"Return" because I had hiked this landscape before but that was before the train system had been established .I noticed in the sign-in book, there has been a steady stream of hikers taking advantage (as I was no doubt) of the warm late Fall weather. One hiker plus one dog seemed to be the typical sign in. I had no dog with me but instead my faithful companion the poet Michael Czarnecki, who actually gets credit for encouraging me to get out and explore nature with him. I was curious to see how much the woods were expressing the warm weather, having seen a few flowers blooming and having heard the pussy willows were out. The report on that was just a little more left-over old and sprouting new green. Not a whole skip of season or anything. I always feel uneasy when the natural cycle seems wrong, "warmest ever" being a phrase I have heard too often.
|Late Fall landscape at Schiffendecker
|morning light on ferns
|wild onion and moss covered bark
The leaf litter was a focus of my eye as we walked the rolling hills on narrow trails. The path was made easy by bridges over the small gullies. The Preserve stays above the large hollows which are the major geological features of the place. The soil is the familiar mudslide Normanskill gray slick stuff with vegetative material over the top of it which improves the footing. Michael and I walked every trail including the small side loops. A nice succession of wood groves enriched the experience. The forest floor litter at various times was predominated by beech, maple, oak, spruce, pine. There are some old White Oaks if you like ancient trees.
This area will look very different in April or May. The understory and regrown open places will cover you in till you feel like you are walking in tunnels of green. Now with most all the leaves down you can look into the hills and see more of the shape of the landform.
|layers of the fallen