Tag Archives: Autumn

Oregon and a Wee Vest

Oh Oregon, beautiful state.

In early October, we travelled to McKenzie Bridge, Oregon for a friend’s wedding. It was a short vacation, especially considering the time spent in airports and cars, but it felt worthwhile. The flights went smoothly and we had excellent views of the Grand Tetons and the Cascades. Seen from above, the forests of Oregon were dark green with bright yellow bursts of autumn aspens.

In the three days we were there, we celebrated love between two good people, ate delicious food, visited with family, and walked in beautiful forests. We were able to identify most of the trees, but the forest understory plants were unknown to us. Being in a place where we did not know the flora was both fun and frustrating. Why didn’t we pack all those field guides for the west that have been gathering dust on our shelves?! (Answer: no room between all the diapers.)

The understory plant with compound leaves shown in the photo below was abundant at the wedding venue and along every trail. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, even after we retuned home. Searching internet photos led me to an answer. This plant is dull Oregon grape, also known as Cascade berry (Mahonia nervosa). Hurrah.

In preparation for our trip, I knit a wee vest for my child. I improvised the pattern, with careful consideration to fit and features as well as ease of knitting. It came out perfectly and, oh goodness, does he look adorable in it. Now I see why baby knits are worthwhile even if they are only worn for a few months or even weeks.

Sister’s Lake

Back in September, G and I spent a warm weekend in the Adirondacks. I was desperate for the smell of spruce forests and the feel of cool water. We packed our car, loaded the canoe, and headed east after work on Friday September 22. It is a long drive from Buffalo to the Adirondack State Park, so it was well into the night by the time we pulled over at a trailhead and lay down across the trunk and back seats in our small hatchback. Gazing through the back windshield, the wide canoe on our roof cut a black gash across the starry sky.


On Saturday, we took our time reaching our final destination. We first bought cider doughnuts and coffee in Old Forge, then drove Uncas Road to the trail for Black Bear Mountain. It was a perfect blue-skied day, warm enough for mid-summer though technically autumn had arrived. The maple trees were burning red and orange across the landscape, with the birch just beginning to glow yellow.

When we first arrived, G and I were the only people at the summit, but we were soon joined by an extended family with young children. They reached the peak, and immediately began to search for something. When we inquired, the father explained that one of his sons had passed away a few years ago and he, the father, had carved his son’s initials into the rock as a memorial. Now they were back a year later and could not find the carving. They looked for at least an hour, with no success. Perhaps they were on the wrong mountain. At the risk of sounded insensitive, I must say that we were glad that they did not find their carving. Engraving the Adirondack granite is leaving a trace to say the least. It implies a sense of self-importance and a disregard for the value of a natural area. It affects other people’s experiences. Fellow hikers, please follow Leave No Trace ethics and keep your penknives away.

In the afternoon, we drove to Big Moose Lake, where we parked our car at the public boat launch and headed out for the night. Our destination was a lean-to that lies three miles past the far end of the lake and is only accessible through a combination of boating and walking. This lean-to is perched on the edge of Sister’s Lake, with a natural rock outcrop serving as a swimmer’s ideal entry. We shared the location with three men who were also out for the weekend.

I had brought my Acadian hat with me as the weekend’s knitting project, which I had first knit as a memory piece from our honeymoon to Nova Scotia. The hat is made with Quince and Co. Lark yarn in calming blue-greens that remind me of early twilight. The original was in need of brim modifications. One of the men who was staying at the lean-to saw me knitting and liked my Acadian hat so much, he requested that I sell one to him. And so, I did. Last week, PH received his own Acadian hat, with just a few modification. I hope it keeps his cozy and warm all this winter long.

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Fifty Miles on the Ouachita Trail

I discovered the Ouachita Trail while searching the internet for the “best long distance trails in America” and then spent many hours day dreaming about traversing the two-hundred-twenty-mile length of it. Vacation limits did not allow for this, but G has family in Little Rock, near the trails eastern terminus, and we decided to combine a visit and hike into an autumn trip.

7 OCTOBER 2016

DAY 1 EASTERN TERMINUS

After a long flight, Uncle R picked us up at the Little Rock airport. He took us to a delicious veggie lunch in the city, a grocery store, and then drove us out to Pinnacle Mountain State Park and the eastern trailhead. We took our time in the parking lot, laughing with Uncle R and shoving our food and toilet paper into our packs. and Then Uncle R drove away and we set out into the woods feeling fine.OT-1 It only took a few minutes for the path to fizzle out. We retraced our steps and tried again. Surely this was it. After half an hour of stomping back and forth, a consultation with our guide book explained that we were not at the trail’s current eastern terminus. Oops. There was a moment of concern, as it was late in the afternoon and we had was no cell phone service, and no way to get in touch with Uncle R for a ride to the right place. The plan was for him to meet us 5 days and 50 miles away. Fortunately, the simple map in our book showed that correct starting point was a short walk down the paved road. OT-2

We were off!