Monday, May 31, 2010

Bennett Hill, Part 3

The dogs and I were now atop Bennett Hill. It's a flat topped hill with many pines and occasional views off into the valley below. Fergus and Daphne, still muddy from playing along the trail, were at this point enjoying the pine scented trails carpeted in needles:

I began to encounter these white flower clusters and had no idea what they were. I'd heard the name "Foam Flower" and suspected these might be them as they certainly looked foamy. But I looked it up when I got home and learned that they are Three-Leafed False Solomon's-Seal, Smilacina trifolia:

The trail hadn't been arduous enough to slow the dogs down much, and they were full of energy:

I was hopeful of finding a really good scenic overlook. So when I saw this tree on the edge of the hilltop with its horizontal limb I hurried over there. I'd intended to climb out onto it for a good view and if I'd been younger or had someone to help me in the event of a mishap, I might have done it. But at my age, and all alone, I decided it'd be wise to keep my feet on the ground and watch for scenic overlooks elsewhere:

Seamus was not only peppy, but perhaps overly so as he got numerous reprimands. We had no repeat of his "too tired to go any farther" performance on the Taconic Crest Trail recently. Or, given that I was sick and feverish, perhaps I was a bit crabby. Nothing deterred Seamus from having a grand time. That's why dogs are such marvelous company:

Daphne and Fergus rounded a bend as the hill began a slight incline:

At last, I found a scenic overlook where the farm fields we'd passed on the way up stretched out in the valley below. Seeing it all through the fragrant pines added to the experience:

Bennett Hill is a steep sided, flat topped hump and you can get an idea of its structure in this photo. The flat top is rather extensive and has many unique plants that are not found on its hillsides:

I arrived at this plant, an old friend I remembered well from previous hikes here. It's the only high-bush blueberry I've ever seen in the wild. Furthermore, it was in full bloom:

Here's a close-up of its bell flowers. They're a bit less waxy and a bit more open than the blossoms of the much more common low-bush blueberries. They were also growing all over the hilltop, but apparently their blooming season had passed:

And right next to the high-bush blueberry was this wild rose. I found it more difficult to identify it precisely, but finally decided that it is a Pasture Rose, Rosa carolina. Finding a wild rose is always a happy experience for me:

And, of course, there were strawberries. But once again, there were different species and I had to figure out which one it was. I decided it was Common Strawberry, Fragaria virginiana. Alas, I had still not seen any Pink Lady's-Slippers:

I arrived at perhaps the best scenic overlook of all. I believe that in the past, perhaps when the leaves were off the trees, I've been able to see the tall buildings of Albany from this spot. The hillside was exceedingly sandy and steep right here, but little Daphne explored down there anyway:

And while she explored, Daphne called my attention to these Columbines in bloom, Aquilegia canadensis:

I climbed down the steep bank to get a photo and all three dogs tried to join me. They're so much "help:"

And I took this video of the scenery from this vantage point and it was while shooting that I discovered the wild Columbines. Well, Daphne actually discovered them for me:

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