Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kanape Brook Trail to Ashokan High Point

I've been cooped up in a lab a lot lately, and I've been really itching to get out on a nice winter hike.

I have wanted to check out the rest of the Kanape Brook trail, to the Ashokan High Point for a while. We have some red oak research plots about a mile up the trail, but I had never been any further. (To the right is Kanape Brook, as seen in the afternoon on the walk back down. )

A friend I met during the Hubbard Brook REU program in 2009 drove up from Long Island Saturday morning. We got to the trail head around 9:30am, signed in at the registry box and started up the trail. It snowed the night before, along with some sleet, and we were the first ones on the trail! The snow was still very packed so snow shoes weren't needed, although if we wanted to do any serious bushwhacking they would be essential.

The Kanape Brook trail is an old abandoned carriage road. The forest along the road had been burned periodically for blueberries, which were picked by the locals during the Great Depression and sold to NYC markets. The trail follows a very gradual incline up and has flat stretches passing through some thick mountain laurel patches and a small (and very beautiful but odd/out-of-place) planted norway spruce grove. The trail for the most part is pretty rocky, but it is not noticeable with the winter snow pack, and it seems to be a popular cross country ski route.
As we gained elevation the forest gradually became blanketed in a thick sheet of ice. Every branch of every tree and shrub was encased in a layer of glistening ice.

I was checking out some ice damage.

Towards the high point the trail begins to get steep, then flat, and then several short steep sections before arriving at an opening in the trail providing a beautiful view (below).

Despite the cloudy day there was still a beautiful view from the summit (below), which is covered in stunted oaks and mountain laurel.

While at the top I noticed movement in the corner of my eye from up in a tree, and I discovered we were actually intruding upon someone else who was already there enjoying a meal and the great view.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Around the lab

Stissing Mtn

I needed a break from everything and I was getting a bit antsy from being inside so much lately, so last Saturday morning I finally made it over to Stissing Mountain in Pine Plains (NY). It is a short and easy drive from Millbrook up 82.

Stissing Mtn is part of a 500-acre preserve run by the Nature Conservancy, their blurb about it is available here.

The hike up is short and a bit steep. The trail starts across the street from a small parking area and leads through an old fence and up an incline and gradually levels out a little bit before it comes to a fork. The trail on the left, according to two different people I spoke to, is shorter but steeper, but they both lead to the fire tower. I was already in a t-shirt and I wanted something more challenging so I continued up the left trail.

Although the snow was up to my knees, the trail was very packed and I didn't need the snowshoes I brought.

Not the best panoramic image, but it gives you an idea of the wonderful view from the fire tower. All of the Hudson Valley that I have seen is a patchwork of forest and fields, it is a perfect example of forest fragmentation.

Before I left I made a little snowman!

On my way out I found a Nikon lens cap in the snow. . Maybe the owner will read this? Unlikely, but I put it on the fence post at the beginning of the trail, below the snowman.

Portsmouth, NH

I have a huge backlog of posts to finish and put up. Most of my free time as of late has been consumed by other things (such as applying to graduate school) But I hope to get back on track this month.

On new year's day, me and Jacqui went to one of our favorite places on the seacoast, Portsmouth.

two views of the the Veteran Memorial Bridge

You can take a look at some of Jacqui's photos from the day here- Wreaths and Pigeons