Monday, June 27, 2016

Heat, Heights and Fireflies

Red bellied woodpecker

Huckleberries in my backyard woods

Large sycamore tree: 14 ft. 7in. cbh. Height: 107.68 ft.

Tulip poplar 128.99 ft
The forest changes week after week. Summer heat is here, thankfully humidity has been tolerable. I was pleasantly surprised to see some ripe huckleberries on my last hike in my "backyard wilderness." Once again, I was immediately transported to the Pacific Northwest, the first time I ever ate a huckleberry in Oregon on the Pacific Crest Trail. So thankful to have all of these reminders of magnificent places in my own backyard. I've really been enjoying measuring tree heights around the area as well. It's an addicting hobby. Also a bit challenging right now with the forest completely leafed out. The Tulip poplar above was a treat to measure, no obstructions whatsoever, and a very nice looking tree. Fireflies are out at night. I grew up with them so they are easy to take for granted. A few days ago, I took a few minutes to just stare at a dark area of forest and watch the blinking lights. I think it's truly one of the most magnificent natural phenomena a person can witness...

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer is Here

Nothing like Maryland skies in the summer

110.02 ft. Tulip Poplar
Summer is here. I've continued to make trips into the forest where I grew up. I thought this week I would find and measure my first 150 foot tree, but the poplars seem to be maxing out in the 130 foot range so far. Although a little disappointed, the trees are becoming familiar and friends. The forest continues to amaze me, every trip reveals something different. Yesterday I saw a cottonwood tree, which may not seem all that special, but seeing it transported me instantly into New Mexico and Nevada. I guess that's the joy of travel, it's with you all the time, even when not actually present...

Eastern cottonwood
Cottonwood Trees in Nevada (June 2015)
Giant Cottonwood Tree in New Mexico

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Snake and Sycamore

124.1 ft. Sycamore
Measured this beautiful Sycamore tree with a height of 124.1 ft. On the way back almost stepped on this coiled up snake. Looks like he might have been resting post dinner ...

Saturday, June 11, 2016

On the Cusp of Summer

Potomac River running high and muddy

Indian Pipe "the ghost plant"

125.75 ft. Tulip Poplar
This weekend brings the first 90 degree days of the season. I've been in a weird place psychologically this week. On one hand, I am trying to move forward and reconnect to my home. On the other hand, I feel like I am in a strange state of mourning for big wilderness. I find myself thinking about the west, the mountains and redwoods in particular like one would think of a long lost girlfriend. It's ridiculous really. My Facebook news feed is filled with hiking friends embarking on their latest adventures, as well as articles and news from the west. I wake up in the morning and one of my first thoughts is usually traveling through the redwood forest. I really, really miss it. Driving home from work earlier this week, I was stuck in a traffic jam. However, as my car continued to come to a halt, I had time to glance at enormous white cumulus clouds. I was immediately transported to Yosemite Valley, and thought of staring at the same type of clouds floating over Half Dome. I had an indescribable ache in my gut. When I am not working,  I seem to be somewhere else out west in my mind 75% of the time...

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Red Oak and Rocks

120.4 ft. Red Oak

120.4 ft. Red Oak
It's been a treat to reconnect with the area I grew up in. The land is coming to life for what feels like the first time. When I grew up, the only world I seemed to know was one of schools, buildings, churches, homes, cars, roads. It's fascinating to see this vibrant little wilderness that was there all along. This little wilderness, a miniature rain forest, quietly doing its thing...

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Variegation in Plants

Here are a few pictures of some plants with variegation that I saw on today's hike. Many gardens around town seem to have variegated plants in them, but it's always a treat to see wild examples in the woods...