Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Muck and the Mire - A trip to Mission Creek Woodland Park

I took walk in Mission Creek Woodland Park yesterday morning.  Not really a walk, "taking a walk" implies a path and a leisurely stroll on dry level or rolling terrain.  Walk is not the right word for Mission Creek.

I took a "slog" in Mission Creek Woodland Park yesterday morning.  Most of slogging did not involve a path, leisure, or dry level terrain.  Much of this park is dry and level and covered with an American Beech/Sugar Maple Forest, but the part of the park that interests me is a Northern Hardwood/Conifer Swamp.  A "good" day in this swamp involves climbing over downed White Cedar and Black Ash trees, sinking over your boot tops in the much, and stepping out of your boots as the muck sucks them off your feet.

 A "good" day does not involve large swarms of biting insects or rain.  "Good" days are sometimes found in early spring before the insects come out, fall when the insects have died down, and winter when there are no insects.

Did I mention rain?  In the prior 48 hours, my home rain gauge has measured over two inches of rain, half of which came during the day yesterday. (It is raining again today.)

Yesterday was not a "good" day to go to Mission Creek.  The choice was to either wear rain gear and get soaked with sweat, or not wear rain gear and get soaked with rain.  To wear long sleeves and steam, or not wear long sleeves and get eaten by insects.  Not wearing mosquito repellant was not an option - fortunately I had some in the vehicle.

I compromised on the clothing - no rain pants so my lower half got soaked by rain, a rain coat so my upper half got soaked by sweat, hood over my head to keep some of the mosquitoes at bay, bug dope on every exposed inch of skin (hands and face).

So is a slog through Mission Creek worth the mud, scrapes, sweat, and bites?   Look at these pictures and judge for yourself.

Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra)

Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum)

Swamp Buttercup (Ranunculus hispidus)

Swamp Buttercup (Ranunculus hispidus)

Swamp Buttercup (Ranunculus hispidus)

American Black Currant (Ribes americanum)

Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) leaves

Red Maple (Acer rubrum) leaf on Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) leaf

Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum)

Life on and around a downed log - the tree growing up from the log is a Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis)

Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) and Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)

Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum)

Starry False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum stellatum)

Snail on the edge of a Skunk Cabbage leaf

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata)

Snails on a stick

Skunk Cabbage in the Red Maple - Black Ash Swamp

Cinnamon Fern & Skunk Cabbage

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Okay, in spite of the swarms of mosquitoes and the rain, maybe yesterday was a "good" day to explore Mission Creek Woodland Park.

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