Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day Three - Spring Pond Bog, John Brown's Farm

Friday morning dawned chilly and foggy.  Our original plan had been to visit the various Olympic venues, but the group seemed a bit lukewarm about that, so I had contacted The Nature Conservancy about getting permission to go into their property at Spring Pond Bog instead, which is the second largest bog in New York State.  The bog proper is over 500 acres in size, while the preserve is over 4200 acres.  The group expressed interest in visiting this site, so after breakfast we were on our way.

The drive to the bog wasn't long, distance-wise, but time-wise was another matter.  The road became more and more unimproved as we went along, resulting in our creeping along at speeds barely registerable on the speedometer.

Partway in, we stopped at a pair of fog-shrouded ponds to listen for birds (and for me, to photograph spider webs).

We got a few warblers, but everyone was thrilled to watch a pair of loons swimming in the mists.

When we finally reached the parking area, everyone took some time to put on insect repellent and protective clothing.

Once prepared, we headed in to the Bog.

The woods were dark and damp, as the trail climbed steadily up the esker that runs alongside the bog.

Before too long, there was a fork in the trail - to the left was the boardwalk that would take us out into the bog.

Again, it was a bit early for many of the open area plants to be in bloom, so no orchids.  We did see lots of cotton grass, 

and Labrador tea, however.

The boardwalk is not long, but it does bring visitors out to the only place here where they can get close to the peatlands.

As one might expect, the usual cast of characters included some beautiful pitcher plants.  We even saw one with a flower bud, although we were too early for it to be in bloom.

Pale laurel was in bloom, which lent a nice splash of color to the landscape.

This plant was new for me.  I puzzled and puzzled over it, having no luck keying it out in Newcomb's.  I sent copies of the  photos to my friend Jackie, who immediately wrote back that it was three-leaved Solomon's seal.  Never heard of it.  Went back to Newcomb's and there it was...with the other Solomon's seals.  I have no idea why I was unable to key it out.

The boardwalk spur trail connected back to the trail that was running across the top of the esker.  The morning's heavy fog/dew (and the previous night's rain) left some lovely drops that just begged to be photographed.

Bunchberry was starting to blossom, so we had the opportunity to see several of these ground-dwelling dogwoods.  The white portions are not the actual petals.  The flowers from the center cluster nestled inside the white bracts.  They are very small, and each has a hair that when brushed by a fly or other visiting insect triggers the release of pollen in a small explosion. 

The literature for Spring Pond Bog states that visitors can view the bog's expanse from the top of the esker.  Well, it's really a very "filtered" view through the trees, which does not leave one with a sense of just how vast this wetland is.  I confess I followed a small herd path down the side of the slope to the wood's edge so I could get a view beyond the trees.  All the white you see out there is cotton grass - its quantity was impressive.

Three cheers for the sporting nature of our group.  While most of the trail was pretty easy to traverse, there was this one awkward log across the path.  Some of us had to sit on it and swing our legs over, but the gentleman you see on top is 89 years young and look at him just walk right over it!

Every pink lady's slipper we encountered during our Adirondack adventure had its photo taken.

Here is a view of some of the road we had to navigate.  Some of the rocks in there were 8-10" across!  Makes one wonder what this section looked like before they filled it in.  Other areas had virtual canyons where "significant precipitation events" had eroded channels right where tires would normally roll...made for some fancy driving by our brave chauffeurs.

By the time we got back into Tupper Lake, it was noonish - time for lunch.  We stopped at Larkin's Deli/Bakery/Gas station (a Diesel Bakery, according to the sign below) to try their famous sandwiches.  It's a busy place, and there were 13 of us, plus other customers.  When everyeonfinally got fed, all expressed satisfaction in the fare.

Then we were off to Lake Placid to visit John Brown's Farm.  John Brown was the abolitionist who was famous for his failed raid on Harper's Ferry.  He was hanged for this and within a week his body was shipped back to North Elba where it was interred here at the farm.  Two of his sons, who also participated in the raid, are buried here as well.

It's a very peaceful place, this farm.  John's wife and children did not remain here long after John's death - she took the family out to California, where one can imagine it was much warmer and the growing conditions superior to what they were here in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks.

If you take the tour of the house, you will see a few pieces of the original Brown furniture, but most of the furnishings are pieces from the period that were purchased (or donated) to lend a feel of authenticity to the home.

We were all quite taken by this left-handed grain shovel.  The handle has just a slight turn to it that makes this shovel comfortable to use only left-handed.  Ingenious.

On our way back to Tupper Lake, we stopped at the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery to pick up a couple growlers.  Several of the women in my car pool have a thing for visiting old cemeteries, and each one we passed received a "oh...can we stop there?!?"  So, as we cruised back through Saranac Lake we hit the Pine Grove Cemetery to visit the graves of the Norwegians seafarers who are buried there.

When Hitler invaded Norway, those who were out to sea sought refuge where they could.  Some came to the US, and those who were diagnosed with TB were sent up to Saranac Lake to take the cure.  Of these, 15 did not survive, and they are buried here, where, to this day, they are lovingly cared for by the people of this community.

After dinner, we went to The Wild Center for an astronomy program and star gazing with the Adirondack Public Observatory, which officially opens in July.  The program turned out to be less about astronomy than geology ("Pregnant Rocks and Mystic Crystals), but it was interesting.  Clouds had moved in, so the APO staff said that we were still welcome to come out to the observatory, but they weren't expecting clear skies until about 2:00 AM.  Our group opted to return to the motel.  As it turns out, the clouds cleared by 9:30 and we could've had some good star gazing after all.  Live and learn.

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