May 31, 2008 – Allegany Nature Pilgrimage – Old Growth Forest Walk
Tom LeBlanc (a.k.a. Mon@rch) led a walk to an Old Growth Forest on Saturday morning at the Pilgrimage. It was a pleasure to attend a program by a friend and fellow blogger, and to meet another fellow blogger who also participated – Toni from “A Spattering“.
The approach took us past some very large and fairly old trees, including some Striped Maples that were far larger than most Striped Maples ever get. But this was not the Old Growth Forest! Eventually, we got to a place where there used to be a ski slope until about the 1960s.
There’s another part in the park where a tornado went through in the 1980s and knocked down a big section of woods. That section is recovering rather well. This ski slope, on the other hand, while changing slowly over time, has not caught up to the Tornado blow-down, even though it has had at least 20 years more to work on it. We tossed around some ideas on why that might be… Nothing conclusive…
At the bottom of the hill we found the old White Pines… estimated to be in the neighborhood of 400 years old. It’s not easy to take a photograph of these giants and give you any sort of sense of what it is like to stand under them. You cannot see the tops of them. In some cases, you cannot even see the lowest branch. They are amazing.
Old growth forests are characterized by big trees, lots of diversity, a very high canopy, a forest floor that includes decomposition spawning new life, and several other layers of life in between.
One of my favorite finds was this porcupine tree:
No, there’s no tree called a porcupine tree! This is a tree where a porcupine lives! At the bottom of the tree was an enormous pile of scat with a few quills scattered about. A couple dozen feet up was a hole where we assume the porcupine sleeps. Look how proud this little girl is of the quill she found!
I made a mental list of the flowers we found along the way including White and Red Trilliums, Starflower, Mayapple, Canada Mayflower, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Dwarf Ginseng, Bluets, and Lowbush Blueberry. I’m sure there were others… but that’s all I can remember now.
I love Toni’s rendering of hike memories. I wish I could paint like this:
Anyway, it was a great hike (thanks, Tom!) and I plan to go back to this spot to explore more of the Old Growth Forest. Just beautiful!!!
Read Tom’s version of the story here:
Read Toni’s version of the story here: