From the Northern Veg Crew:
We truly are lucky up here. One of our first plots brought us to a relaxing riparian area complete with all the hemlocks and moss that we wanted. I had to pause for a moment to enjoy this moss-covered spring feeding into this stream. These are the days that remind us why we suffer the bad ones!
We found both chicken of the woods (the orange one) and oyster mushrooms in the same area! Yum! PSA: don’t ever eat any mushrooms from the forest unless you are positive of the identification.
Due to the number of trails and logging roads we have up here, we rarely have to hike more than half a mile. However, that is not always the case. This week for our final day we got to enjoy a two-mile hike on one of Susquehannock’s wonderful trails!
No doubt due to the remoteness of this plot, we had some of the biggest trees in the most pristine woods we have seen so far. Nothing like a good break from beating yourself up navigating through brambles and cherry thickets!
And check out this moth. Pretty neat!
Northern Veg Crew Leader
From the Southern Veg Crew:
When we are out doing vegetation sampling in Bald Eagle State Forest, we tend to run into rattlesnakes more often than in Rothrock. This week has been no different! We name all rattlesnakes we meet “Steve.” I don’t ask why this name was picked.
Curtis and I had finished measuring and counting understory vegetation in a plot and started measuring trees when we heard the rattle of a snake. Curtis was closer and sighted him first. Steve was moving toward our backpacks! I grabbed the backpacks before the he got too close and we had only one tree left to measure, which was far enough away from Steve for us to finish unimpeded.
On our way to the second plot of the day, there was another Steve basking on the road. We did not realize it was a snake until we were driving over it. We stopped to make sure Steve was unharmed. Other than being exceptionally angry, he was ok!
There were several noteworthy plots this week. I took a picture of a striped maple (Acer pennsylvanicum) leaf that was bigger than my hand. I also came across a pair of orchid leaves on the trail.
Along the same trail we came across a reproductive American chestnut (Castanea dentata). Chestnuts were the most common tree in the Northeast before chestnut blight. The shoots from unaffected root systems rarely grow to reproductive size which is why seeing a big tree is such a big deal. We measured the diameter at breast height (dbh) and got 9.5 inches!
We also found trash along the trail – a balloon. Balloons are often released by accident or deliberately and end up as trash. They pollute wild areas and threaten wildlife. Everyone should have a greater awareness of the consequences of their actions. Balloons are a big deal.
Southern Veg Crew
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