Friday, September 30, 2011

The Last Leg Of The Windham Mountain Hike

The dogs and I had made to the summit of Windham Mountain in the Catskills and were on our way back to the trail head. I noticed that yellow Jewelweed grew along the trail at the higher elevations and orange Jewelweed at the lower elevations:

Jewelweed is an amazing plant. Besides its beautiful flowers and attractive foliage, its sap wondrously eases bee and nettle stings. The leaves, when held under water, look like shiny tinfoil. The ripe seeds, beneath their green skin, are bright robin's egg blue. And the ripe seed pods give the plant its other nickname, Touch-Me-Not. When touched, they explode and send the seeds flying in all directions. I wanted to take a video of this phenomenon but didn't have enough charge left in my camera's battery. So I decided to take a couple of stills. Here's a seed pod:
I touched it and it exploded, its walls splitting and curling back while the seeds were sent flying great distances in all directions. What a great way to spread seed and continue the species:
Well, that was fun but we had a long way yet to hike and I was sore and tired. Seamus too was weary. His legs were wobbly as he tried to cool off in this mountain stream.
Fergus and Papillons were less fatigued yet considerably slowed down from their great energy levels at the beginning of the hike:
The sun was beginning to set and I was beginning to have difficulty seeing those blue trail markers as it became darker. The night insects and frogs began their songs just off in the forest and a Barred Owl began hooting not far away:
This hike was only 6.6 miles but seemed more difficult than the 12 mile Jug End Ridge hike we'd taken just two weeks previously. Well, there was nothing for it but to keep on putting one foot in front of the other. We had to make it back to the trail head before dark:
We traveled back through the spruce forest. It doesn't show here because my automatic camera adjusts itself to the available light, but it was growing quite dark. :
And across those exposed roots which bruised the soles of my feet and caused me to feel foolish for wearing sneakers. The Barred Owl continued to hoot every now and then interrupted, I guessed, by short, silent hunting flights. I began to worry about tiny Clover running ahead of me with her bright white flag of a tail displaying over her back. One of the things I read about Papillons is that they often activate the predator instinct in bigger dogs. Would an owl be tempted? I didn't know, but it was growing darker so I put Clover and Daphne on leashes and told Seamus and Fergus to heel:
And we did eventually make it to the trail head. I let the dogs loose briefly and signed out:
But we weren't back to the car yet. We crossed the boardwalk and bridges built since Tropical Storm Irene:
And finally I could see the highway. I put the dogs back on leashes and hobbled and wobbled my way across the highway to my car. The pooches were also happy to lie down in the back of the car. They scarcely moved all the way home:

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