Saturday, January 21, 2017

3 September 2016 Surprise Finds in EWNR

Our only geocache find of the day was at the midpoint of a walk in the Erie National Wildlife Refuge. We tried this cache much earlier in the year, but only needed a few feet on the severely iced boardwalk to realize Phineas was too energetic to make the walk without risking serious injury. I had hoped for an earlier return than late summer to see what spring wildflowers might be present, but the finds on our walk made our timing a fortunate event.

I had hoped the conditions were right to see turtlehead, and we did. I was hoping to see nodding lady's tresses, which we didn't, but we were treated to multiple clusters of closed gentian and some lettuce in prime blossom.

The boardwalk ended in a nice view of French Creek.

While we enjoyed the view, Phineas buried his head in the water bowl for a long drink.

We spent the late afternoon walking an old railroad grade through the ANF. The grade used to be a wildflower paradise but recently has struggled with invasives and neglect. For the past two summers the forest service has been working to upgrade the old bed in places where run-off had caused damage and worked to push back the surging multi-flora rose. I was concerned the work might have upset the fragile existence of the turtlehead, great blue lobelia, and sunflowers that used to grow along the trail. Many of the flowers appear to have made it through the work.

We capped our walk with one of the seasons few sightings of square stemmed monkey flower.

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