As I said yesterday, Sarah not only talked me into a knit-along, she talked me into agreeing to take a hike twice a month and blog about it. (This is what I get for whining on Rav about being out of shape and about not ever finishing anything. ;~)
It was perfect weather here today - sunny, about 50 degrees F, a little breeze now and then. Also, it's Sunday. This state doesn't allow hunting on Sundays, so it's possible to meander mindlessly through the woods without worry.
I wasn't meandering mindlessly, though; I was walking to Spirit Falls. I am lucky to live in a part of Massachusetts where there is considerable land protected from development. The Tully Trail crosses many of those protected properties, and I chose a bit of it for this inaugural walk.
The short portion of the trail I walked today starts on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood-control dam, which created Tully Lake. I stood on the dam to take the photo above. Before the Tully and Birch Hill Dams were built on the Millers River and its tributary, the East Branch of the Tully River, in the 1940's, downstream towns such as Athol would experience major flooding regularly. We like these dams. They also provide great recreational opportunities. I started hiking at a canoe launch on the Tully River; despite it being late November, there were two kayakers setting out upstream.
I met several other hikers (and their attending dogs and children) as well. Even with a few other hikers, this was a quiet hike. I saw no moose, no deer, no coyotes, no porcupines, not even any droppings - just one or two chickadees and kinglets. Until I got to the falls itself, this was a hike focused on the small and the underfoot.
In late November, the deciduous woods around here are bare of leaves, just shades of gray, with the occasional flash of white birch bark. On the ground, though, there are many little evergreen groundcovers.
Round-leaved pyrola. These green leaves were entirely under the fallen brown leaves; it was only the withered, upright flower stalk that gave these away to me.
Mosses of unknown sorts, unknown to me at least:
Christmas ferns. These indicate a richer, less basic soil than we usually have here in central Massachusetts.
A little tapestry of greens:
There's more short greenery as well, but here's something different - Indian pipes:
Indian pipes are saprophytic plants, meaning they have no chlorophyll and subsist by parasitizing soil fungi that have a symbiotic relationship with plant roots. In summer, the pipes are thickish and white; late in summer, they wither, leaving brown stems capped by the seedpods.
The trail here parallels the Tully River at a little distance. I caught glimpses of it now and then.
Across the river was a large red maple swamp, underlain by thick grasses and sedges.
A few trees had signs that Pileated Woodpeckers were working on them. This hole was about 4 inches square.
After an hour or so, I rounded a small ridge and started hearing water. Running water.
I came upon the small Spirit Falls Brook. Crossing over it, I started uphill. Straight uphill. This brook falls about 300 feet in about a quarter-mile, straight down off the long Jacob Hill ridge.
Spirit Falls itself is a long series of small and larger waterfalls. The inch of rain we had two days ago gave the Falls enough water to really splash and rumble. It was a lovely, lovely waterfall.
I stood near the top and watched the water slide off into the air.
I stood for a while, just watching the water flow. And then I turned around and walked back to my car, my face in the sun all the way.