Showing posts with label Walks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Walks. Show all posts

Friday, April 20, 2012

Walks Across Princeton A Big Success

On a glorious day last Saturday, perfectly timed with the emergence of dogwood flowers,
hikers converged on Mountain Lakes House
to partake of good company and food,
as the sounds of clarinet and harp (that's Janet Vertesi on harp, yours truly on licorice stick)
floated out across the water of Mountain Lake.

Sophie Glovier, who conceived the idea of having guided hikes of different lengths all converge at Mountain Lakes at 2pm for a social interlude, thanked everyone for coming. Sophie, the author of a popular guide to Princeton's nature trails, is on the board of Friends of Princeton Open Space, which hosted the event. With 150 people participating, it looks like the beginning of a Princeton tradition.

Thanks to Ivy de Leon for the photos.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Walk At Mountain Lakes

Recent walks through Mountain Lakes led us down paths paved with path rush, a short, dark-green grass-like plant that survives foot traffic better than other plants.
Close up, it has this squashed, angular look.

Usually, stopping to smell the roses proves to be a forgettable experience, given that fragrance has been bred out of most roses. But the swamp rose has escaped the breeders and rewards anyone who wanders into the low, wet, sunny places where it grows.
Common milkweed is another wildflower that survives where trees have not claimed all the sunlight.
We also found a fox grape (Vitis labrusca), that had some very promising-looking berries developing. For identification, it helps to look at the underside of the leaf, which is white/tan instead of green. Concord grapes are bred from fox grape.
We also saw a hazelnut shrub that is kindly donating a portion of its leaves to the food chain.
Part of gaining some woods savvy is learning to recognize poison ivy in all its forms. Here, it has grown up the side of a pear tree next to the creek. The poison ivy "trunk" is hairy, which rhymes with scary, while the horizontal rows of holes on the trunk of the pear tree speak to past visits by sapsuckers. I'm not actually touching the poison ivy, but if I did I'd rinse my hand off in the creek within twenty minutes or so, to avoid getting a rash.
Head downstream from Mountain Lakes and you eventually reach the long boardwalk to the Great Road, where a smaller kind of grape framed a view of Coventry Farm.
Where the lower dam is being rebuilt, we were hoping to see the old ramp, recently discovered, upon which the big blocks of ice were hauled up into the barns in the early 1900s (see earlier post), but the artifact has been covered with a tarp, in preparation for reburial. The best way to preserve it, reportedly, is to cover it up again with muck and lake water.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Nature Walk This Sunday, Feb. 27, 1pm

Another cabin fever relief walk, to see if there are any signs of spring stirring at Pettoranello Gardens, Community Park North woods, Tusculum meadows, and Witherspoon Woods. Will likely include a visit to Devil's Cave if trail conditions allow. We'll try to steer clear of mud, but dress accordingly just in case. Meet at the Community Park North parking lot, on Mountain Ave. next to 206, at 1pm. Walk sponsored by Friends of Princeton Open Space.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Herrontown Woods Walk

We had a great walk in Herrontown Woods a week ago. The abundant snow brightened the scene, and there were lots of bright questions, including why the common names for trees are as they are. Why are oaks called red or white or black? And why is there a dog in dogwood? In the midst of a towering forest, sometimes the simplest questions can leave a walk leader stumped. Even my assertion that the trunk of a musclewood tree looks muscular was received with considerable skepticism by a charming young girl named Meadow, who wanted most of all to head off-trail and climb some of the boulders beckoning as we headed up into the Princeton ridge. Not a bad idea, that, but we ended up staying on trail and more or less on topic, discussing the ways to know a tree by its bark, or craning our necks to see last year's blossoms on the soaring tulip poplars. (Note: For some interesting cultural history of dogwood, and speculations on the origins of its name, click here.)

One curious sighting was a young tree, perhaps 15 feet tall, whose bark had been stripped clean off from the top all the way down to about our level, where shreds of bark still hung on. The exposed wood was smooth and shiny, as if carefully burnished by someone on stilts. Various theories were put forth: lightning, perhaps, or the rubbings of a wayward giraffe. I doubted it was lightning.

On the way back, we stopped by the Veblen farmstead, where the boarded up home of the famous mathematician still sleeps, dreaming mysterious dreams and waiting for someone to solve the riddle of its future.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Canal Towpath Walk on Saturday, August 11, 10am

Many of the showiest wildflowers along the canal in Princeton bloom this time of year. I'll be leading a walk along the towpath this Saturday, August 11, at 10am, starting where the towpath crosses Washington Road in Princeton. There's a parking lot next to Washington Rd. just south of Carnegie Lake and the canal, where a service drive heads up to the university's ballfields. If you get there late, we'll be heading eastward along the towpath, towards Harrison Street.
The land along the canal hosts a remarkable diversity of native wildflowers, thanks to its combination of sunny openings and moist ground. The reduced mowing regime instituted last year by the D&R Greenway State Park has allowed many previously suppressed species to flower and spread.
The walk is sponsored by the Friends of Princeton Open Space.

(The photo is of Purple-Headed Sneezeweed, named of course for its reddish brown center, yellow petals, and general lack of sneeziness)