Sunday, March 26, 2023

Part 3 of Our 3.9 Mile Hike: Learning by Hiking

 Before we get started, I want to bring your attention to the Ossipee Pine Barrens  in New Hampshire. I learned about this rare ecosystem after my Mom read part two of this series; A Rare Find on the Southeastern Border and asked if NH's fire history and sandy soil meant that it had Pitch pines. 

While researching her inquiry, I found that Pitch Pine - Scrub Oak communities are globally rare and that Pitch pines are most prevalent in the state of NH. The Ossipee Pine Barrens: "This place was shaped more than ten thousand years ago when retreating ice age glaciers left behind a broad, deep sandy outwash plain..."  If NH's Pitch pines are of further interest to you, this report is a good read.

I wonder if a survey in the area of Vernon's own Outwash Plain Pondshore (Lily pond) would locate additional Pitch pines?

Part three

In the previous two thirds of this series I discussed how both natural and man made disturbances relate to successional growth. I wrote about a new subdivision on Scott Road, the logging activity as we hiked east, a possible fire disturbance, insect, fungus & wildlife activity (porcupine).

 Additional disturbances include; mowing, the spread of invasive species, flooding and windthrow. Windthrow would include the weather event Vernon experienced this March where whole trees, weighted down by the heavy, wet late winter snowstorm were blown down and or slid down slopes and ledges.  

Wayne and I left you on top of a range on the VT- MA border heading east.  When on Pond road facing the range east of Scott road, a hill can be easily picked out from the others. This is the location where we begin this third leg of our hike. 

On the map, this is the area along the border east of what seems to be a branch of Newton Brook. Our destination is Vernon Advent Christian Church located on VT 142.

Bob warned us not to get turned around on the logging roads in this area and that turned out to be a fair warning.

Some of these roads split only to rejoin later on, some dead end and still others take you to areas you never intended to go. We decided to try the road on the left; but later abandoned it in favor of  staying as much as we could along the border. 

I decided to cut straight up the hill to check out a boulder, while Wayne followed the road for a bit longer.

This elongated cone on a stout branch seemed out of place here. It reminded me of a spruce cone; but being so small I decided that it was too difficult for me to tell.

My path intersected with Wayne's,

and so we continued up the hill together,

where the mountains across the river came back into view.

Though my attention was caught by the stones in the area.

Wayne paused by a small thicket of Eastern Mountain Laurel until I caught up.

This native shrub grows at a slow rate, growing less than twelve inches in a year.

Wayne decided that the road was taking too long and so abandoned it.

We found on this slope, coyote scat adjacent to deer scat.

Picking our way through logged areas is a special kind of fun.

There is a lot of deer scat in this area. We counted seven piles within steps of each other.
It seems that Wayne had decided that it was time to relocate towards the border and so he began his descent.

I on the other hand am never really ready to leave, so this quartz / plant combination gave me the perfect excuse to linger. I believe this plant to be Wintergreen but am positive that my readers will correct me if I got it wrong.

Shagbark hickory is a climax species. This is the only instance that we encountered it on this hike.  

Wayne scouts out the best path down the hill.

Snowmelt starts to collect,

before forming a seasonal brook. Vernal pools have no inlets or outlets.

We were in the rhythm of the hike and felt like it would be easy going from here on out.

If only we had paid attention to the signs of what lay ahead!

I don't know about you, but for us one of the last things that we want to encounter near the end of a hike is logging and there was plenty of that going on up there. 

Even so beauty and interest is still to to be found.

This stump is as wide as my trekking pole is long.

Yup, logging makes for some mighty fine hiking! It's just an extra bonus to find that you must hike through water as well.

Black Cherry

Turkey tracks

A no trespassing sign of sorts in the working landscape.

In the end, we arrived at the church just as the last vehicle was pulling out of the parking lot after a service.

I'd like to take a few words to thank the church, Bob, and others who leave their land open to hunters and to hikers like Wayne and I. Doing so allows us to explore and learn about Vernon's natural communities and to share with those who aren't able for whatever reason to enjoy the opportunity to connect with nature in person. - Norma Manning