park in the Town of Chenango (see map here) and offers over 4 miles of trail. Today we pretty much hiked all of it. And a lot that was not a trail. 

Our hike started out along a ridge that overlooks a stream bed featuring many small waterfalls. The drop down to the steam is a very steep 100’. We walked the red Rim Trail, around the Blue Bird trail and up the long, uphill and aptly named, Hill Trail. Unfortunately many of these trails were not very well marked, and we had a few backtracks and some minor, but fun bushwhacking. 

We decided to go the long way out and re-do the Rim Trail to see if we could find the elusive waterfall we read about. We slid/hiked down the bank to the stream bed in a few places and discovered a few smaller waterfalls. However we still hadn’t seen anything that could have counted as any big waterfall. 

We did finally find “the big waterfall” so of course I scaled the 100’ cliff for a third time to get the shot. Worth it. 

the “big” waterfall

Over the course of the late morning we hiked the 4 miles and hit every trail at least once. It was a beautiful day and we felt very fortunate to have the nice weather to get this hike in. 

Wolfe Park was a very pretty trail. The sunlight through the trees in the morning on the Rim Trail was beautiful. During this time of the year the sun never gets very high and it was a soft, slanted light. I enjoyed the way it lit up the green moss growing on the fallen trees. 

the view from the bottom of the cliff
Winterberry (Gaultheria procumbens,)

Very enjoyable. It felt so good to get outside. I would like to do this hike again in the spring. Perhaps find some Trilliums and such.

Liz