Thursday, October 28, 2010

Schoodic Mountain

On nearly the final day of our vacation we set off through the Maine woods to climb Schoodic Mountain, which rises on the mainland with a commanding view past Mount Desert Island and beyond to the open ocean. Looking north, one sees unbroken forest canopy and in the far distance Mount Katahdin, Maine's tallest peak and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

Large boulders, decaying logs and colorful leaves made this a wonderful hike.

Here a piece of bark from the White Birch tree rests among the leaf litter on the forest floor.

Beech trees were turning a golden yellow.

Amazingly, even this fungi was a bright yellow.

This log had many shelf fungi displaying concentric lines of brown and white.

There were even some of the "classic" variety of toadstool, with stem and cap.

We saw lichens, liverworts, and mosses galore. This image shows browning leaves among the Reindeer Moss (Cladonia rangiferina). It is actually a lichen, not a moss. And, yes, Reindeer do eat them (though there are not Reindeer in Maine).

These colorful fungi were peeking through the leaf litter as well. It was as if even the fungi wanted to get in on the colorful autumn celebration.

Overhead, a Hairy Woodpecker was hard at work on a decaying tree. I was initially disappointed when it took flight, but then became elated as it landed on a closer trunk with this gorgeous background of golden foliage framing it.

These Puffballs are inhabiting a rotting Birch trunk.

Cyndi often lagged behind, as I hurried toward the summit. I'd look back to see her prone on the ground, taking another photo of some unusual fungi. I'm not showing you all the different types I photographed ... and Cyndi found and documented even more than I did! The trail itself was gorgeous, and wild, and would serve well as an example of how to manage a wilderness resource. The trail was easy enough to follow, but largely untrammeled, with an outstanding opportunity for a primitive, unconfined type of recreation. I want to thank the State of Maine for preserving this area in such a pristine condition.

As a youth, I attended a meeting in which citizens had come together to try to formulate a plan to preserve this unique and beautiful area. Though we were warned of the dangers that it could be "loved to death" if its beauty was too well advertised, I'm pleased that it did not become a woodlot or gravel pit.

The natural inhabitants of the area thank you all for your support, and for keeping the wheels of progress off their backs.

And from the summit of Schoodic Mountain, here's a view over the lakes and forests of inland Maine. Looks rather flat, doesn't it, compared to the Northern Rockies? The ponderous glaciers of the last ice age rested heavily on this land, and ground inexorably south as far as what is now Manhattan Island in New York. That slow grinding polished some of the rock like mirrors, and sheared off most anything that stuck up toward the sky. This region of Maine rests on a solid batholith of pink and gray granite.

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